“So what if you believe there is a God? Is the Gospel a giant college entrance exam? I believe there is a God myself, but—big deal—that’s just in the head. It asks almost nothing of me. It doesn’t change my life or yours. Mere belief systems largely create defensive and offensive people trying to prove that my God is better than your God, and I am better than you. Is this not evident from our history? Most groups defended their petty image of God and religion, even with war and torture, with little concern for the poor, the outsider, and those who had to suffer because of their beliefs. Jesus went wherever the pain was, and far too often, we have instead been the creators of pain for others. We have been in the wrong place and utterly wrong position to meet the real Jesus.”
(Richard Rohr, Adapted from The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered, by Mike Todd)
I am so not there! I often wonder, “Just how much am I like the Pharisees and how much am I like Jesus?” I do not like the answer I get back. The gospel I have been taught and lived is much closer to that of the Pharisee’s. It’s all about the externals. I am a white washed tomb. I believe all the right things and that in turn eases my mind from doing the right actions.
However, wasn’t it Jesus that said
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!”
“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. … I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me. And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Give me the gospel I had. The one where I only had to deal with my attitudes and beliefs. You know the one all about grace. I’d take that one over the one Jesus gave me. But then maybe it will put me in the wrong place and utterly wrong position to meet the real Jesus.