The Jesus Movement: Reclaiming Christianity in Jesus’ Name, part 1

We recently moved into a lovely new neighborhood. As we’ve been walking our dogs and getting to know our neighbors, I’ve discovered that nothing stops a conversation faster than telling someone you’re a minister—especially a Christian minister. You can see non-Christians tense up because they think they’re going to be judged. Others who call themselves Christians immediately presume I am a pro-life Republican, which, for those of you who know me, couldn’t be further from the truth. If there was something further to the left than the left-wing, that’s where I am—out there partying with Aristotle, Fourier, Mill—and Jesus.

It’s unfortunate that Christianity—at least Christianity in America, is now almost entirely associated with the far-right, evangelical, Tea-Party Republicans. Unfortunate and ironic, considering Jesus, and the early movement that formed around him, exhibited the most socialist of behaviors (Acts 4:32, for example). Christianity in 21st Century America is nothing like the Jesus I read about in The Bible. The evangelical right has made it difficult to say “I’m a Christian” to anyone, especially if your neighbors happen to be gay. Like Jesus, my family and I love everyone—no exceptions. We are members of a church that accepts everyone as they are, no questions asked. Yet when I meet strangers and they ask what I do for a living, I immediately need to start explaining myself because I’m lumped in with people who protest in front of abortion agencies, work in Congress to shut down rather than expand social services, fight for Big Corporations rather than the little guy, deny scientific evidence and pretend might is better than wisdom—all concepts Jesus clearly fought against in his lifetime.

As Christianity became institutionalized, Jesus—and especially his ideals, somehow got lost in the mix. Granted, Jesus didn’t start Christianity—that happened hundreds of years later. The people that originally gathered to learn more about his teachings—people who shared their food, their wealth, their love, would be shocked and appalled at the organization that has anointed itself in Jesus’ name.

I have begun looking for new ways and new words to state who I am and what my church is. Disciples is a good word. Our denomination is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Disciples are students—followers, and in that way we follow a man who was connected to the Great Mystery that is God, Universal Love, in a way unlike any other before or after. We don’t worship at the feet of Jesus, we do our best to emulate him. That means we love our neighbor, we abhor violence, we resist the powers that destroy community. We peacefully protest against injustice and wealth inequality. Like Jesus, we do what we can to feed, clothe, and shelter those on the fringes of society—which, due to a government filled with “Christians” more concerned with corporate profit than corporate love, is more and more of us every day.

Meditation: The infinite, loving energy of the universe flows through me. The infinite, loving energy of the universe IS me.

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