Is there something about following Jesus that you find challenging?
No problem. Just assign it to the other kingdom — the one where Jesus can be ignored.
Jerry Falwell Jr., who understandably grew up under the bastardized gospel of hatred and exclusion his father so famously preached, sets the example for us.
In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Falwell the Lesser claimed there are two kingdoms, one heavenly and the other earthly. Jesus’ life and teachings apply only to the first, said Falwell, putting the late Saint Augustine into a grave spin,
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” apparently he was referring to just one segment of our lives. Following Jesus, we learn from Junior, is not a full-time commitment.
In fact, in the interview, Falwell mocked (“almost laughed out loud”) those who turn to Jesus for direction on how to treat the poor and children at risk.
How convenient! We get to choose when and where to follow Jesus.
All that mumbly-bumbly stuff about loving enemies, walking an extra mile, denying self, taking up a cross … forget it! This isn’t Sunday school, weak little Christians; this is the real world!
Simply limit Jesus to the compartment labeled “heavenly kingdom” — and feel free to ignore everything he said and did while sporting around in the earthly enclave where power, self-absorption and injustice reign.
In Caesar’s kingdom, in fact, it is perfectly acceptable (even preferred) to treat people in unloving, destructive ways if we fear them or they get in the way of our success.
Oh, the newfound convenience of a compartmentalized faith!
In our Sunday clothes we affirm that Jesus loves all the children of the world and the meek inherit the earth. But in the other kingdom, feel free to dismiss vulnerable children as political collateral.
In our Sunday clothes we sing “I have decided to follow Jesus.” But in the earthly realm we’ll erect a stop sign at the end of the first street.
In our Sunday clothes we read Jesus’ warnings about self-righteous, self-serving religion. But in the real world we’ll out hypocrite the Pharisees.
In our Sunday clothes we welcome a Christ child but eagerly and secretively wish for a mighty warrior to carry out our wishes.
Apparently, Jesus was confused; one can serve two masters. At least that’s the Gospel according to Junior.
However, just in case Junior is wrong, we might hold on to some of the stuff we learned from Sundays past — designed to be applied in all that we do. Including Jesus’ warnings that often began with, “Woe…”
Jesus seemed quite uninterested in part-time followers. For his is not a compartmentalized kingdom.
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