American Jesus

Are American Christians Anti-Christ?

American Jesus
American Jesus

I’d better start by explaining what I mean by “Anti-Christ.” I don’t mean some scary or seductive spiritual being. I mean it literally: anti (against)the teachings of Jesus Christ. With that out of the way, let me begin.

In 1972, a Hindu guru, Neem Karoli Baba, told his Western followers to go read the Bible over Easter weekend. I did as he suggested and read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John out on the dirt porch in front of the woodcutter’s hut in the lower Himalayas I was renting. My view out over the foothills faced directly towards the sunset. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived.

As I read, some passages seemed to be written in gold, while others were just in black and white. An unforgettable passage that was written in gold went like this:

Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

At the Last Supper, Jesus said something that turned a lot of his followers off. “Take, eat, this is my body,” he said as he broke bread. This was written in gold, too, but I didn’t get the meaning until just before sunset on Easter, when it hit me like a thunderbolt. The body of Christ is in everything and the body of Christ is love. Far from converting me to Christianity, it made the idolatry of conventional Christianity glaringly obvious. I’ve been a fan ever since, but have never called myself a Christian and don’t worship Jesus the man.

It’s almost embarrassing to admit to being a fan of Jesus. My Jesus doesn’t resemble the gun-toting Jesus the most vocal American Christians follow. According to them, in spite of his saying, “Love your enemies,” he smiles on making enemies and killing them.

I wonder if any of them have even read the Beatitudes.If they have, how can they justify turning them upside down? In case you need a reminder, the Beatitudes go like this:

  • Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Go through them one at a time and it’s obvious the loudest American Christian voices preach the opposite. They love wealth, loathe weakness, believe in strength, don’t give righteousness a second thought, show no mercy, make war and persecute others.

This isn’t meant to be a blanket condemnation of Christians. One of the best criticisms of that hideous movie¬†American Sniper I’ve read was by a Christian. He likened the worship of Chris Kyle to idolatry and went on to quote one of the passages in the Bible that’s written in gold: “Put away your sword! Those who use the sword will die by the sword.”

Unfortunately, though, the loudest voices make the biggest impact and the loudest voices in American Christianity today seem so full of hate and fear, it’s hard to see them as anything but “anti” Christ.