They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Shove

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An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. (John 3:25)

Forget turning the other cheek.  Christians love to kick butt, especially each other’s holy heinies.  There’s nothing we like better than a drop-down, drag-out, smackdown about the nature of grace, forgiveness, or some other theological virtue.

Our forefathers were good at it.  (Our foremothers usually took it out on our forefathers in the privacy of their own homes, which is probably why our forefathers were so feisty in the first place.  But that’s a whole other story.)  Dressed in their clerical spandex they smashed each other with Bibles, crucifixes, stained glass, communion bread, and empty wine bottles.  They drowned each other, burned each other at the stake, hung each other, whipped each other, ripped each other limb from limb, poured hot metal down each other’s throats, and confiscated each other’s Starbucks cards.  They put each other on trial, excommunicated each other, locked each other up, and dissed each other on the talk show circuit.  About the only time there was a break in the ecclesiastical fisticuffs was when they took a short break to beat the crap out of the Muslims.

This is actually a welcome reinterpretation of the life of Jesus.  Face it, the Jesus of the Bible is such a wimp.  Oh sure, he kicks over a few tables before anybody can do anything about it.  (Go ahead—just try to mess with the book/CD tables in the church lobby these days and you’ll find yourself face-planted in the parking lot before you can say “My Father’s house.”)  But most of the time Jesus is pretty lame when it comes to the machismo department.  Sissy does not sell well.   Besides, look where it got him.  Ouch.

There’s this scene in the garden of Gethsemane where soldiers have come to arrest Jesus.  Now Peter pulls out a sword and whacks off the ear of one of the bad guys.  (Now we’re talkin’ baby.)  But does Jesus take the hint?  No.  Instead he tells Peter to cool it and then heals the guy’s ear!  What a crock.  But even worse, he tells Peter, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”  Well, why the heck didn’t he?  I can’t believe it!  Here is Jesus who can order up 60,000 steroid-pumped, lightning-hurling, pistol-packing celestial agents of freaking DOOM—and he passes on the opportunity?  Sheesh.  Talk about your Messiah complex.

Well, we all know that this kind of religious behavior doesn’t get us anything but trouble, so it’s a good thing we pretty much ignore all those embarrassing milk toast passages in the Bible.  Keep the John 3:16.  Give us an M-16 any day.

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