Evangelical pastor turned atheist, Bruce Gerencser, recently stumbled upon a breathtaking find that is sure to excite Christians worldwide. For centuries archaeologists have scoured the Middle East looking for the church that Jesus built. While the Roman Catholic church claims to be the church that Peter built, get back to the purity of the early church Christians continue to look for THE church that Jesus built. And today, that church has been found. Not in Palestine, not in Jerusalem, not in Rome, and not in Salt Lake City. The church that Jesus built, you know, the one true model #1, has been found in Harlan, Indiana.
Lest anyone doubt that this is THE church that Jesus built, the Church of Christ at Harlan website says that they are “THE body of Christ in Harlan.” It makes perfect sense: THE body of Christ is THE church that Jesus built and it all can be found in Harlan, Indiana, population 1,634.
I don’t hate the flesh and blood Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine, nor do I hate the Jesus found in the pages of the Bible. These Jesuses are relics of the past. I’ll leave it to historians to argue and debate whether these Jesuses were real or fiction. Over the centuries, Christians have created many Jesuses in their own image. This is the essence of Christianity, an ever-evolving religion bearing little resemblance to what it was even a century ago.
The Jesus I hate is the modern, Western Jesus, the American Jesus, the Jesus who has been a part of my life for almost fifty-eight years. The Jesuses of bygone eras have no power to harm me, but the modern Jesus – the Jesus of the three hundred thousand Christian churches that populate every community in America – he has the power to affect my life, hurt my family, and destroy my country. And I, with a vengeance, hate him.
Over the years, I have had a number of people write me about how the modern Jesus was ruining their marriage. In many instances, the married couple started out in life as believers, and somewhere along the road of life one of them stopped believing. The still-believing spouse can’t or won’t understand why the other spouse no longer believes. They make it clear that Jesus is still very important to them and if forced to choose between their spouse and family, they would choose Jesus. Simply put, they love Jesus more than they love their families.
Sadly, these types of marriages usually fail. A husband or a wife simply cannot compete with Jesus. He is the perfect lover and perfect friend, one who is always there for the believing spouse. This Jesus hears the prayers of the believing spouse and answers them. This Jesus is the BFF of the believing spouse. This Jesus says to the believer, you must choose, me or your spouse. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus cares nothing for the poor, the hungry, or the sick. This Jesus has no interest in poor immigrants or unwed mothers. This Jesus cares for Tim Tebow more than he does a starving girl in Ethiopia. He cares more about who wins a Grammy or ACM Award than he does poverty-stricken Africa having food and clean water. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus is on the side of the culture warriors. This Jesus hates homosexuals and demands they be treated as second class citizens. This Jesus, no matter the circumstance, demands that a woman carry her fetus to term. Child of a rapist, afflicted with a serious birth defect, the product of incest or a one night stand? It matters not. This Jesus is pro-life. Yet, this same Jesus supports the incarceration of poor young men of color, often for no other crime than trying to survive. This Jesus is so pro-life he encourages American presidents and politicians to slaughter innocent men, women, and children. This Jesus demands certain criminals be put to death by the state, even though the state has legally murdered innocent people. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus drives fancy cars, has palaces and cathedrals, and followers who spare no expense to make his house the best mansion in town. This Jesus loves Rolexes, Lear jets, and expensive suits. This Jesus sees the multitude and turns his back on them, only concerned with those who say and believe “the right things.” It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus owns condominiums constructed just for those who believe in him. When they die, he gives them the keys. But, for the rest of humanity, billions of people, this Jesus says no keys for you. I have a special Hitler-like plan for you. To the ovens you go, only unlike the Jews, I plan to give you a special body that allows me to torture you with fire and brimstone forever. It is this Jesus I hate.
It is this Jesus who looks at Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Universalists, Secularists, Humanists, and Skeptics, and says to them before you were born I made sure you could never be in the group that gets the condominiums when they die. This Jesus says, and it is your fault, sinner man. It is this Jesus who made sure billions of people were born into cultures that worshiped other Gods. It is this Jesus who then says it is their fault they were born at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Too bad, this Jesus says, burn forever in the Lake of Fire. It is this Jesus I hate.
This Jesus divides families, friends, communities, and nations. This Jesus is the means to an end. This Jesus is all about money, power and control. This Jesus subjugates women, tells widows it’s their fault, and ignores the cry of orphans. Everywhere one looks, this Jesus hurts, afflicts, and kills those we love. It is this Jesus I hate. What I can’t understand is why anyone loves this Jesus? Like a clown on a parade route, he throws a few candies towards those who worship him, promising them that a huge pile of candy awaits them when they die. He lets his followers hunger, thirst, and die, yet he tells them it is for their good, that he loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. This Jesus is all talk, promising the moon and delivering a piece of gravel. Why can’t his followers see this?
Fear me, he tells his followers. I have the keys to life and death. I have the power to make you happy and I have the power to destroy your life. I have the power to take your children, health, and livelihood. I can do these things because I am the biggest, baddest Jesus ever. Fear me and oppress women, immigrants, orphans, homosexuals, and atheists. Refuse my demand and I will rain my judgment down upon your head. But, know that I love you and only want is best for you and yours. It is this Jesus I hate.
Perhaps there is a Jesus somewhere that I could respect, a Jesus who might merit my devotion. For now, all I see is a Jesus who is worthy of derision, mockery, and hate. Yes, hate. It is this Jesus I hate. When the Jesus who genuinely loves humanity and cares for the least of these shows up, let me know. In the meantime, I hate Jesus.
Here’s an infographic by Jericho Brisance ( Matt Barsotti) that accurately reflects the challenges and difficulties facing Bible readers when they attempt to determine exactly what happened on the first Easter Sunday. I appreciate Matt’s hard work in putting this infographic together.
Last Sunday, the National Geographic Channel showed the movie Killing Jesus, a TV version of Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same name. According to Neilson, 3.7 million viewers watched Killing Jesus, giving National Geographic its highest total viewership ever. This means that about 1.25% of Americans watched Killing Jesus. According to Wikipedia, as of February 2015, the National Geographic Channel is available “to approximately 86,144,000 pay television households (74% of households with television) in the United States.” It seems that most of the people who could have watched Killing Jesus didn’t.
On the same Sunday, the season finale of The Walking Dead attracted 15.8 million viewers. Even the Talking Dead after-show garnered almost 8 million viewers. According to the Futon Critic, “THE WALKING DEAD” ENDS SEASON FIVE WITH ALL 16 EPISODES RANKING AMONG THE TOP 20 ENTERTAINMENT TELECASTS IN ADULTS 18-49 THIS BROADCAST SEASON.”
Based on the numbers, it’s pretty clear that Americans love Zombies a lot more than they love Jesus.
Come on girlfriend (please say girlfriend with your best Valley Girl impersonation) , time to abandon all those dreamy-eyed guys you have a crush on and hook up with Jesus. Don’t want to? Fine, then Jesus is going to burn you up with his eyes and send you to hell.