Sunday, July 24, 2016
A Memo From Jesus to the USA
If Jesus Wrote A Letter To America, I Wonder What He'd Say?
By Rev. Paul J. Bern
If Jesus wrote a letter to America, and particularly its leadership (I'm using 'leadership' in the loosest possible terms), I wonder what would He say to us? Would He give America two thumbs up for being the richest country in the world, or for having the most powerful military? Would He congratulate us for a job well done when it comes to race relations in our country? Would He praise America's business community for its shrewdness and cunning for shipping all our middle class jobs overseas, leaving its constituency destitute, or in some cases homeless? Or, how about the fact that 1 in 4 US school children goes to bed hungry each night? Would we receive accolades galore? On the contrary – it would go something like this: Woe to you American Christians! You say I'm the "Son of God" and yet you bully the defenseless, shoot unarmed civilians, wage religious wars disguised as anti-terror campaigns, and trample the vulnerable underfoot in my name. Do you not understand the parable of the Good Samaritan? Allow me to refresh your memory.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?" The man answered, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!" The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus then replied with what I'll call a modernized version of the parable of the good Samaritan:
"A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Washington to New York when he was attacked by carjackers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road after driving off in his car. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A rich man walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then an African-American came along, one who had just been released from prison, and when he saw the man he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the ex-con soothed his wounds with hydrogen peroxide and bandaged them. Then he used his transit card and took him by bus to the homeless shelter where he was staying, where he took care of him. The next day he paid for a single night, telling the folks running the shelter, 'Here is the money for a night's stay here. I'm going to work as a day laborer early tomorrow morning, so please take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I'll pay you the next time I'm here.' “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by thugs?" Jesus asked. The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same."
In case you missed the point of that parable as I'm quoted as telling it in the Book of Luke (see chapter 10, verses 25-37), it was that the theologically correct evangelical born-again "saved" person passed by on the other side of the road when confronted with a human being in need. Ditto for the priest. It was the "unsaved" theologically incorrect Samaritan, today's equivalent of agnostics, Muslims, gay men and women, minorities and people of color, the unloved and the outcast who stopped and did my Father's will and took care of the injured man. To put it another way as only Jesus could have: “Did you miss the point when I said that those who come to me saying 'Lord, Lord we followed you and believed correctly' are the very ones that I will cast out of the Kingdom of Heaven, since they did not care for the least of these, the downtrodden, the poor and the oppressed? Didn't you get it when I said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the humble, and the outcasts; those who mourn and to the poor in spirit? Who do you think will inherit the earth: the wealthy leaders of your colossal mega-churches, or the downtrodden gay people, minorities and people of color, peace activists, “occupiers”, foster kids, ex-cons, the mentally ill, and others who are scorned and mocked by society? Whose side do you think God is on: the bullied and outcast or the powerful religious leaders with their false smiles? Who will qualify for calling themselves my sons and daughters: The meek who mourn or the proud who say: 'Lord, I thank you that I'm not like these gay men and women and these illegal immigrants, and these lazy poor people who deserve no health care and these Muslims?' You hypocrites! Don't you get it?”
“You say you take everything in the Bible seriously and yet you ignore all the many verses about loving each other, divorce and adultery, and somehow paper that over because a majority of America buys into divorce now and you don't want to lose your congregations! And half your pastors and religious leaders are divorced and remarried. But you stick it to gays and minorities because they are easy to pick on! Why wax moralistic about one thing you call sin and yet stick it to a minority? For instance, I actually broke the biblical law when I said that the people who brought me the adulterous woman should not stone her to death. In other words I said: 'forget what the Bible says, only kill her if you're perfect.' Well, no one was such, so they quit picking on her and left her alone. Then I did the most important part – I forgave her and told her to sin no more. Since then I've given my followers that very thing as a reason to ignore the harsh, and sometimes mistranslated, parts of the Bible. Didn't you get it when I said that if you lust in your heart towards a married woman or man that it's the same as committing adultery? You twisted my words to make it seem as if I'm a moralistic "church goer" like you idiots, but I intended the exact opposite! What I meant was that since everyone lusts anyway, the difference between how we think and feel regarding temptation and what we do is painfully obvious in terms of how God sees us. The whole point was that we're not to judge other people because we ourselves think the same thoughts. So no one is better than anyone else. Remember what I said in my sermon on the mount? “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7, verses 1-2, NIV)
You judgmental holy rollers are like banks always making a mistake in their own favor! Why do so-called religious conservative Americans always pick on the little guy, the disenfranchised, blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, women or gay people? I'll tell you why! Because you are bullies! You are the Pharisees passing by on the other side of the road, those who are so sure they're saved because of some nonsense that they believe in my name. Wrong! You American Christians utterly deface the name of Christianity with your racism, your economic slavery and your discrimination against women! And now you're doing it again in your war against gays and Muslims, your bogus, hypocritical drug war, and in your economic war against the poor and working class people. Some of you even have had it as part of your wicked program to reestablish the Biblical law demanding death to gay people that I clearly showed must be broken by the greater law of love. Well, as you judge so you will be judged. Good luck with that!
