Wednesday, February 14, 2024

They Don't Get Him.

I don't have a lot of fight in me. I just don't. ... hence the break from preaching. So there is some hesitation in bringing this up. I know that my comments won't be able to measure up to my actual concern regarding this topic. I also know that I won't have the endurance to battle any naysayers who want to critique my critique. Well. I am still going to try and say something. 

What inspired this? Well, there is already a hulabaloo over this: It is that Super Bowl ad. Yeah, that one. I hesitate even sharing it, but here it is: 

Why am I bringing this up? Why take the time? Shouldn't I just be happy something Jesus-y made it to the Super Bowl ad level of attention? No. And here's why:

Number One: Subtle Differences Reveal Major Divisions. 

Does Jesus exhibit love? Absolutely. Actually, let me cut to the chase... The church where I've been a pastor for several years and I continue to attend would welcome anyone through their doors. We do that because we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for anyone. If you hear anything that I say and think that I don't love or care about people, then you are not listening to me at all. 

Do I love the picture of Jesus washing his disciples' feet? Yes. Do I embrace the idea of hope for everyone? Yes again. Am I aware that there are some sectors of people bearing the label of "Christian" that have been hateful? Um. Yeah. That isn't in question. Not only in history, but even today. But that isn't a Christian problem or a Church problem, that is a human problem. Not just the Nazis... what about the Buddhists who kill Catholics or the Hindus who kill Muslims. People are pretty terrible.  But if you watched that ad and all you saw were beautiful pictures of love, you need to get your head out of you... um... you need to open your eyes

If you read the Story of Jesus and you think that the most important thing you need to say is "Love your Neighbor," then you've missed the point. And not only have you missed the point of the gospel message, I don't even think that you have your finger on the pulse of our current cultural moment.  We are not facing a crisis in America where people are not coming to Jesus because they don't think that he loves them. No. We are drowning in a sea of lost souls who are content to stay in their sin because they have embraced the version of Jesus portrayed in this video. This leads me to my second reason... 

Number Two: Jesus Portrayed

What does our culture need to know about Jesus? What do they need to see more than anything? If we had the ability and the access to tell the world anything about Jesus, what would we tell them? Especially if we had a full minute to talk uninterrupted?  What if we could include pictures and illustrations? What if we had an entire group of Christians (with funding) to brainstorm a message for America? What is the main thing that America needs to hear? Well, the group behind the video obviously thought that America needs to hear about love and acceptance no matter who you are and that Jesus isn't like all those bad Churchy Christians. 

Not only would I argue that the Bible doesn't actually portray Jesus like this, but I would also begin to defend Christ's bride... the Church. If you think you can separate Jesus from the Church like the group behind this video thinks (see here), I would begin to wonder if you are actually even reading the Bible. These sorts of portrayals of Jesus bear a lot more resemblance to the Jefferson Bible than they do to the actual Bible. If you are unaware of what I am referring to, it is the Bible that Thomas Jefferson Crafted with a Bible in one hand and a razor blade in the other. Thomas Jefferson cut out all of the stuff he didn't like and kept all of the love-your-neighbory sort of stuff. If you go for that sort of thing, then just go ahead and get yourself the pirate bible

I guess that what I'd like to say is that the next time any of us pre-dead people see Jesus, he won't be donning the towel to wash feet, he will be showing up with his angels to judge the living and the dead. If you think that the only difference we need to worry about is whether or not we've loved our neighbor, then you forgot that was the second greatest commandment. Sure, there are differences between sheep and goats that focus on our treatment of the "least of these" (Mt. 25:31-46), but there are also differences between wheat and tares (Mt. 13:24-43), between those who have oil for their lamps and those who don't (Mt. 25:1-13), those who are in the light and those who continue to walk in darkness (1 Jn. 1:6), those who are born again and those who are not (Jn. 3:1-8), those who maintain a friendship with the world thinking they are a friend of God (James 4:4), those who say they have faith but don't have works versus those who show their faith by their works (James 2:14-17), those who say they know him and those who keep his word (1 Jn. 2:4-6), those who serve money instead of God (Mt. 6:24), those who with humble heart turn to Christ in repentance and those who do not (Rev. 9:20-21), and those whose names are written in the book of life and those who names are not (Rev. 20:11-15). 

Jesus is Love embodied. But that love means nothing without an understanding of our need for someone to bear the wrath of God. And it means even less if we portray a Christ who doesn't demand that we leave all and forsake all to follow him. A Jesus that would say, "So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."  That doesn't sound very accepting. 

Number Three: The Gospel

What can we trim away from the Gospel message and it still be the Gospel? I would agree that we cannot get rid of the Love of Christ, that is essential. But is that the only thing that is essential? It is fairly clear from the agenda of the group behind the video that is basically all you need. (If you didn't pick up on that, you can read it here.)  

Using some search engine magic, I searched through their site. Sin is only mentioned in the word "sinners" and than Jesus invited them to the table. I could not find the word repent. Judgment was only mentioned as a bad thing that Jesus faced. No mention of hell. I found the word holy, but it was just an adjective for one of those bad men that passed by the Samaritan. I also found the word righteous, but it was just referencing "righteous ends that justify the dehumanizing means."  

The Gospel Message is no longer The Gospel Message if we do away with sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come (John 16:8).  The watered-down gospel of the he gets us ad is no gospel at all and does nothing but pave a broad highway for the followers of that false gospel to continue kumbaya-ing their way to hell. 

Wow. I just read through this for the podcast version. There is really so much more I could/should have said. 

To end on a positive note: 

This guy put together "The Christian Super Bowl Ad they SHOULD Have Made: 

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