I’ve become increasingly aware over the last few months, that I live in a culture obsessed with death.
I grew up in a conservative, evangelical, christian, white, middle-class, north american home. This is my cultural background. Actually, it’s also my cultural present.
Pick any news site now. Go ahead, think of one. Go to their website, and count how many articles you see that are death-related. If you do this, let us know in the comments what you saw.
My cultural background, specifically the Christian part, is just as obsessed with death as the U.S. media.
Evangelicals think it’s only a Catholic problem. I haven’t asked a Catholic, but my sense is that they’d disagree.
I can only speak from my experience.
I grew up seeing pictures of Jesus hanging on a cross. Catholics leave him there, Evangelicals take him down.
I remember being judgmental of “those Catholics” because of their strong focus on Jesus’ death. Real Christians didn’t focus on the fact that he died, but that he rose again after three days and still lives today. Hence, the empty cross.
I’m now convinced the Evangelical perspective completely misses the point of the gospel.
Jesus didn’t come to earth just to die for our sins and then come back to life so that we’d have hope.
Jesus was here to show us how to live.
Photo credit: Amy Lynne Photography
If you’re a Bible reader, or interested at all, it’s the place to go to learn about that Jesus guy the religious people talk about.
In Luke 9, Jesus sent out the apostles to preach the Kingdom of God. So he sent the disciples out to essentially evangelize, but what were they preaching? I’m used to hearing that the gospel of salvation is that Jesus came to die for our sins. The apostles didn’t know that. Jesus hadn’t even talked about his death, yet.
They weren’t sent out to tell people, “hey there is this guy in my home town who says he’s the son of God. Pretty soon he’s going to die, then come back to life, so that you can be forgiven for your sins. Come see the show!”
No, they went to share the Kingdom of God. They went to share the truth that Jesus was already teaching and living. They went to love all and heal the sick. That’s all he told them to do. I’m not kidding. Read it for yourself:
1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
After that, they all gathered back together. I’m not sure how they knew when and where to meet up without texting each other, but they managed to gather after traveling to all the distant towns.
So they all came together again to move forward with more of the story. By this time, people were so excited that all the disciples were there, and even Jesus himself, that thousands gathered to see and hear. I imagine it was like a music festival with Michael Jackson headlining. People couldn’t contain themselves. But these weren’t just any people, they were poor, and no food fenders selling slices of overpriced pizza could be found anywhere.
People were hungry, but more so for what Jesus had to offer other than food. What was he offering? A Romans Road Salvation plan? A confession booth? An obsession with his miraculous death and resurrection?
I think Jesus offered life. Jesus offered dignity. Healing. Wholeness. Peace. A reflection of ourselves in his eyes. Not as sinners in need of a savior but as broken, poor people in need of the truth that we are artwork.
I really hope that in a culture obsessed with death, that there are people who are looking straight into the eyes of Jesus, to no longer see any fear, but to see freedom and life.