Monday, May 23, 2011

The Jesus I Know

By Tammy Lou Waite
Originally Posted on May 16, 2010

When I was 5, my mother started taking me to church. She didn't drive and my father wasn't a church goer yet, so we took the bus from the First Baptist Church of Stow that picked people up for Sunday School.

I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 5 years old and I was in love with Him. They taught me he was kind and that He made sick people better and cared about widows and orphans. When He saw someone in need, he met that need. When he saw someone being mistreated or abused, like the woman at the well, he stopped them in their tracks. He forgave any sin, he even asked God to forgive the people who were crucifying him while he hung on the cross.

I love that Jesus. I worship that Jesus. I have spent my life serving that Jesus.

But there is another Jesus getting a lot of press these days. He's not very kind or tolerant, and He has very little compassion. People invoke this new Jesus' name and do all manner of detestable things.

I saw a man who calls himself a pastor (Westboro Baptist Church) interrupting a dead soldiers funeral, who said Jesus hates the dead soldiers because they fought in an army that allows gays. The Jesus I know would not have said that.

Also, it's apparently unpopular to care for the needy these days presumably because it's their own damned fault and if you want to help them anyway, you're a socialist. The Jesus I know doesn't feel that way.

I have always loved the slogan on the Salvation Army building "We see the need, not the cause."

Certainly many people who are down and out got there because of bad choices. But does that mean we leave them in the gutter? The Jesus I grew up with would stop and help them. But this new Jesus I keep hearing about is much harsher.

But I have a problem with the new Jesus. I've read the Bible. I've seen the words in red letters that came out of his mouth when He was on Earth. He never mentioned Gay Marriage, or Abortion. Not once. You'd think if those were the two topics closest to His heart, He would have made sure we knew that in His time here. He never registered with any political party either.. Instead, He spoke about... well, let me show you from Matthew 25...

Matthew 25- 31-40 The Message translation...

31-33"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

34-36"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

So tell me, how could someone read that and think Jesus meant he didn't want us to help people? And Jesus didn't say "Only if they are Americans!" because of course, America didn't exist. If you see someone in need, and you can meet their need, do it! Period. My Jesus doesn't care on which side of the border they were born, He still wants His church to love you.

Here's where I think the church has it wrong. We were commanded to do two things by Jesus;
" Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and Love your neighbor as yourself."

But instead, some factions of the church have appointed themselves the morality police.

Instead of going to a pregnant teenager and saying "Here, let us help you figure out how to care for your baby." the followers of the New Jesus choose to protest, (or worse) blow up abortion clinics. While I don't believe in abortion, I also don't believe in bombing abortion clinics.

Although I'm not Catholic, I read a beautiful book by Pope John Paul II entitled "The Gospel of Life" which made a compelling case against abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and any other instance where we consider taking matters of life and death into our own hands. The Jesus the Pope and I know is against that.

Instead of welcoming gays and lesbians into their church to hear the Gospel, the followers of New Jesus made sure the gay community knew the church would not welcome them. I've even seen signs that say "God hates Fags."

That's not the Jesus I know. He doesn't hate any of us. He hates sin. He hates your sin, my sin, everyone's sin. But we humans have decided to place a rating scale on sin and decide which ones Jesus hates most and have decided to help Him out by chasing those people out of His kingdom. I don't think the Jesus I know wants that sort of help from us. It's the backwards thinking of the church to try and clean the fish before we catch them.

I am tenderhearted and I won't apologize for that. I am the child of two kind people- we always had some misbegotten soul at our house- my parents took in wayward hookers and drug dealers and various people that came to my Dad for counseling.

Instead of handing them a good word and sending them on their way, he let them come home with him! That's love. Love isn't saying "I'll pray for you." and going on about your day. The Jesus I know wants us to love people tangibly by feeding them a meal, (Like my adorable friend Heidi! Watch that girl go!) giving them a place to sleep for the night (You saw The Blind Side, right?)

An African proverb says "Hungry stomachs have no ears." meaning that you can't talk to someone about the Gospel when they are starving to death. Their immediate needs must be addressed first before we preach to them. Certainly Jesus urged people to repent, but He rescued them and healed them first. He always responded in love.

The things the followers of New Jesus seem wrong and foreign to me. For instance, radio host Glenn Beck urged Christians to leave their churches if they practice social justice, like you know, feeding the poor... (Remember that pesky Bible passage above?)

They believe that their Jesus condemns, judges and hates. He is selfish and grabs what's his without considering the plight of the people He is keeping it from until the step into line. The people who follow him are loud and can out scream the followers of the meek peacemaker Jesus that I know every time.

Does the fact that they are louder mean they are right?

No. And thankfully, there are people who know the same Jesus I know, like my co-blogger Timothy Hughes which is one of the things that got us fired up to write our blog in the first place. We're going to speak up for the Jesus we learned about in Sunday School because we believe He's the real deal.

The New Jesus is clearly an impostor.

Tammy Waite is a freelance writer based in San Diego, CA. She currently works at the Rock Church in San Diego, the 5th fastest growing church in America. She was a Political Science Major at the University of Akron and did a political internship on Jimmy Carter's Presidential campaign in 1980.


  1. Tamilu,
    So proud of you! Baby you're a superstar. Please don't ever stop blazing your trail.

    Your friend,
    thug nation

  2. We're in the together, Thug. Half the country is locked in the Matrix and all we have are words to try and free them and lead them back to Truth.

  3. That is lovely. Thank you.

  4. Theologically, I'm a conservative Christian. I believe in the Trinity, the inerrancy of scripture, hell, and a few other things lots of liberal Christians don't believe in. However, the more I read the Bible, the more politically liberal I've become. I cannot understand how in the world the majority of evangelicals and a growing majority of Catholics, choose to vote republican and use their faith as a justification for doing so. The religious right is holding the Church hostage with two issues: Abortion and gay rights. And the funny thing is that the right will never EVER give Christians what they want as far as abortion. They will never reverse Rowe vs Wade, but they'll always promise to do it. They will never do it because they know that if they ever did, the Christians that vote for them would lose the only incentive they have. It's sad.

  5. Thanks so much for this last comment! It definitely seems like there has been a shift toward the center/left in the last few years among people who hold classically "conservative" Christian theological beliefs like yourself, and we have even had some of them identify enough with the "Religious Left" to write for the site!

    Like you said, reproductive and civil rights are definitely at the crux of this shift, but it seems a large number of young, evangelical Christians have also been turned off of conservative politics by emerging concerns like environmental issues as well.

    Either way, you are most welcome. Thanks for reading!