Who’s Your Jesus?

Proper 16C
Pentecost 13
26 August 2007

Welcome, America, to “Who’s Your Jesus?” Trinity Television Network’s hottest game show. I’m Lou Siffer, and today, as we do every Sunday morning, you get to choose your own personal Savior, the one who best fits into your politics, denomination, class, race, gender, and sexual orientation. At the conclusion of today’s program, one of our contestants will receive a ceramic Holy Spirit Dove, which he will keep until next Sunday’s Gospel reading. After a word from our sponsor, Daily Gold International, we will meet this week’s contestants.

Hello, my name is Grace Chipley, and I’m the CEO of Daily Gold International, the only organization devoted to helping you name and claim the wealth that God has promised to all faithful believers. Call our 24-karat Blessings line and find out how you can claim the prize of earthly glory now, and a first-row seat at the rapture. Operators are standing by.

Thanks, Grace, and welcome back, America, to “Who’s Your Jesus?” It’s time to meet this week’s Jesus line-up. First, from Judea, it’s Jesus the Revolutionary. Jesus the Revolutionary, what’s your Gospel?

Thanks, Lou, it’s always a pleasure to be with you. And thanks to all of you determined revolutionaries who keep your AK47’s locked and loaded right there on your bedside altars. It’s important to remember that God loves the poor more than he loves you, and that’s why you have to fight to overthrow the government. Yes, that means people will die, but since they will die to create a just and equitable world, God will bless those deaths. In fact, I have any number of religious leaders ready to splash holy water on your bayonets.

Don’t forget that the Bible says God wants to end political oppression. That my followers must rise up to see that the leaders of the nations are hanged from bridges, after being suitably tortured. Then Christians will be in charge and can arrest anyone who disagrees with them. Christians of the world, unite and choose me as your personal Savior!

Thanks, Jesus the Revolutionary. Just a note from our legal team here at Trinity Television: Trinity Television fully supports the Geneva Convention and does not advocate torture, abuse or hanging of suspects during the revolution. We cannot, however, be responsible for what Jesus’ followers do.

Next up, from the little town of Bethlehem, Jesus the Civic Club Guy. Jesus the Civic Club Guy, what’s your Gospel?

Thanks, Lou. It’s great to be back on this fantastic show. I want to remind the audience that God is nice and he loves all the little children: red, yellow, black and white. God never gets angry with us, now matter what we do to each other, the world or the church. It’s really important for you to be nice, since you’ll know my disciples by their niceness. God wants you to be happy, too, and that’s why he wants you to accept me as your personal Savior. If you do, you’ll live in a nice house, in a gated community with a deep water port and a nice green golf course.

I do want to remind you (nicely) that there’s one thing that does make God angry. Well, not angry exactly, more a little teary-eyed, with a trembling lower lip. That’s when people vote Democrat. Democrats are the devil’s Prius-driving demons, killing unborn babies, marrying gay people, molesting children and whining about endangered species. They also want to raise your taxes, which is the other thing that makes God teary-eyed.

So be nice, and accept me as your personal Savior.

Thanks, Jesus the Civic Club Guy. My goodness, that sounds like a really nice kingdom you are bringing. Next, from Jerusalem’s most prestigious university, it’s Jesus the Scholar. Jesus the Scholar, what’s your Gospel?

Hello, Lou. It’s great to be back on this program. Or it would be if I believed that this program really existed, which everyone with a lick of sense knows it doesn’t. Christianity has been hijacked by people who believe that I said all those silly things that Matthew, Mark, Luke and that other guy said I said. That’s why I’ve assembled the world’s greatest collection of theologians to reconstruct out of thin air what I really said. It’s my covenant to help you avoid the whole tedious business of having to read the Gospels for yourself, struggle to grasp their meaning from across the centuries, and pray to some God you won’t like very much any way.

I will also help you vote Democrat, since Republicans are, with the possible exception of Rudy Giuliani, a bunch of SUV-driving, troglodyte literalists who couldn’t tell a systematic theology from a Schubert sonata on a bet. They want to install a theocratic state, run by Christian ayatollahs, shut down public education, poison the air and water, privatize Social Security, put a Wal-Mart in every church and invade Norway.

Thank you, Jesus the Scholar, wow, you really tell it like it is! Our final contestant is from Nazareth, and holds the dubious distinction of being the only Jesus to never win the vote on “Who’s Your Jesus?” Jesus of Nazareth, what’s the deal? Are you coming back this week like you did last week to tell us that following you is hard? Jesus, are only a few people going to be saved?

The question is, not how many will be saved, Lou, but are you going to be saved? Choosing to follow me is a struggle, an agonizing struggle, like squeezing through a tiny little doorway. In fact, the only way you can do it is to leave behind all the religious and cultural nonsense that these other wanna-be Messiahs come along selling.

In spite of the fact that anyone can be saved by grace, some people just prefer to stay on the outside. They want to make Christianity into some kind of test about what you believe the Bible says, and how you vote, and whether or not you’re the right kind of person. They stay on the outside, missing the great feast of heaven inside. Or, they come knocking on heaven’s door, and hoping that God’s going to come out and play their game. The truth is, God’s going to tell them, “I have no idea who you are, go do your own thing.”

Of course, that will upset them and they’ll tell God about how they have these great and beautiful churches where all the people pray and doesn’t God remember when He used to come down and do a little miracle or two. That’s going to lead to some great regrets, especially when they peak through the windows and see just who it is that God has brought into his party. Because inside, are people from all over the world, from every religion, every political party, every nation, every tribe and every tongue. Inside, in the city of the living God, are angels too numerous to count, 2the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, God the judge of all, the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and me, the mediator of the new covenant.

I tell you, folks, the religious structures that you’ve created are going be to hit with an earthquake, so that only what God has created will be left. It’s not enough to just talk about justice like the revolutionary, you have to do justice. It’s not enough to be nice like the Civic Club guy, you have to love your enemies. All your intellectual wrangling over meaning, myth and mystery, all your scoffing at the sheer simplicity of faith, is rather like trying to squeeze into a bed that’s too small for you. The human soul with nothing to believe in tosses and turns in sleepless, restless agony.

It’s why I keep telling you that God is holy and that listening to his voice is a fearful thing. It’s why wandering in here each week unprepared is like getting too close to wildfire. Because that’s what God is: a wildfire that burns through your every human thought, hope and desire. Once it’s all burned away, you will find yourself inside the door, inside the party, inside the covenant, sipping wine with Abraham and the prophets. But as long as you insist on doing it your own way, on making up your own God, your own Gospel and your own Jesus, you’ll be stuck where you are, hanging around outside, just grinding your teeth.

Now, Jesus of Nazareth, that’s the same line you come here with week after week. “God loves us, but God is holy. God is not impressed with religion. God is on some kind of strange and alien quest to upset everything we’ve worked so hard to create.” No wonder you keep losing every week. Nobody wants that kind of Gospel. In fact, it would be sheer terror to have to live that kind of Gospel. I don’t know about our other contestants or our audience today, but I would be the last in line for your strange and alien Gospel.

Somehow, Lou, I figured that would be the case. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.

Well that’s it, folks. You’ve heard from our contestants and you’ve heard the Gospel today. It’s time to vote. America, who’s your Jesus?


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