When I was young and reading the Bible, I couldn’t understand how people could accept an anti-Christ instead of Jesus. I mean we have the warnings in scripture. We have the Sermon on the Mount. How could people make such a huge mistake?
I don’t wonder anymore. Sadly, people who claim to be Christian embrace a message of hate, exclusion, greed and selfishness that is the antithesis of everything Jesus taught. They have adopted a few mantras that identify them as true believers although the subjects of those mantras, specifically abortion and homosexuality, were never ever mentioned by Jesus.
Sadly, now I know how the crowds, who went out on Palm Sunday and placed their clothing and palm branches in the street before Jesus, could turn, and on Thursday cry, “Crucify Him.”
People want a savior, but they don’t want to do the internal work of being a better person. Every time the anti-Christ has replaced Christianity, the story is the same. People want a few pat phrases and rituals they can perform in order to appease God. Becoming god-like themselves is unappealing other than the power part. The power part is fun.
Curiously, according to the Bible, God does not exercise power over people. God gives us choices. When we choose wrong, God gives us another chance. Those, who have actually read the Bible to see what it says instead of how to use it to manipulate others, learn that the whole book is about God giving choices, people messing-up big time, and God giving them another chance. Eventually, near the end of the book, God intervenes simplifying the rules, and in some ways, the bar was raised to loving one another as Jesus demonstrated love. That is it.
We don’t have any mantras to say or ritual tasks to perform. We just have to love immigrants, people of any color, people of any religion, people of no religion and all of God’s creation.
I still have many people ask me, “Well, what do you do when the immigrants are trying to kill you?”
I’d love to answer people, “Turn off the damn TV!”
The spiritual answer is harder to accept but it comes back to the whole message of Holy Week and Easter. Do not be afraid of death. Really, people are so afraid of dying they never live. The message of Easter is that what we call death is just a passage from one dimension to another.
How do we deal with those who claim Christianity, but are following a twisted perverted path? These folks are perhaps the most powerful force destroying our nation and God’s creation. The answer is to step over the dead bodies, which is what they are, and continue to welcome strangers, feed the hungry, house the homeless, fight for social justice, heal the sick, or in simple terms, love as Jesus loved. I don’t doubt the followers of the anti-christ are going to make some serious trouble for us, but the message of Holy Week is that those who form bonds with strangers, their families, and neighbors will come out right in the end.