Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jesus without Content


Dear Lord Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave to give me life. I know You are the only way to God. So now I want to quit disobeying You and start living for You. Please forgive me, change my life and show me how to know You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

It is commonly known as “The Sinner’s Prayer.” That particular version comes from the Christian Broadcasting Network.

I visited their website in search of an interview they did with Donald Trump.

If you click on a link labeled “Know Jesus” you will find yourself on a page called “Peace with God.” They have a very simple four step process ending with the Sinner’s Prayer.

Step one is recognizing that God loves you.

Step two is realizing that we are separated from God by our sin which, if unforgiven, will lead to death. But God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Step three is understanding that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin and bridged the gap between God and people.

Step four is receiving Christ as your personal savior. You must do that in order to be saved. Jesus is the only way to God and the only way to escape the punishment we deserve. But (lucky for you!) you can give your life over to Christ right now. All you need to do is to pray the prayer.

As near as I can tell, you don’t even need to be sincere, although that is not clearly spelled out.

G.K. Chesterton famously observed that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” But the CBN version of Christianity is not difficult at all.

Never mind taking up the cross, or loving your enemies, or turning the other cheek, or going the extra mile, or selling all that you have and giving it to the poor, or any of those other teachings of Jesus that seemed so difficult. You don’t need to worry about clothing the naked or feeding the hungry. 

Just say a prayer.

And just to be clear, you don't need to say a prayer for those who are poor or sick or oppressed. You just need to pray for Jesus to save you.

Don’t worry about doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. Don’t worry about letting justice roll down like a mighty river. Don’t worry about what Jesus taught or how Jesus lived, or what he actually asked of those who follow him.

What does it mean “to quit disobeying You and start living for You”? If we were looking at the teachings of Jesus, that could be a very challenging endeavor, but in terms of the Sinner’s Prayer, one suspects it is a vague reference to conventional morality.

If we reduce Christian faith to such meaningless jargon, it is no wonder that people can call themselves Christians and still embrace racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression. Jesus without his teachings is just an empty shell. You can fill it with whatever suits your fancy.



Thank you for reading. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome. Please feel free to share on social media as you wish.

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