Hookah smoke is filling my living room. Everything smells like watermelon, and pickles. My friend and I have been smoking and eating my fermented foods for almost two hours as we discuss theology after theology, not in a…theological way, but just…because we benefit off of ourselves. Judas Iscariot meanders his way into the weaving water of our conversation, and for a second, looked as though he made a wrong turn. He glances at us awkwardly, eyes darting away, taking a quick step to the left to escape. Ah! But we don’t let him.
Judas is often a contention among Christians. People debate his merit, whether he was ever a follower of Jesus, whether he was and then fell away, or even whether he never stopped, but just was misled. I happen to believe the latter.
Judas is a complicated character, woeful, discontent, angry, even jealous. But…I don’t care about any of that. Judas made one big mistake, and it gave him nothing in return but guilt, so painful, he felt no option but to kill himself.
The American church is like Judas. Started out the way he did. Jesus came, called them out, the American church began to follow suit. But somewhere along the line something happened. Bad doctrine? Bad people? Who knows. But when money got involved, Jesus got less involved. Judas was the keeper of the coin for Jesus’ crew. Every church ought to have some money accountability, and there is nothing wrong with that. But Judas began to steal some here and there, lying about where it was etc. Sound familiar?
The American church is often seen as some kind of money grubbing, ponzi scheme. Where people give their money, and nothing gets paid forward, in terms of poverty work, missions work etc. Now there are churches that do well, but the image that is seen by the world is not good.
Eventually in this history, the American church decided that Jesus wasn’t good enough for them. They sold him for shinies. They needed bigger buildings, shiny crosses, oak pews, gold communion cups, massive steeples, and…church bells? (wtf?) Judas also decided to sell Jesus out for money. A lot of money. The church forgot that the Jesus is more important, than money. In fact, they seem to have forgotten about him altogether, and always remembering the money; collecting it in gold plates with velvet bases.
Eventually, Judas saw the error in his ways. Spitting at the Pharisees and throwing his money at them in desperate attempts at getting Jesus back unharmed. Painfully saddened by his terrible decision Judas became so depressed, and angry at his own sinfulness he murdered himself.
Is this what must happen to the “American” church? Are we too far gone as Christians to do anything about it? Or can we salvage what is left of Jesus in our shiny white buildings, full of suits and ties, (and maybe burn all those buildings, and suits, and ties…) and bring him back, recollect what Jesus taught us.
Should we save money to share within the church? Absolutely, people are in need and it is become a part of our mission as Christians, as taught by Jesus. However, when money, and budgets, and numbers, and fundraisers, are all that are heard of within your crispy, white walls, you may want to consider what is really going on. Are there some Pharisees hanging around smiling, willingly throwing silver at you, thanking you for your generous donation of Jesus? Or is Jesus hanging around, smiling, willingly giving you all that you need, for your generous donation of time, money, and faith.
I don’t know everything…but hey whatever.
Peace and Resist.