Posted by Dr. Larry Taylor
Ever since a feeling of light and warmth flooded my room and a gentle voice from beyond called me “little one,” Jesus has been the center, the core, of my life. For me, there is no other source of life, truth, love, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, guidance, light, grace, mercy, peace, wellbeing, wholeness, energy, happiness, joy, connectedness, or wisdom. In Jesus, I live and move and have my being. Losing Jesus, if that is even possible, would mean annihilation, extinction, obliteration. It would be hell.
Awhile back, we bought a house that was fairly new, only to learn later that, generally speaking, modern day housing developments consist of tract-homes that have built in planned obsolescence. All the major appliances have an expected life of about 5 years; the heating and cooling systems, the roof, the siding, have life expectancies of around 10 years. So, if you own a home for any length of time, there is a process of deconstructing and reconstructing that seems never ending.
Around Jesus, without even being aware of it most of the time, I constructed a theological house. It was not entirely well planned.
Now, my theological house is under construction (again).
Not sure when or where this latest major remodel started.
At some point, it hit me that the Jesus I was preaching in Revelation was the exact opposite of the Jesus in the Gospels.
All the hyper-nationalistic patriotism dressed in Christian terminology was diametrically opposed to the Sermon on the Mount.
I heard racism, misogyny, and homophobia in sermons that reeked with pride and self-satisfaction.
The lack of concern for the environment, social justice, the marginalized and the poor struck me as unbiblical and antichrist.
White evangelical leaders were supporting politicians whose personal lives and policies conflicted sharply with godliness.
I began to question.
Where’s the Jesus of the Jesus Movement?
Where’s the Jesus of the New Testament?
Where’s the Jesus of the radical Anabaptists?
What would it look like if I radically followed the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, actually doing what He said to do?
Thanks to people like Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church, Minneapolis-St. Paul), Brian Zahnd (Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri),Bruxy Cavey (The Meeting House, a multisite Anabaptist congregation in Ontario), Donald Kraybill (author of The Upside Down Kingdom), and many others, I am leaning that I need not panic when it becomes obvious that my theological house needs some deconstruction and reconstruction.
It’s ok to question.
It’s ok to rethink.
It’s ok to undergo major reconstruction of your theology.
You won’t lose Jesus.
You need not, as some tragically do, throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
Just change the water. Just let God reconstruct the house.
Some of the areas the Holy Spirit is working on in my life include:
- Learning that I don’t have a flat Bible. All scriptures do not carry equal weight. The words of Jesus transcend everything else.
- Seeing that God is exactly like Jesus and that there is nothing unchristlike in God.
- Learning to examine every scripture text through a cruciform lens.
- Learning that God is not vengeful or angry.
- Coming to realize that salvation is not about getting a ticket to heaven, but instead about following the radical teachings of Jesus.
- Realizing that most American Christianity is civil religion that uses Christian terminology while worshipping Mars, Mammon, and Aphrodite.
- Coming to see that the eschatology I was taught is escapist, nationalistic, and unbiblical.
- Starting to realize that what Revelation is really about is following the Lamb of God in empire-resisting, self-sacrificial, nonviolent, radical, subversive love, even unto death if need be, because doing so leads to the new creation.
- Being committed to caring for the environment, helping the poor and homeless, and standing against racism, hatred, war, and intolerance.
- Determining to pledge allegiance to King Jesus and no other.
- Learning to, on a daily basis, be with Jesus learning from Jesus how to be like Jesus.
At times, it feels like my entire theological house is being razed. At times, it is scary and confusing. At times, I wonder if I will have any foundation left.
But, as all the beams are torn down and the brick work demolished, one thing remains unshakable – Jesus. In fact, with some of the junk cleared away, I see and know Him more clearly than ever before.
Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.
(Jeremiah 1:10 NLT)
About Dr. Larry TaylorRadical Anabaptist Jesus Freak Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, husband, father, grandfather
Posted on June 8, 2018, in Bible, bodily resurrection, Christianity, Prayer, Spirituality and tagged anabaptist, Bible, Bible study, charity, Christianity, comfort, end times, eschatology, evangelical, evil, faith, fellowship, forgiveness, God’s Word, good, grace, healing, hope, hospitality, Jesus, joy, kingdom of God, love, New Testament, Old Testament, peace, progressive, service, shalom, simple life, social justice, thoughtful, truth, USA. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.