It’s an acute kind of sickness that would cause those who rally around love to use the message in a way that would be unloving. I speculate it’s one of the largest contributing factors with young Americans currently moving to religions outside of Christianity. Young people have rightly deduced that America’s version of Christianity hasn't increased love in our world.
Consider our recent past. America, dehumanizing black people by way of mobs, lynchings, and scapegoating, sent young people across seas to fight and die over the way Nazis were dehumanizing Jews by way of… mobs, lynchings, and scapegoating. Am I suggesting it was wrong for us to defend the Jews? No. Though I am deeply conflicted about wars, in the end, I cannot make myself say it's wrong to fight on behalf of the oppressed. The actions and attitudes, in this case, of those in power in Germany were absurd and demonic. But, the point isn't to defend war but to name hypocrisy. While the actions and attitudes of those in power in Germany where absurd and demonic, so were the actions and attitudes of those in power in America. When you consider our collective religious conscious was informed by our interpretation of the Bible that has, as its central figure, Jesus, and, that our civil conscious was informed by the belief in “certain unalienable rights for all men” it may make our actions even more objectionable! We, who espouse grace, freedom, and inequality shipped our sons across seas for others, but back home we wouldn't walk them across tracks for others. In light of this, would it have been justifiable for the Allied forces to have invaded us to free black America?
You may, if you've taken the time to read this far, be thinking that this is an overreaction, that what happened in WWII was a long time ago, that things are different now. Sigh. I don’t think so. I think the same kinds of comments and questions can be applied to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Nicaragua, or all the wars going on in the Middle-East, and on and on. Those who call themselves Christians, in America, continue to misinterpret Biblical messages and themes. Blatantly.
The words of the Bible were never meant to be “weaponized.”
The words of the Bible were meant to point to the Word: Jesus.
Jesus is what the world needs. And not necessarily the Jesus the denomination, or Protestant, or Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox pushes. And certainly not the American, or Russian, or African, or fill the blank in, ______, national Jesus. How about simply a brown-skinned, under resourced, humble, non-sanctioned Jesus? The one who lived for all people in such a way that led him to die for all people.
The kinds of things I am talking about here are the kinds of things I hear young people in my circle, and in the circles I travel in, talk about all of the time. In fact, I think this whole post may have been inspired by the image of the college age kids I saw talking, laughing, and posting pictures at church yesterday. I'm encouraged by these young adults. I pray for them. I'm thankful for them. They're open, optimistic, and willing to work for a better future. I think young people in America are looking for the same kinds of things young people have always looked for, which isn’t necessarily a radical reason to fight, but rather, a radical reason to live. Jesus embodies that reason. He embraces all. He gives up power. He challenges assumptions. He's infinitely interesting. He is love. He is life.