I have already distinguished that there is following Jesus or Christ and following Churchianity (see previous blog post on this). The two should not be confused. There is a difference between following Jesus and professing to do so, yet practicing Churchianity. To follow Jesus means to follow the life example and teachings of Jesus (as best as one can seeing that the setting and cultural differences today make it impossible to follow Jesus literally or completely). Then there is following Churchianity, which means to accept and follow the teachings of a particular church organization or denomination. The two sometimes are at great odds and one has to have good judgment to discern this.
Back in his day, Jesus was a devout and deeply spiritual individual interested in the social and political reform of the Jewish religion. His mission was to make the religious institution more just, inclusive and responsive to the human heart and condition. In the account of Luke, on his return to his hometown synagogue, Jesus claimed a portion of prophecy as outlining his mission statement. According to the passage in Luke 4:18 in the New International Version (NIV), Jesus declared:
Hence, his actions of ministering to adulterers, the sick, the prostitutes, tax collectors and those who were either excommunicated or outcasts from the religious and political society. Jesus wanted to bring back all these persons back into the community of God's people and back into a relationship with God.
Secondly, Jesus also wanted to increase faith in God, at the same time while lifting up mercy and justice. He not only wanted people to treat others better, but also wanted people to believe in, love and trust God more. This meant that sometimes Jesus had to side with the right-wing conservative Pharisees in rebuking the left-wing Sadducees for attempting to decrease people's faith in an after-life. this is recorded in the account of Matthew 22:23-46, where Jesus had to point out that the Sadducees had errors in their interpretation of the Scripture as well as a lack of understanding about God.
Considering these things, if you are a professed follower of Jesus, you must ask yourself the questions:
- Am I concerned about injustice and the treatment of people in society?
- Do I want society to be more just?
- Do I want people to love God more and have a better understanding of God and his nature and love?