I was skimming through Basic Christianity recently by John Stott. It’s a great book – gazillion copies sold. In the preface he touches on the disgust that many folks have for the institutional church today. He wrote the book in 1958.
…what they [young people] have rejected is the contemporary church, not Jesus Christ himself. It is precisely because they see a contradiction between the founder of Christianity and the current state of the church he founded that they are so critical and aloof. The person and teaching of Jesus have not lost their appeal, however. For one thing, he was himself an anti-establishment figure, and some of his words had revolutionary overtones. His ideals appear to have been incorruptible. He breathed love and peace wherever he went. And, for another thing, he invariably practised what he preached.
This dichotomy between the Church and Jesus is the struggle for today’s students of Jesus. They’re battling a large church establishment that has cornered the market on him, and that speak, and teach, often incorrectly, about his teachings.
Traditional interpretations of Jesus’ teaching conflict with the way he lived. This is illustrated by the fact that Jesus (more than any other person, ever) changed the world. And he did it in three years. Today’s Christians are fighting over who to vote for in the next election, as if that’ll change something.
The Christian message has to change. The voices are out there, and they reflect the real Jesus – who invites us to light up the world, and live life to the fullest.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson