avatarAuthor, D. Denise Dianaty

Summarize

Conservative Christianity

Correcting the Institution

Stan Doesn’t Like It

So… I’ve had this conversation on Facebook. I shared a meme that should be inarguable, from an actual reverend. The infographic was an Xitter post by Reverend Benjamin Cremer, Pastor, Wesleyan, and Writer with a BA in Christian Ministry, an MA in Spiritual Formation, and an MA in Theological Studies.

Stan doesn’t like that I shared the infographic. He took exception on the basis of his Christian beliefs. Okay. I agree with the reverend’s position based on my Christian beliefs. Below is the conversation so far…

Infographic from Facebook

Stan: Funny Jesus did not have any of those when he walked the earth.

Me: so… is your point that because Jesus may have lived in need, that no one else deserves to have their needs met?

BTW, Jesus’ story shows him welcomed and provided for by his followers wherever he went. Also, we know that some of the Apostles had wives and families who would have also provided for their needs. And, scripture tells us that women whom He had healed provided both financially and materially for Jesus and the Apostles during His ministry.

GNT Luke 8:1 Some time later Jesus traveled through towns and villages, preaching the Good News about the Kingdom of God. The twelve disciples went with him, 2 and so did some women who had been healed… 3…and many other women who used their own resources to help Jesus and his disciples.

Stan: How have you decided “Christianity is somehow offended…” by anything that God has not determined to be sin? If you are so concerned about caring or capitalism, why not just focus on the message of the Gospels — the salvation of the lost. Then, the Holy Spirit can speak to any other issues they may be struggling with or against. Your response is a harsh and uncaring one that provides a way of salvation for no one. Where would your encouragement for the Brethren be found in such a response? How is this about being “in the world but not of it”? Was that your intent?

Me: so, the gripe is that it points out the flaws of prosperity evangelism and the ills of capitalism? What is harsh or unkind in calling for making sure people have a roof over their heads, are able to feed their families, to give their children clean water to drink, and to be able to earn a livable wage to provide for their family’s needs?

The harshness is in antipathy toward the working poor. The lack of compassion is in what has become part and parcel of conservative belief and their entirely unbiblical prosperity gospels which demonize working poor people as not righteous enough for prosperity. Jesus never preached prosperity of material wealth. He wanted us to seek wealth of the spirit, of forgiveness and grace — not the cold hard cash of capitalism. The image of God is not found in capitalism.

As for salvation, what salvation is lost asking to meet the basic needs of God’s children? Where’s the grace and salvation in turning a blind eye to that suffering? What grace and hope is found in demonizing the poor. To fix your eyes on God and remain blind to God’s children is a betrayal of God’s love and Grace. To be able to do so lays bare privilege assumed by virtue of prosperity.

If you believe “the Holy Spirit can speak to any other issues,” why won’t you see this infographic is speaking to the needs of meeting people’s basic needs? “To be in this world but not of it” is to strive to be a living reflection into the world of the image of God who is love. “To be in this world but not of it” is to live a life in Jesus’ example, uplifting the marginalized and challenging the privileged as He did.

I genuinely cannot fathom your objection. Is that I had the temerity to call out the institution of “Christianity” for unchristian attitudes? For people to claim the faith and decry support for the working poor offers no salvation nor grace to those most in need. The Bible tells us to correct one another.

We’re supposed to worship God, not capitalism. The institution appears more interested in power and capitalism than in serving God’s children. Religious institution aligned with wealth and political power is what ultimately killed Jesus.

GNT Proverbs 10:17 People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who will not admit that they are wrong are in danger.

GNT Proverbs 27:5 Better to correct someone openly than to let him think you don’t care for him at all. 6 Friends mean well, even when they hurt you. But when an enemy puts his arm around your shoulder — watch out!

GNT 2 Timothy 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and because he is coming to rule as King, I solemnly urge you 2 to preach the message, to insist upon proclaiming it (whether the time is right or not), to convince, reproach, and encourage, as you teach with all patience. 3 The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. 4 They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends. 5 But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances; endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the Good News, and perform your whole duty as a servant of God.

GNT James 5

1 And now, you rich people, listen to me! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths. 3 Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days.

4 You have not paid any wages to those who work in your fields. Listen to their complaints! The cries of those who gather in your crops have reached the ears of God, the Lord Almighty. 5 Your life here on earth has been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent people, and they do not resist you…

19 My friends, if any of you wander away from the truth and another one brings you back again, 20 remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from the wrong way will save that sinner’s soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

Stan has been in my feed for a while now. I noticed he was a conservative Christian. Still, I think he’s a decent man of faith. However, I also believe he’s lost the thread of Christ-centered living.

Jesus was in this world, but lived a life not of it.

As Christians (literally “followers of Christ”), to be “not of it” (not of this world) is to live a life set apart by its reflection of Jesus. To live a life “in the world but not of it” is to make ourselves a living reflection of the image of God who is love. We show ourselves to be “not of it” by the way our relationship with God transforms our heart and motivates our deeds.

When we are transformed by God who is love, we want to do more, to do good in this world. If belief doesn’t transform you, what have you believed? As the quote attributed to John Wesley states:

Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” ~John Wesley

How did Jesus show us how to do that? In His the life and teachings which we, as followers of Christ, are supposed to be following. His ways should be our ways.

Christ comforted and served those in need… the marginalized, the lost, the languishing. And, He challenged the wealthy and the powerful. Jesus specifically challenged the religious institution which had become a crushing weight upon the souls it should have comforted. That challenge is ultimately why the institution aligned itself with the political power of Rome to crucify Jesus.

So many Christians like Stan appear to worship the religious institution of Christianity — which has aligned itself with wealth and power today. Such Christians also give every indication of believing that to “be in the world but not of it” means to have no part in the stewardship of God’s creation nor any hand in the care of God’s children. It’s a mental contortion I admit I cannot fathom… to align with the worldly institution, yet believe themselves to be not of the world.

It seems to me that some Christians like Stan are more interested in protecting the institution. I feel like, to them the institution is more important than in living out the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I hope I am wrong. The example before us tells me otherwise.

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