I cannot read the Sermon on the Mount and not be shocked, confronted, frightened, and asking myself, "Does he really mean that? If he does, does he really expect me to follow him in that?"
Christ's kingdom is more topsy-turvy than Alice's Wonderland.
I do not understand a Messiah who comes not as a king but as a servant, a homeless man, and wanders about loving the outcast, the forgotten, the abandoned, the prostitute, the broken, the lonely, and those I would not invite to my home for a party.
No, no, I don't care for that Jesus. Like Will Ferrell in Taladega Nights, I prefer the baby Jesus. The sanitized one. The one who lets little kids sit in his lap. The one with sheep. Meek and mild. A Mister Rogers Jesus.
I don't want the one who starts off his most famous sermon with, "Blessed are the poor in spirit . . ."
Like the Jews at that time, that is not what I expect from a Messiah. Like them, too many of us are nationalistic and militaristic in our theology and political policy.
You are too dangerous in your teachings, Lord. It goes against conservative and liberal alike. It's like having surgery without being anesthetized. I feel the cut of those words of yours.
I don't want to be "poor in spirit" becasue that means I have to be reliant on him and I definitely don't want to be that if he is calling me to be a servant, to take up my cross, to do as he does and identify with the actual poor. I mean, they smell really bad, they are addicts, and will most likely rob me if I do. Is that really what you want Jesus?
Or to love refugees?
Who knows if they are really even refugees and not terrorists?
What instead of the parable of The Good Samaritan are you going to tell me about The Good Syrian Refugee? I don't want to identify with them.
Or that race of minorities that I'm not too fond of. I know all lives matter, but . . .
You can have them, Lord, I am much more comfortable in the company of the rich young ruler. I am far too satisfied with the money lenders in the temple.
Blessed are who?
Those who mourn? No thanks.
The meek? Really?
Those who seek righteousness? The merciful? The pure in heart? Pass.
The peacemakers? Too liberal for me.
The persecuted for righteousness' sake? Most definitely skipping that one.
And I am to believe that I am blessed when others revile, persecute, and falsely accuse me? Jesus, are you kidding me? This is what you are calling me to do to follow you? I'm surprised you can keep even 12 disciples with that line of thinking. You'll never have a megachurch preaching that kind of stuff.
No thanks, I would rather sit in the pews, bored and complacent than in recklessly, risking and following you, the unsettler of all my pious virtues that I hold dearly and cling to over you. I don't want to sell all and give it to the poor. They'll just waste that money on alcohol or cigarettes or drugs anyway. Isn't it enough that I do that shoebox at Christmastime for the poor kids in other countries?
You want me to love and pray for my enemies? Do not resist? Turn the other cheek? Wow. Not going to happen. Retaliate! Revenge! Eye for an eye. Didn't you see what they did?
I'm sorry, Jesus, but your ways are just too hard to get sometimes.
Don't you know how the world really works? I mean, that stuff may be okay in heaven where everything is peace and love, but we are talking about reality here, the real world.
Why make the gate so narrow?
You're not going to get a lot of "likes" on Facebook with this or retweets on Twitter.
"Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me" is a lousy PR slogan. No one will want a bumpersticker or a t-shirt with that on it.
Don't challenge. Don't confront. Don't ask me to choose.
Couldn't you be more tolerant?
Couldn't you just help me be a better me? You know: healthy, wealthy, and secure.
I don't care for what you're saying. It doesn't make me feel good. It makes me question. I don't want to do that. I like the status quo. Isn't it enough to just be a good guy?
But if I say yes, if I follow you . . .
What about my comfortable world?
What about the American dream?
Why won't you allow me my illusions, my excuses?
This is costly. This is unsettling. This is uncomfortable. And this is your kingdom?
Don't you see what this would do to me?
People will think I'm crazy.
My world will be turned upside down.
Is that really what you want?
"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."
- Eugene Peterson, The Message