By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
Sometimes I wonder what the Gospels would be like if Jesus embodied the Church rather than the Church being those who embodied Christ. In other words, what would it have been like had Jesus acted the way His Church does.
I imagine he would have gathered up his disciples and picketed outside the home of Mary Magdeline, screaming, “Prostitutes are going to Hell!” He probably would have preached about hatred being akin to murder and then hypocritically went on to grow bitter over the Pharisees and talk bad about them to his disciples when they weren’t around. When the sick would come to Jesus and beg for his healing touch, he would have looked the other direction and hurried his disciples on, “Places to be. Ministry to do.” When met with the woman at the well, he would have whispered to his disciples, “Do you have any idea what she’s done? Disgusting.”
That sounds ridiculous. Picturing Jesus doing and saying those things is crazy!
But is this not the picture we are painting for the world? We are called to be the Body of Christ. We are his hands and feet. The Church is meant to show the world who God is and what he’s like. By our words and our actions. By our love.
If that’s the case, then I don’t think we can blame the world for seeing Jesus as a judgmental, hypocritical hater. That’s how the world sees the Church, so that’s how they see God.
What have we done? We’ve messed up.
I think in order to get back on track, we have to look at how Jesus really acted, and by prayer, repentance, and the infilling of his Spirit, we can be a Church who truly reflects the image of God.
When Jesus met with sinners and haters, his first response was never judgmental, but instead, with words and actions, he showed them an alternative narrative. The people Christ ministered to were no strangers to judgment. They received it from almost everyone they encountered. That’s why when someone approached them with love and grace it was so radical! That’s what drew them to Jesus. That’s what prompted them to change. When Christ promoted an alternative narrative to the world, people wanted to be a part.
All too often, the Church has traded in the alternative narrative of Christ for the familiar narrative of the world. The swords of judgement and hatred are much easier to grasp than the plowshares of grace and love. When the Church has collided with the world outside its front doors, rather than mirroring Christ in the way we’ve spoken and acted, we’ve built walls to keep people out.
In everything we do and say, we show the world who Christ is. We must be true to who he is, to what he taught, and what he said.