America needs more than Jesus

In the wake of another mass shooting in the United States of America, some of us declare our country's need for Jesus. Yet, as this picture shows, Jesus is not enough.

Because people can be faithful born again church goers who are also racists or misogynists or rapists or murderers. Certainly Jesus can work on those issues in our hearts, but in the meantime, laws are useful in diminishing those abusive tendencies in all of us. In 1918 a law was proposed to oppose lynching. This law was passed because Jesus was not enough for the most Christian nation in the world. (A federal anti-lynching law has never been passed though.) The Supreme Court had to affirm the right of an inter-racial couple to be married contrary to state laws forbidding it, because Jesus was not enough. The Supreme Court told states that separate but equal was always separate but never equal and thus unconstitutional because Jesus' teaching on loving our neighbors and the least of these was not enough. The courts had to punish churches financially, and not just the Roman Catholic church, for covering up sexual abuse because Jesus was not enough. The courts have to overrule parental rights when they deprive their children of healthcare because Jesus is not enough to heal them. The Supreme Court told the states and the Congress that they cannot deprive gay citizens of the legal privileges of the marriage contract because Jesus was not enough. Some of Jesus' followers are publicly celebrating the slaughter of 50 "sodomites" as god's justice, because Jesus' teaching on loving their neighbors and blessing their enemies is not enough.  Some of Jesus' followers find Jesus' teaching on love is overruled by ancient rules from god about stoning homosexuals.

In my previous post I listed several examples of American christians doing awful things because it was not a problem in their current cultural milieu. Jesus was not enough for them to change their approach to their neighbors.

So what does America need? In addition to better laws, I think it needs love. Jimi Hendrix is not the first to express this idea, but he has summed it up pithily, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."

The love of power expresses itself in the manipulation of laws to privilege one group over another. The power of love forsakes privilege so all can have equal rights. The love of power expresses itself in protecting the predators and ignoring the assaulted to maintain the aura of righteousness. The power of love cares for victims at the expense of reputation. The love of power expresses itself in the declaration that everyone should buy firearms for personal protection. The power of love lays down arms and turns the other cheek and removes deadly accidents and opportunities from the reach of the immature, the deranged, and the clueless. The love of power esteems one religion over others. The power of love sees all as family, all as neighbors, all as fellow children of God who bear his image and all on a path back to their Lover. The love of power is paranoid because it suspects all of wickedness, especially those who are different. The power of love recognizes the spark of love in everyone and seeks to fan it into a burning flame. The love of power is doctrinaire and unmoved by appeals to compassion. The power of love always chooses mercy. The love of power votes for more power even if it's racist, misogynist, and hateful. The power of love votes on behalf of those who would suffer the most.

We cannot all agree on Jesus. But we can certainly all agree on love. There is a favored metaphor among revivalist preachers that the biggest obstacle between us and Jesus is only 12 inches between our skull and our hearts. As Jesus said, we will be known for our love (heart) not for our doctrine (skull).


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