Jesus is cool. Everybody likes Him, including pop-culture icons:
- I don’t think there is anything wrong with the teachings of Jesus, but I am suspicious of organized religion. (Madonna, entertainer, b. 1958).
- I’m a big fan of Jesus. But I’m not a big fan of those who work for him. (Bill Mahr, comedian and critic, b. 1956).
Evangelical Christian author Dan Kimball wrote a book on Millennials titled, They Like Jesus But Not the Church. Kimball likes Jesus too, but he added, “I probably would not like Christians if I weren’t one.”
A self-proclaimed “rogue pastor” named John Pavlovitz joined in with the critical chorus when he blogged, “Dear Church… Your love doesn’t look like love.” He wants to be seen as pro-love but not pro-church. He added, “From what we know about Jesus, we think he looks like love. The unfortunate thing is, you don’t look much like him.”
Blogger Rachel Held Evens used the same tactic to stereotype Jesus’ church in an article titled “Why Millennials are leaving the Church.” She declared, “We are not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.”
As a church-goer for six decades, I have seen a few flawed Christians up close and personal. I have been one myself. I have been hurt by a few and I have hurt a few. Still, the harsh stereotypes of the cool critics above are profoundly unkind and unfair.
The most loving, kind, brave, intelligent, compassionate, graceful, humble, giving, and unbigoted people I know are church-loving Christians. All my life I have seen Jesus’ church bring the love of Christ to a hurting world and bring family to those who have none. She is the bride of Christ and nothing else on earth compares to her. But you must decide for yourself.
Surveys find that those who claim to be born-again have the same divorce rates as the larger population. However, surveys that go further and ask if respondents actually attend church regularly find that church attenders have much lower divorce rates. That’s a meaningful distinction. It puts church in a more positive light than her critics seem willing to consider.
Fair-minded people do not negatively stereotype groups of people based on race, class, history, or gender. Yet, many today are proud to stereotype Jesus’ church based on surveys, polls, presumptions, and past hurts. The more unkind the criticism, the more noble the basher feels—simply because they began with a claim to like Jesus.
I don’t think Jesus is amused.
Church loving Christians welcome honest constructive criticism from inside and out. We want all our flaws and problems identified and dealt with objectively in a climate of love. Yes, we do! It is the stereotyping that we oppose. Going public with a broad-brush to heap scorn on Jesus’ church or “organized religion” seems more abusive than constructive.
If you belong to Jesus, you belong to His family. Support her. Love her. Defend her. But don’t worship her. Worship God!