Years ago when my daughter was learning how to spell, she saw my brother-in-law’s name and noticed something unique. His name is Brian. And in his name is my name: Ian. Perhaps you saw that coming.
On a similar note (but not really yet bare with me because I will make it come full circle), I read a news story that quoted Franklin Graham, yes the son of the late world renowned evangelical leader Billy Graham as promoting toughness among Christians. That is to say, we ought to be less like Jesus. And more like Graham's idol Donald J Trump - a world renown, tough talking, self-centered bully.
It’s hard to see Franklin’s point. At least from a minister and a Christian point of view, this kind of action doesn’t seem very Christian, at east not as Christ laid out in the gospels.
I’ve read all four gospels numerous times and nowhere could I find Jesus pushing people around to get what he wanted. Not once did he bully or belittle a human being to make himself look good. And I don’t think Jesus ever grabbed a woman in her private parts.
There’s a story that’s been preached on (and also refuted) that suggests Jesus promoted aggressive behavior when he drove all the merchants out of the Temple yard, which is in all four gospel accounts. In light of the entire gospel message, and by all the actions and words spoken by Christ, I don't think that argument holds up. Was it a one time event? Perhaps. But it doesn't match up to the rest of Jesus’ or our own story.
More than just chasing the crooks out, Jesus was clearing the way to welcome all people to worship in the one place God had promised to always be. God did not allow the Temple in Jerusalem to be just for the Jews anymore than God made Jesus for evangelicals.
While the name of God comes in many forms, followers of Christ have only one name: Christian. We are not Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant anymore than we are Baptist, Evangelical, or Methodist. We are Christian. One people with one goal: to live as Jesus lived. And if you need a refresher on what that entails, read the gospels.
In each of the four you will find a common theme: love. And if you want to know what that means, again I invite you to read the gospels. Pick one and read it. You’ll see how love does not mean love of self, but love of the other including those who hate you or revile you. That love means to serve others and not yourself. Love means giving to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.
The gospel does not change to fit our agenda. Instead it changes us to live more in harmony with God’s agenda...and with one another. This is the gospel, the truth, that Jesus taught.
I challenge you to read either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John and see for yourself if you are living up to the name of Jesus Christ through whom each person is able to be called a Christian.
I am a Christian, and I am proud to call myself one. As I like to point out, my life without Christ means I am just Ian.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”