Jesus said what?

…after I preached this story over the weekend, someone from my congregation shared with me that they’ve actually heard preaching like this – in the name of Jesus – and recently.

This past weekend, I shared the story of when my very first youth group in Nashville found something called the “Jesus Videos 1-4.” They are old clips from one of the Jesus movies that a comedy troupe has dubbed over with audio not to poke fun at Christ himself, but rather at the ridiculous ways we portray him. They also take some great pot shots at the disciples never understanding anything (which is accurate) and have a lot of fun with how the church often takes itself far too seriously (well, I never… yeah, yeah, that’s true).

One of my favorite scenes happens when Jesus gets up to preach and he begins (in a voice that sounds like a nasal southern preacher off of South Park) saying, “I have done many miracles, performed many healings, and brought you all here to tell you this: you’re all evil. There’s no hope. That’s it.” [End scene.]

I remember crying the first time I saw these videos because I was laughing so hard. But after I preached this story over the weekend, someone from my congregation shared with me that they’ve actually heard preaching like this – in the name of Jesus – and recently.

I had shared the story thinking of Jonathan Edwards and angry evangelists from decades past. But sometimes we forget that such vitriol is still spread like excrement heightening the mortification and denigration of Christ’s followers on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Such hatred. Such venom. Such evil.

Those are NOT the words of Jesus my friends. There may have been moments where Jesus displayed honest humanity in some difficult situations, but never did such poison spew from his lips.

What Jesus did say was love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. I desire mercy. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. No one has greater love than to lay down their lives for another. The way they will know you are my followers is if you have love for one another. Love one another as I have loved you.

Jesus preached a love that was tangible. Electric. All-encompassing. Empowering. That filled the world with God’s peace and justice, which seek the flourishing and well-being of all God’s children. Any anger or derision was always aimed at those who caused harm to their fellow humans. He taught us that whatever we do to even those we consider the “least” of our fellow humans, we have done to him.

So, to everyone who has been hurt by such horrifying and diabolical preaching, please know that was never the gospel. Know that you are loved more than you can possibly imagine – just as you are. And I am sorry for all the pain my colleagues and brethren have caused you.

And to my siblings in Christ who know the Gospel of Christ within their hearts: keep being the Love that Christ taught us to be. In every way that you can. Use your voice. Use your hands. Use the kindness of your eyes. Use your heart. All the gifts God has given you. That is how the Kingdom shows up ever more in our midst.

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