A few years ago, a good friend of mine, author and pastor Brian McLaren wrote a magnificent, thought-provoking piece about the type of Christianity the world needs now. It’s more relevant than ever.
For my friends who are Christian leaders, please read and re-read the last two lines a few times. That’s really the whole thing there.
The deepest difference in Christianity is not what you think:
It is not the schism between East and West,
Protestant and Catholic,
High and Low Church,
Evangelical and Mainline,
Pentecostal and NonPentecostal,
or Conservative/Traditionalist and Mainline/Liberal.
No, the deepest difference in Christianity is the chasm
Between imperial and original Christianity,
Between a gospel of oppression and a gospel of liberation.
In comparison to this difference, other differences are trivial.
In fact, they are merely different forms of the same unoriginal thing.
The imperial gospel lives by the sword, the gun, and the bomb of violence; the original gospel lives by the basin and towel of service.
The imperial gospel loves money, pleasure, and power; the original gospel loves God, self, neighbor, and creation.
The imperial gospel pacifies the masses and makes them compliant with elites. The original gospel equips agents for justice, joy, and peace for all.
The imperial gospel follows violent men who kill and rule with an iron fist. The original gospel follows a nonviolent man who touches and heals with his nail-scarred hand.
The imperial gospel sends away children, women, the different, the sick, and the culturally, ethnically, and religiously other; the original gospel welcomes all, saying, “Come to me.”
The imperial gospel is a forgiveness racket, sparing you from torture if you play, pray, and pay by the rules. The original gospel is a journey to freedom, inviting the oppressed and oppressors to be transformed by the one rule of love.
The imperial gospel shows its true colors on Good Friday, with whip, thorn, mocking, spit, spear, and cross. The original gospel shows it true colors on Palm Sunday with tears for peace, on Maundy Thursday with an example of loving service, on Good Friday with the gracious prayer, “Forgive them!,” on Holy Saturday with the courage to wait in silence, and on Easter Sunday with an uprising of life to the full.
The deepest difference in Christianity is not what you think: it is not what you think.
(c) 2017, Brian McLaren