Thursday, May 11 2023
A recent meme making the rounds on Facebook shows a woman in a Handmaid’s Tale outfit and quips- “Almost every justification I’ve seen today has used Bible verses, saying this country needs Jesus. Respectfully- no. It doesn’t. Christians need Jesus.” It goes on to speak of the separation of church and state and then closes with, “you’re not allowed to let your religion control the whole community.” When this first crossed my view, it stirred up all kinds of ideas in me. My first thought was, “Well you clearly don’t know Jesus then.” And immediately on the heels of that thought, another: “Why don’t they know Jesus? Haven’t met Him- haven’t run across Him when they’ve run across church? If this meme reflects reaction to an unknown Jesus or even a false Jesus, than what is the reason for that?” Jesus told us that people would know His followers by their love(John 13:35). You could take it further and say that if Jesus’ followers are to become like Him, than people should know us and ultimately Jesus by all of His character traits in us, including mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion, etc.
For those of you who feel that you’ve only met the Jesus of judgement, scorn, and shame, I apologize. You’ve been sold a lie and a fraudulent product neatly wrapped up with a festive bow and called religion. (John 3:16-17) As to the claim that ‘Christians need Jesus’, a resounding yes! Jesus came for all people because we’re all broken, all imperfect, all flawed and self-centered if left on our own. I can say without hesitation, “Yes, I need Jesus.” I am difficult, stubborn and unlovable at times (just ask my husband.) But because Jesus has poured out His love on me, I’m able to show mercy and love to the difficult and unlovable around me including those whom the world would label my enemies. If you can love and offer mercy perfectly without Jesus, than kudos to you. Yet, I wonder if whoever created this meme and also those sharing it see the irony in their actions with their judgmental post? Nah, probably not. They couldn’t possibly need Jesus to help them understand the perspective of someone different than themselves.
As for the ‘you can’t let your religion control the whole community’ statement, most followers of Christ that are focused on living out their own lives with integrity and compassion believe controlling anyone else’s life is an absolute NO. We have enough trouble controlling our own stuff without adding someone else’s! Are we there to help? Of course, that is our desire-initially- but the honest truth is our human emotions get in the way sometimes, too. Emotions are the reason this meme was created, shared, and now addressed by this post. We don’t live in a vacuum, we all live in community. My being a follower of Christ will matter in community. Your faith or lack of faith will matter in community. We are, in fact, free to express those perspectives and have no fear that we must toe the line of a state church- that is the separation of church and state.
I’m left with one more question as I ponder this meme. What is so wrong about Jesus? Jesus was a life of grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness just to begin with a litany of characteristics of pure love. What is so bad about those things? Shouldn’t the entire goal of humanity be to emulate those characteristics and to engage with one another in those ways? How can we say that we are a progressive society if we can’t even offer basic dignity in treating one another in loving and merciful ways? How can we say that we are followers of Christ? Maybe if we’re going to be so bold to make a claim about what the world really needs, we should be honest about the fact that we haven’t got all the answers, and to find them, we’ve got to welcome people of all ideas (including the Jesus people) into the conversation- we can’t any of us find the answers- nor live in community- in a free nation of free people- until WE find our source and purpose…. I don’t think we’ll find them unless we ask the Creator- respectfully.