|Do Evangelicals hate Jesus?|
(Mat 24:9 NKJV) "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and
kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.
The article "Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus" published in the Huffington Post on 03 March 2011, was based on a poll that they least supported what was defined as Jesus teachings - mercy and forgiveness, ie love. They tend to support the death penalty, the right to carry arms, torture, pro-business, pro-wars, oppose welfare etc. which appear opposite to the love commandments of Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus was perfect, and as such all of us are fallen short of His glory. If we define "hating Jesus" as not reaching the mark of character, then all of us would fall short, one way or another. Why pick on the Evangelicals as "hating Jesus" more? Perhaps it is because the Evangelicals are known to pick on others eg the GLBT community.
The bible talks about "hate" in the context of hating or being offended by the message of the Gospel rather than somehow failing to be a kind gentle lamb. The article confuses the teachings of Jesus with His character - the fruit of the Spirit - His kindness, love, grace and mercy. If we hate Jesus, surely it is to hate His message. His teaching was about the Kingdom of God, the kingdom to come which He is the second Adam rather than just being a good person.
If we were honest, Jesus' teachings are quite awkward for many. Although, we would not openly deny it, surely we don't believe Jesus' encounter with Satan in the desert. Some would dismissed it as metaphorical to avoid addressing the spiritual truths within, whilsts others eagerly embraced the message but over time succumbed to Satan's offer - political power, and wealth! The Catholics and Evangelicals ended up with much but to many sacrificed their conscience for the sake of worldy gains until they appear to many as not representative of Jesus.
(Luke 14:26 NKJV) "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Perhaps Evangelicals display less of the fruit of the Holy Spirit because they tried too hard to love Jesus, to do good works and be a good person to reflect Christ. Ultimately, this is a focus on self, which instead of producing the fruit of the Spirit leads to a Spirit of Self Righteousness - exalting oneself and denying grace to others. Christ is our focus and example not our self, intellect, traditions, or religious faith. He is to have supremacy over our lives, even our ourselves, family and nation.
Similarly, there is a danger on Queer theology focusing too much on us, our uniqueness and in some instance even justifying our faults. Our lives and theology may be centered around ourselves rather than God. We become judgemental failing to see the substantial substance in Evanglical Chirsitianity. Maybe, we are just as closed minded as the Evangelicals. We say that the conservatives are absolute in their theology but so do many of us worshiping our own absolutes that the bible was erroneous, or that Paul's writings should be simply discarded in view of the supremacy of the love commandments. We say we are reflective or progressive in our theology but more often making simple truths as a mystery because our intellect couldn't understand it.
The Evangelicals don't of course hold the monopoly on hate. The article fails to mention many other religions especially fundamentalist ones who hold the same kind of strict religious leanings as Huffington Post have alleged. Does it make them "Hate Jesus" as well? 9/11 was primarily motivated by misguided religious faith, the wars in Afganistan and Iraq stirred by the religious faith passions of the local populance.
The discples ain't much better. The Sons of Zebedee called down fire to destroy the cities in Samaria when they rejected Jesus. But didn't Jesus also said that it would be better in the day of judgement for Sodom and Gomorrah that the towns who had rejected the Gospel message of the disciples! Where were the disciples when Jesus was charged by the Pharisees - they were cursing and swearing to deny any connection with Jesus. They don't hate Jesus dont they?
(John 8:58 NKJV) Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
The Pharisees hated Jesus. Are we the modern day Pharisees of the bible who were extremely religious concerning the works to heaven, and called Jesus a blasphemer for daring to declare that He was God and the way to God the Father in heaven. We may not be much different:-
a) Talking about good works and morality to reach heaven or gain acceptance with God, insisting that our righteousness was sufficient. In many churches, salvation is mixed with the OT law, and we become very judgemental and selective in the use of the Jewish laws for example to condemn gays whilsts not applying the rest of the laws under such strict scrutiny to ourselves.
b) Denying the Jesus as God, and Saviour. The Pharisees denied Christ as the only way to God, to salvation. They sneered when Jesus said "no one can come to the Father except through me". Weren't they worshipping God in the Synagogue! "Where were you" they sharply criticised Jesus, when Abraham talked to God. Jesus answered, before Abraham, "I am" - no longer the 30 odd years old carpentar but God incarnate! present at the start of humanity.
