|Posted by thethousandmarch on June 10, 2012 at 6:40 PM|
This is the last (for now) in my series “Christianity is for Losers”. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m saying that Christians, like their master Jesus, are either mean, dishonest, deranged, pathetically misguided or correct. There is no neutral ground with Jesus. As he said, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23).
I do not believe Jesus was a liar; a liar wouldn’t have given up his life as he did. He must have been deranged or correct. Could a deranged man have been so profound? Of course I’m following the argument of C.S. Lewis here – Jesus was either liar, lunatic, or Lord. But there is a fourth option I have not seen Lewis discuss. Perhaps it was the followers of Jesus, especially the latecomer Paul who twisted his words and polluted his story. Perhaps they were the liars and lunatics.
There have been many people throughout history and in our modern times who use religion to manipulate, exploit and swindle. And many unhinged madmen misappropriate Jesus as a means to justify whatever it is they push. Yet, I would say that in all such circumstances religion, Christianity, Jesus etc. are used as a means to an end. These are consumer religions that promise to meet felt needs. Many people these days don’t even care whether or not the doctrines of the particular religion they belong to are even true. They only care if their religion is practical. For many people religion is about community, culture, personal transformation, overcoming addiction, training children to be moral etc.. Not that these things are necessarily bad – but the apostles would never have said, “it doesn’t matter if it’s true, it’s helped me have a more enjoyable life.” No; Paul tells us that if Christ was not raised from the dead our faith is useless (1 Cor 15:14); if Christianity is not true we might as well become hedonists and enjoy our lives now (1 Cor 15:32).
Christianity is not a religion built on pragmatism. Yet, today you can find many a church which makes all sorts of promises to give you your best life now/. However, Jesus promised suffering and rejection (John 15:20). He warned that; “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it (Matt 10:38-39).” There Christ does promise life, but only after self-denial and persecution. Not exactly a religion for people just looking for something that will help improve their lives at present.
The Christian life has many benefits, but most of those benefits can be found in any other religion or spiritual practice. Christianity helps many people become fine moral people. But, so do most other religions – some may even do a better job. Christianity helps many people feel better about themselves and have fulfilling spiritual experiences, just like all the other religions in this world. And if that’s all you care about then it doesn’t really matter which, if any, organized religion you choose. You might as well just be a secular humanist; I imagine it would be a much more pleasant way to go.
Christianity is only valuable if it is true. Really the only practical thing about Christianity is if it is true that Jesus is the one mediator between God and man, whose death atoned for our sins, whose righteous life is credited to us so that we in turn may be judged to be righteous, who is the only one who is able to reconcile us – enemies of God – with God; If that’s true, then Jesus is the only way to eternal life, which is to know the Father, “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (1 John 17:3).” If he and his disciples are correct then he has the words of eternal life (John 6:68) He may not give us words for success in this life – his Kingdom is not of this world. He may not have a thing to say about our most pressing concerns for how to get today whatever it is we think will make us happy. He may not transform us into the wonderful people we want to be right now. To most people Jesus’ message is absolutely meaningless, because it is not the means to the ends they desire. He’s got nothing to really offer them, and his discipleship program is impractical. When the loaves and fishes are all consumed, and when Jesus has stopped handing out miracles it’s time to move on to something better. Only hopeless losers with no more fight left in them turn to Jesus – only the poor in spirit.
Categories: Christianity is for Losers