Dear Members of the World,
I’m just a guy, nobody really. Son of a preacher and missionary. Years and years of Vacation Bible Schools, summer camps, youth ski trips, revivals, choir trips – you name it. Even went to a Christian college and got a degree in religion. I ended up in the business world, but I’ve spent two decades tithing, sitting on committees, teaching Sunday School, going to seminars and conferences, etc. I even met my wife in the single’s class at church.
But just lately I’ve been trying to understand Jesus more, and stuff I never noticed before has really started to bug me. I’ve been taking a look around and I’m having a hard time making sense of what it is we’ve built. So, it just seemed like I need to take responsibility for the part I played.
I know you think that Christians are a big bunch of hypocrites. We say we’re more “religious” and we’re going to heaven and you’re not, and then we drive our big shiny cars with little fishies on the trunk and cut you off in traffic as we race by the homeless guy on the corner. We average just 2% of our money to church and charity, despite that we say the Bible is the word of God and it says we’re supposed to give everything. On average, we buy just as many big screen TVs and bass boats and fur coats and makeup and baseball cards and online porn as anybody else. Maybe more. You’ve seen leader after leader end up in jail or court or a sex scandal of one sort or another.
Well … you’re right. We’re guilty of all of it. We’ve done it all. And, I’m really sorry.
You see our cheesy TV shows and slick guys begging for money and you get that there’s something seriously sneaky and wrong here. A high-pressure call for money so they can stay on the air? Were we supposed to use Jesus as just another form of entertainment? Who do we think we’re kidding? Where’s Jesus in all this?
What happened to sacrifice and suffering and helping the poor? I’m just sick about this. I mean, the church leaders, they’re not all bad guys, there are lots and lots of really hard-working well-meaning folks who love and care and are meeting real needs in the community. But I’m just real sure those pastors don’t drive Bentley’s, have multi-million dollar homes and their own Lear jets! I mean, what “god” are we worshipping? Money? Ego? Power?
You see our massive shiny new buildings all over the place. Heck, maybe we even kicked you out of your house so we could expand our parking lots. You can’t figure out why we need four different Christian churches on four corners of the same intersection. We’ve got playgrounds and bowling alleys and basketball leagues. We’ve got Starbucks coffee in the sanctuary. We’ve got orchestras and giant chandeliers and fountains out front. We’ve got bookstores full of “Jesus junk” with every imaginable style and flavor of religious knick-knack. But where’s Jesus? Is this what HE wanted?
Oh, sure, there are good folks all over and not every church is such a mess, but we’ve got 33,000 denominations and most of them won’t talk to the other ones. We lose over $5 million a day to fraud from “trusted” people inside the church! We spend 95% of all our money on our own comforts and programs and happy family fun time shows and we let 250 MILLION Christians in other countries live on the very edge of starvation. Not to mention the billion or so that have never even once heard of Jesus – or the homeless guy downtown we almost ran over when we cut you off. Even the good churches are guilty of not putting a stop to all this sooner.
We’re as guilty as we can be. All of us. Nobody is exempt. But I can’t apologize on behalf of anyone else. This is about me.
I know that you might have gone to church as a kid and stopped going as soon as you could. I know that you might even have been abused by somebody in the church! Maybe we got you all fired up and then just let you drift off like we didn’t really care. Maybe you just don’t fit our “profile.” You might have piercings and purple hair or tattoos or been in jail — and somewhere inside you just know that even if you wanted to go to church one Sunday, it would not go well. I’m sorry for that. Jesus loves you. He always hung out with the most unexpected people. He had the biggest heart for the folks everybody else tried to ignore. What have we done? We’ve told you to put on a sweater and some loafers or you can’t go to heaven. I just want to throw up.
Look, I know you’re mad. And you have a right to be. We’ve done you wrong for a LONG time now. There’s some things about Jesus that people need to hear, but we’ve buried a beautiful masterpiece under hundreds of layers of soft pink latex paint. If you have a Bible handy, look up Matthew 23. Read it carefully. The Pharisees were the “religious” people of the day, the leaders of the faith. In this chapter Jesus SEVEN times says how pitiful and wretched and cursed they are for what they’re doing to the people they’re supposed to be leading. He even calls them “white washed tombs” and a “brood of vipers”! Read it and see if we are not doing EVERY single one of those things. Jesus can’t possibly be happy about what we’ve done to you.
Sure, we like to kid ourselves and pretend everything is OK – but it’s not. We’re hated because we’re a giant pack of hypocrites that say one thing and do something else altogether. If we were hated because we were like Jesus, that would be one thing, but that’s not it at all. You see right through our happy music and fluffy services and you can tell there’s something desperately wrong here. We’re no different than anybody else – except that we say we’re better than you.
It was never supposed to be like this. Jesus asked us to care for the widows and orphans, to feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit those in prison, reach the lost. He wanted us to love our enemies and pray for them. He cared about human justice and suffering, the lost and lonely. He never once said to go into all the world and build big buildings and divide up into factions and buy Bentleys. Just the opposite! I get that you’re mad at us and I think you have a right to be, but please understand, you’re mad at what we’ve made under our own power, you’re mad at “Churchianity.” That’s different than Christ and what he wanted. Don’t be mad at Jesus! This mess wasn’t His idea!
Look, I’m really sorry. I accept responsibility for my part in having hurt you. But I’m not going to do it any more. Not one penny more. God wants and expects more of us than this. And I’m not helping anybody that’s not fully committed to the same thing.
It took centuries to build this monster, so it’s not like it’s going to just turn around overnight. But the times are changing and we’re way overdue for something new. I’m sorry for all the time and money I’ve wasted. But Jesus saves. Really. The church itself isn’t even the point. Jesus is the real deal.
Please don’t think all Christians are just posers. Some of them really mean it when they say they belong to Christ. The problem is mostly in the West where we’re all comfy and complacent and seem to like it that way. The Christians in China and other places are deadly serious. There’s no room for anything but Jesus when you’re on the run from the government. They are dying every day for their faith and doing crazy hard things because they’re absolutely committed to Christ. These are martyrs. People willing to crucify little pieces of themselves every day to be more like Christ. People willing to set aside everything they want to do what Christ wants. People willing to rot in prison or take a beating or die if that’s what it’s going to take. People that act in pure love and never back down. I’m not worthy to tie their shoes. And there are some like that here, too, and I hope we can get a lot more people to start living that way. It’s way overdue.
If you’re talking to someone and they tell you they’re a Christian, ask them if they’re the kind of Christian that really means it all the time or the kind that just means it on Sunday. The Bible says we’ll know them by their “fruits” – by the faith and purity and love in their deeds and words. When you find one that proves Christ is in them by how much they love you, ask them to tell you all about Jesus. If you know one of those fearless martyrs that speaks nothing but pure, clean, hard Truth – ask lots of questions. Truth is a lot more rare than you would think. But don’t settle for soft, fluffy and comfortable anymore – that’s not in the Bible.
As for me and my house, we’re really sorry. From now on, we’re going to serve the Lord, not “Churchianity.” If I run into you someday, please give me a chance to shake your hand and apologize in person. I’m going to try harder from now on, I promise. I think there are lots of others feeling the same way, so don’t be surprised if you start hearing stuff like this more often.
Thanks for your time. I hope it helps.
His website- http://www.FellowshipOfTheMartyrs.com