Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one to have had a bad experience with professed Christians.
This is a supplemental post to my series, Jesus’ Subversive Kingdom. It’s more a commentary on the state of Jesus’ church today than about His subversive kingdom, but it is relevant to why we should pay attention to His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
According to recent surveys, most people still have a high regard for Jesus but a low one for Christians. What’s wrong with that picture! Shouldn’t we stop what we’re doing and honestly deal with the over-stuffed elephant in the room? We say we’re following Jesus, yet we don’t look or act like Him.
Apparently, Jesus isn’t driving people out of churches…we are!
I believe part of the reason is because of a lack of discipleship…or bad discipleship. Unfortunately, I have to make this distinction because the word “discipleship” has been pretty much evacuated of its biblical meaning. “Bad discipleship” would include things like filling peoples heads instead of teaching them how to open their hearts, studying about Him instead of knowing Him. We remain unchanged, oblivious to the Kingdom in us and around us. We become hypocritical, legalistic, ignoring or hiding our own sin while appearing righteous on the outside to others. I don’t really think we’re fooling anybody, do you?
Okay, cheer up…coming out of denial is the first step to recovery. 🙂
Like bad theology, bad discipleship is also like pornography. “The imagination of a real relationship without the risk of one. It tends to be transactional and propositional rather than relational and mysterious. You don’t have to trust Person, or care for Person…” (Bad Theology is like Pornography). Pornography is about sexual self-gratification, it’s a delusion that masks objectification with a false sense of intimacy. Bad discipleship is trying to follow Christ without actually being intimate with Him. That’s also a delusion.
I’ve talked to too many people over the years who got turned off to Christianity because of their negative experience with Christians and the church. This is a very sad commentary to me.
Sure, we “go to church,” we’ve learned the right lingo, we have our Bible studies, hear lots of messages, listen to worship music, and even know how to lead someone to Christ…yet there’s very little evidence of Christ-like transformation.
Can’t we just admit this thing is broken?
True discipleship is about the inner transformation of the soul. Without this transformation, we risk driving people away from God because we will project Him to them through our own wounds, fears, and insecurities, judging their weaknesses according to our strengths. We will hurt them thinking we’re serving God. And then we will disciple others to be just like us! Jesus called this the hypocritical “righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees”…
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matt.23:15)
Only Christ can free us from the log-eyed blindness that causes such wreckage in our relationships. And He’s very happy to do that…if we will trust Him.
I find myself agreeing with G.K. Chesterton when he said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” And this gets to the point of this series. To say you’re following Christ must mean you’re actually doing what He says.
And I’m not talking about some legalistic, rule-following, outward behavior modification. It’s about Christ re-formation working in us from the inside-out.
True discipleship is the continuing cooperative process with Christ that allows Him to work in and reshape the deepest and darkest parts of us, bringing us from glory to glory, cultivating a renewed mind and an open heart, becoming more like Him in this world (Rom.12:2; 2 Cor.3:18; 1 John 4:17).
With this in mind, we’re ready to look at the second question Jesus addresses in the Sermon on the Mount, “What is a good person?” next time.