Why we should stop twisting Christ into political balloon animals
Hey, I’m your newest subscriber (like, from eight minutes ago). Welcome, from Houston! So, don’t kill me but your “Woke Jesus” (love that particle) closing sentence — “Besides, whether Jesus was woke or wasn’t, if we loved our neighbors as much as we loved ourselves, labeling concerns would no longer be of any” — might that be one of those awkward-sounding, dangled preposition-avoiding or similar sentences? That penultimate word, “of,” bothers me, maybe more than anything else? Just tell me you’ve done this wittingly. Thanks, and keep up the great work.
Matt, you say the things that I think, but am unable to articulate. Like you, I am a born and bred Southern Baptist. At some point, however, I became burdened by having to pretend that I agreed with the preachers and deacons (deacons, especially) who seemed to be using the Bible for their own benefit rather than as a tool to save the lost. I can remember meetings where the hot topic was "getting back to administering church discipline," when I felt it would be much more Jesus-like to support and counsel the poor bastard who got too drunk on Saturday night to show up for Sunday School the next morning. It all began to feel like we were doing Jesus's job for Him...condemning the sinners before we even helped them see the light. Regardless, I've moved away from those influences and found more mellow souls with whom to worship. I still love Jesus and I know He's my salvation. I'm just letting Him do the heavy lifting now. Keep up the great work! Merry Christmas!
Off-topic a bit, but Jesus-related. As 2022 sees itself out, I must thank you for an earlier piece that turned me on to "Jesus is My Coach" Jesus sport figurines. No price was too high to gift my dear Roman Catholic friend and fellow quarantine-era golf-newbie the Jesus Sports Figurine Golf. It is a brilliant piece of kitsch, although meant to be seriously (?) inspirational.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And……‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Marked the end of my relationship with evangelical community writ large.
Look, both that community and my own journey are much more ...uh... complex, but the inability to live even close to this simple precept has in practice meant that we have irreconcilable differences.
My favorite. You missed your calling as a pastor--forget Chuck Swindler. I'd sign up for your morning devotionals.
Matt, I am a little behind on reading your newsletters. I know that it will take me at least 20 minutes to read and THEN another 30 mins or more to read all of the amazing comments....it is so much easier to just get back to doomscrolling on Twitter. Sad. Love your writing and so happy to have found this community!
At the Lutheran church I dutifully take my Mother too they pray, “Our Father, Our Mother, Our Creator who art in heaven” shortly after starting the service with the land acknowledgment. This while the Black Lives Manner hanging on the building flaps in the wind. They encourage wearing a red, yellow or green bracelet, that can be picked up when you enter the sanctuary, to tell people how close they can get because, “at American Lutheran we practice sacred consent”.
These Lutherans are not the same tribe I grew up with or that educated me. My sweet Mother, if she could remember the last two words spoken to her, would not approve and this is where I see God’s grace in her dementia. She is blissfully ignorant to the white/woke noise of it all. She wants to confess her faith in the words of the Apostle’s Creed, take communion, and sing the “good hymns” as she calls them. The ones like “How Great thou Art”.
Week after week while I sit through this woke-fest the Holy Spirit impresses on me that the art of being a believer in the world today, is tuning out all the ways man tries to make Jesus fit the image he/she/they has for Him/Her/They. My job is simply to leave the building knowing I’m doing right by my Mom because pure religion is about taking care of the widows and orphans despite the woke noise.
As any ex-Southern Baptist can tell you, there ain't no hater like a Jesus hater. But it's difficult for me to read the words of Jesus and his message/ministry of radical inclusion for everyone - especially the most marginalized outcasts of his life and times and find people who aren't worthy of or don't deserve God's love.
Matt, the larger communion cups pushed me over the edge. I had to read the rest of the woke Jesus bit and after doing so had to comp a subscription to my cousin as well so we could laugh at it together. Reminded me of the time my brother passed me the “cup” with a toothpick in it and I was ushered out to the foyer in tears of laughter. I love your style and humor. God bless you and keep it coming. JC
I am in your agnostic camp. You didn’t mention us wafflers in the middle - neither believing nor denying. Maybe trying to walk through life following Pascal’s Wager. This is a very nice piece leaning towards the believing column. However, it’s good that you are a writer because your math sucks. 70 times 7 is 490.
It's about being transformed. It's not avoiding doing wrong or generosity of helpful activity. It's a way of emptying oneself of all fret, worry, regret, and letting oneself be the way one is meant to be - not the way one is habituated to be. Guess who puts the most junk in one's way to be...just to be? It's only then that one can love without restriction and without judgment. Being sinless is NOT prescriptive. It is descriptive of how one would be, when transformed (emptied).
The column seemed unnecessarily and ironically mean-spirited, considering the topic. Judgmental when attempting to take judgmental people to task. I'm not sure I know who "the woke" are, but little of the criticism that seemed the core of the article is limited to one group or point on any spectrum, political or otherwise. Nice bonus tracks, though.
Thanks M. Was thinking about you when I wrote that, among others. Yes, the Bible, and most other religious texts, contain advice of value to the believer and non believer alike. I was thinking of a Simon and Garfunkel tune when considering the life of Jesus. " Keep the Customer Satisfied". With apologies to Paul Simon, the lyrics applied to Christ might go
Pontius Pilate said to me, " tell me what you come here for boy. You better pack your bags and leave. Your in trouble boy and now your headed into more."
Its the same old story, everywhere I go, I get slandered. Libeled. I hear words you'll never read in the Bible.
And I'm oh so tired.
Just one step ahead of the shoe shine.
Two steps ahead of the county line,
Just trying to keep my people satisfied, satisfied.
Shine on Jesus. Shine on.
Such a fun and thought provoking read. Thank you Matt.
Do you know what woke used to mean? Ii was slang in the black community, meaning, to keep an eye out for the police. Not kidding. Stay Woke = watch out for the cops.
Did J have his eyes out for the cops? Obviously not.
When a powerful artificial intelligence computer is asked a question about Jesus' economic preference, here was its answer:
"Jesus emphasized the importance of helping others, especially the poor and disadvantaged, and taught his followers to love their neighbors as themselves. He also criticized greed and the pursuit of wealth, and advocated for a community-focused approach to life in which people shared their resources and took care of one another.
In the book of Acts in the Christian New Testament, the concept of the common purse" refers to a system in which the members of the early Christian community shared their resources and possessions with one another. This is described in Acts 2:44-45, which says, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." This passage suggests that the early Christians practiced a form of socialism or communitarianism in which they voluntarily shared their resources in order to meet the needs of the community. The idea of the common purse was seen as a way to put into practice Jesus' teachings about loving one's neighbor and caring for the poor and disadvantaged."
Don't look at me. I'm just the messenger. Is this woke? Keep in mind, I honestly don't really know what woke means, other than being anything the R's don't like. If it's mostly about gender, I had a person of unidentifiable gender assist me in a men's haberdashery and I just kept using the pronoun, "dude." I didn't detect any offense taken, and the person was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. For that kind of service, I was immensely grateful.