Last week I got a chance to grab a beer with my friend John after work. He started the same day I did at Demand Media and over the last year and a half or so, we’ve grown pretty close. After about 30 minutes of talking about music and records and quitting smoking and old friends, the conversation turned to the spiritual. John knows that I’m religious, and I know that John is okay with that even if we don’t agree. He has the kind of temperament that is cool with you no matter what, unless of course you make the claim that such and such band is the greatest band in the world…he has no tolerance for statements like that.
John has a desire for God, but he’s just not sure about Jesus. And not because he doesn’t see the importance or the attraction of Jesus. He really likes what Jesus taught and sees him as a very interesting and important person. The issue that John has with Jesus and with Christianity ultimately is that it seems you can’t accept Jesus without also accepting the Christian culture. He says he doesn’t want to join some social club just to be spiritual. And honestly, I don’t blame him.
If it wasn’t for falling in love with Jesus the way that I have, there is no way I would want anything to do with the church. I’m not saying that’s how everybody would be, but that’s at least true for me. And it’s not because there are no good people in the church. My closest, wisest friends I’ve made have been in the church. I was raised in the church. Many of the values I have were developed in church. There are many wonderful things the church offers, but it unfortunately does a lot that also creeps me out.
As John was talking and sharing his own issues with Jesus and the church and spirituality, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Not pity sad, but sad because of all the things that we have added to Jesus to make Him so distasteful to John. It makes me sad that people feel they must dress a certain way, vote a certain way, talk a certain way, and spend time a certain way to meet and get to know Jesus. It makes me sad to think that my friend John might miss the chance to meet Jesus and save his life because we add so many distasteful things to the process of knowing him.
Paul wrote that he wants to know only “Christ and Him crucified.” If only that were true for us. Then maybe people could see through all the bullshit, the smokescreens and mirrors, the Church creates to solidify it’s power in the world. They could see Jesus for who he is…the God who became man, the superman sent to die, the badass revolutionary standing up to religious and political leaders, turning over tables in the temple and fighting to his death for the salvation of His creation.
We settle for worshiping such a small god sometimes and it makes it easy for friends like John to dismiss Jesus as irrelevant and not worth the fraternal hazing required to join the Christian club. I’m just glad that despite our petty false worship, our God truly is big and his love for us is giant, more powerful than anything we can know.