It’s Good Friday, the day when a couple billion Christians reflect on the death and resurrection of that enigmatic Galilean, Jesus. But of all the reflections, few will be about why Jesus may not have joined today’s Church. You see, today’s Church is a million light years away from how this whole thing started.
* In ancient Jerusalem, Christianity was a tight little COMRADESHIP among a few inspired Jews who came to believe this man was their long awaited Messiah. At first only 12…gradually hundreds….soon thousands. Eloquent believers like Paul were soon hitting the roads to Ephesus, Corinth, Athens and Rome itself in order to preach the words of their resurrected leader.
* By the time the words reached Greece they gradually evolved from a tight comradeship into a more formal PHILOSOPHY. That’s what the ancient Greeks were good at, shaping vague ideas into firm philosophical constructs.
* By the time the words reached Rome they slowly and painfully became an INSTITUTION. Especially after the emperor Constantine so dictated at the Council he ordered in the 4fth C. No more scattered letters and gospels from different thinkers, now he ordered the bishops to decide what was authenitic and what was not. The result was the Nicene Creed that Christians follow to this very day.
* By the time the creed spread throughout Europe it had evolved into an entire CULTURE. With the pope as God’s representative on earth, the Church was now a living breathing facet of everyday life and work and marriage and government .
* By the time the words spread across the Atlantic in the 16th-17th C they now became what so many successes do in America — an ENTERPRISE. A dynamic of doctrines which quickly took on the appearance of one more Yankee venture that needed to be sold as the best product on the market.
Here’s the point. Christianity has come a long long way from that first humble Good Friday. Replete with big ideas, big budgets, big dreams, big horizons two billion strong. Would there be room here for a scruffy, bearded, unemployed hippie in sandals and visions…? I don’t think so. And I don’t think Jesus would have thought so too. It’s not exactly what he seems to have had in mind.
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