Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Great Commission as understood by a Kindergarten Christian

Jesu said:  “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the end of the age.”  Holy Bible, Mathew 28:16
When I read this I consider what a luke warm Christian I am personally.  I realize that those nut bar Christians that are embarrassing everyone sane by preaching on soapboxes and ranting on late night television are indeed just following the Great Commission.
Jesus gave this message to the 11 disciples so as I like to read the Bible for loopholes like lawyers, accountants and Pharisees,  I’d say this Great Commission was meant for the church leadership. Not for me.
Yet I did take the time to get a Masters of Theology and studied at various seminaries and am supposedly an elder. My emotional age isn’t anything near my grey hair stage.  Yet here’s this clearly Evangelical statement and I don’t particularly like talking about Jesus with others. It’s awkward.  I mean, if I’m asked I’ll speak. I wear a cross to show that I’m a Christian. Also it does remind me that I’m at least trying to be ‘good’.  Like the song “Johnny Be Good”  Good.  Godly.  So, if I was going into a whorehouse or a bar I might see a reflection of myself in the glass and note the cross and ask if this is really where a Christian should be. Knowing myself I’d probably follow that up with the lame lie that I’m going in to evangelize.  I would have years ago.  Now I avoid places that don’t like dogs and children.There are some signs that I'm progressing in this spiritual journey.
I think as a modern day Christian one really shouldn’t be indiscrete about their religious affiliation.  It’s alright for the vegans to be the loudest kids in the room.  It’s alright for the pot smokers to stink up a place. It’s alright for all the politicos to go on and on about elections. It’s even alright to get really passionate about football.  But one really shouldn’t discuss the teachings of Jesus.  Philosophy yes.  Ethics even.  But ‘to obey everything that I have commanded you’.  What exactly did Jesus command.  “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
“Make disciples of all the Nations”.  That doesn’t sound ‘ecumenical’ or ‘diverse’ or at all politically correct.  The Great Commission says that I’m to make disciples of the Nations.  That sounds as bad as Moslem world dominon or like the Catholic Church in the dark ages.  It’s fairly colonial if you think of it.  Very in your face.
Not quite my kind of Christian.  Not someone you’d have for dinner.  Sounds like a megalomaniac.  A twit wit really. I wouldn’t want to be that kind of Christian.
Yet that’s the command, it seems.  “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.”  Jesus says.
“Baptist them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
That’s clearly trinitarian.  Three person god.  The three faces of the One.  A multiple personality disorder God.  Not a neat ‘Father’ only God not an Allah, not a Creator alone God,  but a Parent Child God and an invisible God.  Weird almost science fiction stuff.
And Baptizing.  Should I be going about the world staying in youth hostels and shooting strangers in the face with a water pistol.  Don’t think that would go over well in Muslim countries or with the atheists of China.  Evangelism can seriously get a Christian arrested.
I know that the early disciples were martyred.  Just saying you were a Christian can still get you killed all over the world. Christians are the most persecuted people in history.  But you wouldn’t know that.  It’s not like Christians control the airways and the television.  If you asked kids who was most persecuted, they’d probably says the Republic on Star Wars. .
Most Christians are not fond of the idea of being martyred.  Nice church services.  Great music.  Safe hanging out with other Christians.  Sanitized Christianity.  Martyrdom mostly never has ever appealed to Christians.  Given the choice of denying the relationship with Jesus, even Peter, at first chance, denied Jesus.
It’s just something Christians do.We're sinners. Christianity is Sinners Anonymous. Except the Great Commission unfortunately says we're not supposed to be anonymous.  Damn.
It's not dissimilar to Adam wearing fig leaf when God talked to him after eating the Apple.We're kind of ashamed of being Christian.  At least that's our behaviour.  Mine anyway.  It's not like I really wanted to be a Christian. It's so much easier to be Politically Correct.  Atheism is hip and always has been.  Better to be a critic than to actually espouse anything original.  Christianity just isn't that fashionable, not like Sex in the City.  I wouldn't watch a tv series Jesus in the City, that's for sure.
Now the academic in me wonders if this “Great Commission” was really what Jesus said.  Or was it added sometime later. It’s not mentioned in all the gospels.  It’s big in Mathew but Mark is thought to be the earliest text and it’s not there.  So it’s possible that it’s mistranslated.  It’s possible that Jesus didn’t really say this quite like this.
Now I don’t doubt the line ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.”  I think of Jesus as spectacular, as real spiritual Goreski skating about ancient history. If he hadn't been born in a desert he'd have been a hockey player for sure.   He’s the word of God. He’s God.  I can accept all that. It’s easy to ‘believe’.  I can sit in a classroom and agree with all manner of nonsense I learn. The only problem happens when the teacher says ‘now, you do something’.  It’s like language classes.  A whole lot of fun till I’m asked to speak. Then it’s really embarrassing.  So I don’t think I have any problem with Jesus, per se.
It’s that line “go and make disciples of all the nations’.  It's Evangelism that sucks.  That suggests I have to convince strangers and others that Jesus is Lord and I have to get them to let me drown them.  Not drown them but at least dunk them. I started out as a Baptist and we believed in full body immersion.  But when I got to the university and became really educated I moved to the Anglican church where we sort of lightly sprinkle or dribble water on the forehead.  None of this overt John the Baptist dunking ritual.  Rather a dainty, effeminate, rather elegant and fashionable ‘baptizing’.   I expect some new Christians are actually using bottled effervescent water for their baptism. Maybe a Pellegrino.
I actually think we could just get a firefighter air plane and fly over nations, focussing on cities and dribble a little water from the plane .  There'd be no need to explain to our our neighbour,.  We'd just be ‘baptizing’ them.  Our government bombs people sometimes indiscriminately so why not sprinkle water on them.  I could do a fly by over New York city or maybe Hollywood.  Discretely.  A modern sophisticated baptism.  Maybe bless the riot hoses that police use.  I wonder if that would be enough. I’d not personally like to be associated with the activity.  I’d rather it was done behind closed doors and certainly not where people could film me.The last thing I want to have is someone taking a picture of me being a Christian and seeing it on Facebook.  That's just too ridiculous.
I know that Muslims are killed if they leave their religions so the government wouldn’t want me to talk to them about Jesus because that would be ‘offensive’ and definitely not ‘politically correct’.  The Buddhists usually just smile and don’t listen when I talk about Jesus.  Hindus are more interested but they tend to laugh a lot.  I could go to South American and Africa and find some real pagans to baptise but the fact is Christians ‘attracted’ converts from all the great religions of the middle east, Africa and Europe.  I suspect they acted and behaved better than me.  They lived a Christian life. They prayed and “obeyed’ Jesus.  I don’t like that word ‘obey’.  I think it wouldn’t go over well today. If I could just change the Great Commission to suit me and the times I think it would “sell’ better.
That’s what I think
I feel , however, that’s not what the Great Commission is telling me.
So if I am to call myself a Christian I really ought to act more like a Christiian and come to terms with what a nut bar a Christian really is.  I’m going to have to accept that I will appear like one of those Evangelicals, and the atheists and muslims and Jews and Buddhists and Hindus will laugh at me sometimes because I do believe in Jesus.  I actually think of myself as a disciple or student of Jesus. Not any smarter than his first ones. Indeed I’m a whole lot further behind. Maybe a kindergarten Christian at best.  But still a Christian.
The Great Commission is most unfortunately Christian.  The part I like best though is the end, where Jesus says, “ And surely I am with you always to the end of the age”.  I need all the help I can get.

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