They had worshipped the same God, just as many of the churches today worship God. Yet, Christ was the way ordained for men to be saved and the Pharisees were so insulted by the message of salvation in Christ alone as to crucify Him.
We "Hate Jesus" when we "hate" the message He was proclaiming, the message of Salvation through Him alone motivated by Love, Grace and mercy. Some Christians focused on the good works being displayed - the love shown, but missed the central message that this love took Jesus to the Cross of Calvary when there was no really a need to unless He was and is the Messiah. We often proclaim that "Love is God" when it should be "God is love".
The Evangelicals focused on righteousness in Christ and what they need to do to be "saved", but forgotten that it is His righteousness not ours. The more we try to be good, the worst we become - because it is His goodness displayed through us, His righteousness, and not our own. The fruit of the Spirit comes naturally when we behold God's grace and mercy in our lives. We love because He first loved us.
The Evangelicals descended to become the modern day Pharisees when they were afraid that the simplicity of Faith in Christ alone is not sufficient, but added to it, the religious laws. They could not see the lack of consistency of their approach to cherry pick the bible, yet not following all the Jewish Laws. Worst still, they took these laws to condemn the GLBT community bring upon themselves judgement by not following the rest of the laws. The high bar or scales of return judgement was set to condemn the Evangelicals themselves until it seems to others that they "hate Jesus".
The reason why Evangelical Christians show such disdain to show love, grace and mercy as highlighted in the Huffington Post, was because they were under the curse of the law which brings out the worst in people in order to bring them to a point of futility when they will finally see their blood stained hands and realised that Christ alone is more than sufficient. The harm they had caused against the GLBT community - the many lives lost, and lives destroyed or put into bondage, or simply rejecting the gospel message upon seeing the dark nature of these of people of faith is enormous.
(John 7:7 NKJV) "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.
Although there is much goodness in the world and in common humanity, it is the world that hates Jesus because He testified of the righteousness of God, the way to conquer sin and evil, is through Himself, a living sacrifice.
Jesus Christ did not come to condemn us for our sins and flaws - our failure to show basic humanity to others because we are already condemned by the very fact that we did not believe Jesus as the Lord and Saviour. He came to reach our hearts, that amongst the many alleged ways to God - whether obliging the law, worshipping the various prevailing religious faith, through power, wealth or politics, there may be room in the inn of our hearts for Jesus.
Jesus came to give us rest in Him, so that we can stop trying to be good, but to rest in the finished work of the Cross. As we behold the beauty of Christ, and we in fellowship with the Holy Spirit who is revealing more of Christ each day to us, we will be changed slowly but surely to relfect the character of God. It is effortless change that is sustainable because it changes us from the inside to the outside. Whilst, many Christians attempt to be good Christians by modifying their outward behaviour but inside remains as skeletons. Jesus called the Pharisees, white wash tombs, and they were.
The love of Christ is not only in feeding the physical needs of the human body but the spiritual needs of the human soul. We are to preach the Full Gospel, that God is not only Love, grace and mercy, but is personified in a saving grace declaring God's righteousness and morality. Evangelical Christianity is not static especially the Charismatics who in Singapore are starting to learn about the depths of God's grace and mercy when hitherto they were legalistic and law centered fearing to depart from the right.
When we claim that others hate Jesus, the questions come back to us, do we really love Jesus, do week seek to follow and imitate Him, do we really believe the simplicity of His teachings rather than watering it down to "love" in order to fit our own theology.
We will come to the conclusion that we too are far away from Christ, His life, and teachings and Kingdom message of salvation, and in need of God's Grace and mercy.