Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Palm Sunday: Poll-Driven Christianity

From first glance, you might get the impression that this article is about the evils of seeker-sensitive church services, or you may get the idea that this is about christianity that seeks to fit into the worldly culture by compromising. Well, this is not the case.

I don't have any particular problem with seeker-sensitive churches or practices per se. I don't even have a problem with music or forms of religion that seem worldly. But there is a problem of worldliness within individual christians like me.

You see, using the things of this world is quite different than lusting after the things of this world -- as if the things of this world will fulfill us and make us whole. A musical beat or chord of sound is neither good nor bad. But attributing magical power to these things, or using it to preach a false message is bad. The battle against worldliness is not about the forms, but the evil desires from within that seek satisfaction outside of God.

Palm Sunday should serve as an example to us. This is the day where Christians commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem just before his death. (Matthew 21:1-16) At that time Jesus rides into Jerusalem riding on a donkey in fulfillment of Scripture. (Zechariah 9:9)

The people cut branches (traditionally palm branches) and placed them on the ground for him to tred on. This was done in honor of Jesus. The people are shouting "HOSANNA! To the Son of David!" and so forth, in anticipation that he was the king who was prophesied about; the coming Messiah they had hoped for.

But the people eventually became less enthusiastic. They could not decide whether they believed the religious leaders or this Jesus. (Is he really the Messiah they were waiting for?) If polls were taken in those days like today, we might report that his popularity was beginning to slip percentage-wise. Eventually, the crowds turned against him, and demanded is public execution on a Roman cross. Judas betrayed him. Peter denied that he even knew him. All of his disciples fled from him.

And the reason this happened is not all that complicated. Jesus was not popular with the right people. You know what I mean. For many of us, we live this tightrope everyday. If we are in high school, being on the wrong side of the "Alpha" girls, the cool, or the popular is socially disasterous. In college as a student, it may be a fraternity or sorority, or a popular viewpoint. Or as a professor, their peers or popular culture. In the work world, it may be a boss, a particular group of co-workers, or the organizational mindset. In families, it may be our parents or our family's religious affiliation. In society it may be a racial or political group. It doesn't matter what group of people we are afraid to displease, our well-being can be severly affected by the approval of that group.

Considering how we deal with Jesus, our motives are generally the same when we deny him in word or deed. We are afraid of people. We are afraid of what others might think of us. We believe that other people hold the key to our happiness and fulfillment. We are essentially cowards.

So what is the solution? Admit it. Then gaze upon the cross where Jesus is hung with nails. Notice the empty tomb. Rejoice that he made a way. Pledge your alligence to Jesus as God and Savior. And never let go of him to the very end. (Galatians 2:11-21)

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff! Thanks.
    Great name too
    Sign me,

    The other Kerry