Do you think the Kingdom of God is more likely to belong to a wealthy "Christian" leader who preaches hate and exclusion (even when saying "hate the sin but love the sinner") or to the least of these, the poor and disenfranchised who want nothing more than to enjoy the same rights of other citizens? Do you think God does not see that the poor have no care and die because your greedy (lying) insurance lobby has your so- called Congress in their pockets? You hypocrites and liars! You say you're preaching my gospel when my Gospel never was about correct belief or correct behavior. My gospel was about loving God, not judging others, making room for everyone at the table, and loving your neighbor as you love yourself. If gays and minorities are your enemy then, as you know, I commanded you to love them! And if they are asking to be allowed to marry I commanded you to give to him who asks of you! Besides, you don't own America. This is a democracy and yours is just one opinion. How did it come to this?
How do those who claim that they serve and represent me misuse the Bible to the extent that they make bumper stickers and coffee mugs calling for the death of the President by misquoting Psalm 109 verse 8? (By the way, in case you want to know, he's doing his best to follow the law of love right now, even though it's almost impossible to do that because the fool who ruled before him – talk about a burning Bush! – left the biggest mess since the fall of Roman Empire!) Do you think I am on the side of a those who want to make the First Lady of the United States (who happens to be a daughter of mine!) a widow and the daughters of the President orphans as this Psalm is misconstrued to "call for”? You American Christians utterly deface the name of Christianity with your racism, economic slavery and your bigotry against women and minorities. And now you're doing it again in your war against gays and minorities, your “drug war” which is little more than open warfare against your own citizens, and in your economic war against the poor, the homeless, the elderly and particularly your children. You are like the Pharisees I used to know and who strained out the smallest gnat of others' so-called misbehavior while turning a blind eye to their own wickedness, hypocrisy and lies! Remember what I said about taking the beam out of your own eye before removing the speck from your brother's?
Quit worrying about gays and minorities and start worrying about your so-called churches, those ash heaps of stinking bigotry and hate. The way you hate your first black president is all I need to know about you. So is the fact that your courts dish out life sentences to people who trade in the marijuana plant my Father created! So stop worrying about other people's "sins" and start worrying about all the lies you are telling your children in my name! And all your talk about patriotism will do you no good unless you love every American as you love yourself – including gay Americans, poor people, the mentally ill, the disenfranchised and yes, women who have abortions and the “illegal” immigrants. And who do you think you are criminalizing my Father's creations in the first place? They ask mercy of you! Give to them! Or did you miss that part of my teaching too?
Do you really think I'm on the side of those who hate others? Have you forgotten what my Apostle John wrote? “If anyone says, 'I love God', and yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1st John 4,:20, NIV) It's as if you are crucifying me again! The point is to have a chance to sanctify love in every generation – unconditionally! If I walked here on Earth again with you, you'd kill me again, just as you are going to kill all that is good in my name, just as some of you are praying for the death of your president who you even call "Anti-Christ." Let me tell you who is Anti-Christ: Christian "saved" America, meaning those who are too busy taking care of themselves to have time for anyone else (see Revelation chapter 18). You are so religious on Sunday mornings, and yet you all turn into selfish, demonic pigs during the week. So depart from me, come up with a new name for whatever you are, and drop the word "Christ" out of your name. You've destroyed my reputation!