I am quite annoyed by the kind of homilies and sermons we hear in our churches today. It is true that in the past pastors only spoke of Hell and ignored the mercies and love of our Lord Jesus. This of course was because people weren’t very Christocentric. The Christ of the Gospels is both love and justice, and this was often overlooked in the past.
It seems that today’s churches are becoming more and more centered on Jesus. However, while people are become more Jesus-centric they are not really Christocentric. Allow me to explain.I often have to wonder, “What sort of Jesus do we follow today?” Are we really worshipping the Jesus of the Gospels or are we worshipping what I call a “teddy bear Jesus”? The teddy bear Jesus is more like a comfort toy whom people turn to when they “need” him, but otherwise he is only a Sunday thing. It is on Sunday that we decide to think about Jesus, and even then we do not think about or pray to the correct Jesus. We pray to the social justice Jesus who preached love and forgiveness, but deliberately overlook or water down his harder teachings because well, “we just can’t believe in a God like that.” But then, why read from the Gospel at all? Church is seen only as a social event, and sermons must reflect the atmosphere or else the pastor is a “fundamentalist.”
I fear that my post today is too angry, but the homily I heard today just got me thinking. Who is God? Do we really believe that Jesus is God or is he only a good man? If Jesus’ parables were only speaking of love and peace (which everyone incidentally supports but hardly anyone understands from a truly Christian perspective) then why did people try to stone him to death every time he gave a parable? Maybe the Jesus of the Gospels challenges us to, yes! , be actively engaged with the world but also to know that apart from God we can do nothing, and that someday we will have to render an account of our lives to God. People are so devoted to the historical Jesus that they have forgotten that he was God, something that history can never prove. Almost every Christian wants to follow Jesus, but our churches don't know who Jesus is. The Jesus that pastors preach is the tolerant, socially acceptable Jesus who never existed.
“To be sure, most people do have religiousness; they have it in the form of an idea, but they have not made up their minds about when it actually is to be used. Is it to be used on the day of need? No, then it is natural to become impatient and to despair halfway. Is it to be used on the day of joy? No, then it is not needed. Is it then for everyday use? No, then there is no proper occasion for it. Then when is it to be used!” - Søren Kierkegaard (Book On Adler)
Of course, it might just be better to go beyond mere religion to faith...