Forklift Theology

Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.

Christ-Like?

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People often seem to have a misunderstanding about who Jesus really was and what he really taught. Even Christians are guilty of this. Indeed, some Christians are even willing to subject themselves to abuse and mistreatment on the job as they, falsely, believe that is what Jesus would have them do.

At the time that I am writing writing this, a church down the street from me has this on their sign, “Remember when being a Christian meant Christ-Like?”. Sadly, this message is patently false. Its a great sentiment, but its completely false. As stated previously, people today seem to have misunderstanding about Jesus and what he taught.

To start with, in the 23rd chapter of Matthew, Jesus openly called his critics hypocrites. Sadly, this accusation is one he could easily make against those of us who consider ourselves his followers. He further calls the scribes and Pharisees “brood of vipers”. Again, this could be said of us who claim to follow him.

In the 2nd chapter of John, we read that Jesus made a “whip of cords” and drove out the money changers and those who were selling in the temple. He further dumped the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. Can you imagine how that would go over in many of our modern churches that have either coffee shops or book stores in them? I suspect that Jesus would have some strong words for those who ran the churches, the stores, and those who supported them.

This creates an interesting quandary. None of this is the Jesus that the world would want, nor is it the Jesus many churches teach. The Jesus they all want is the one who says “Judge not” or “For God so love the world that he gave his only son, so that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life”. Yes, that is the Jesus they want, never mind that both of those verses are snippets taken out of their proper contexts and used for a peaceful watered down message of loving everyone and not judging what others do, no matter how sinful it is. Even worse are those, like Joel Osteen, who teach that if you believe hard enough, God will give you every material blessing and make no mention of sin.

So then, the question we are confronted with is rather obvious. What does it truly mean to be a Christian? To follow the teachings of Jesus would be a good start. However, what of his example? To the modern mindset, some of what he said and did is quite appalling. True. Yet, what if we are looking at it wrongly? Yes. Truth is, very churches address those passages or if they are addresses, it is in a way that makes it nice and neat, though there is hardly anything neat about flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip. Yet, if we stopped there, we missed the point. In the case of the money changers, Jesus was setting an example that really is worthy of following. The example is quite simple, yet easy to miss. Jesus spoke plainly about how the temple should be a house of prayer, not a den of robbers. Jesus was making the point, by word and deed, and that greed and extortion have no place in the temple nor in our lives. Yes, a very vivid example, but an example all the same. He was standing up against sin in the church.

Sin? In the church? Yes. Sin has become quite prevalent in the church. Stop and think about it. Name, from scripture, a single priest that was female. Deborah doesn’t count, she was a prophetess, not a priest, big difference. Show where God has specifically said that two men or two women may marry and it is not sin? Yet, we have churches celebrating “gay marriage”. Also, I don’t care what the Huffington Post says, there was never anything endorsing polygamy in the Bible, just an acknowledgement that it happened, God never endorsed it. The first two chapters of Genesis prove that.

Note that these are not the only examples. There are a good many other sins within the church as well, just less obvious. I have observed a good many things in various churches across all denominations over the years. I have seen churches in which the pastor was a hiding a criminal who was in violation of their parole. I have seen embezzlement and theft by church staff. I have even seen so-called “exochurch” groups who buy items, use them, and then return them for a refund saying that the item didn’t suit their needs, never mind that the item did suit their needs and they used it according to that need. I will discuss “exochurch” groups another time, but let it be sufficient for now to say that sin exists within the church, no matter its denomination or form.

Thus, we get to the heart of the matter. Being a Christian, that is being Christ-Like, means taking a stand against sin. Yes, such a stand is very likely to make you unpopular with your peers. Jesus certainly didn’t win much in terms of popularity with the scribes and Pharisees. However, if a man (or woman) has sinned in the past and has since shown repentance and not returned to that particular sin, do not judge them as they are forgiven. It is only unrepentant sin that should be judged. Remember, we are also called to forgive sin. In the Lutheran church, we call this the office of the keys. The church will always have sinners and hypocrites in it, and there is always room for another. However, the church is there to bring them to repentance, much like a hospital is there to help people recover from serious injury.

Perhaps it could be best summarized this way. Jesus taught his followers that to be like him means standing firm upon God’s word and against all manner of sin. However, because we are a fallen race, we must first repent of our sins before we can stand against the sins of others. Sometimes standing against sin will require radical actions and will make us very unpopular in the eyes of the world. However, I would rather the world hate me than to have God hate me. Jesus told his disciples plainly that if the world hates them, its because the world hated him. That is what it means to be a Christian.

Christians should not allow themselves to be abused unnecessarily on the job. Employers should not permit any employee to be abused. The day is coming, and now is, when Christians throughout the world will be executed for their faith. However, there is no sin in standing up for yourself when others try to beat you down. No self martyrdom allowed. Jesus called us to live in this world and speak the message of salvation by his death upon the cross and his resurrection from the grave.

If you truly feel mistreated on the job, find another job. You are not suffering for your faith, you are only making yourself look bad. The only suffering you are experiencing is what you’ve placed upon yourself. True suffering for Christ only comes when your are being mistreated for your faith, not your work ethic. No sensible employer is going to mistreat an employee with a good work ethic.

What Would Jesus Do? He would stand firm against sin. As Christians, that is what we are to do. How do we define sin? According to God’s holy word, the Bible. Perhaps its time that some Christians took the time to dust it off and read it, then they’d understand what being “Christ-Like” truly means.

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