Born Again This Way: Cruciformed

I write a blog that few people read with a message most people don’t want to hear.  I don’t white-wash it, sugar coat it, and I ain’t overly nice about it either.  I’m offensive.  I embrace being offensive.  Not because I want to keep you at arm’s length or run you off, not because I want to get in a good lick in the fight.  None of that.

No.  I want to be REAL with you.  And whenever you get to where you can actually HANDLE THE TRUTH, you will see what I mean, and we will get along fine!

You see, I am offensive because I was Born Again This Way.

What WAY was I born again?

Well, if you follow me to the white, middle-class, Protestant, American, Evangelical church I am most likely to attend and look and listen very carefully, you would be pardoned for thinking the way I was born again was to have a life of privilege buttressed by conservative politics and the salvation I find there, conservative financial stewardship and the salvation that offers, occasional blanketly judgmental speech all manifest in my owning at least one fine home, at least two fine cars, several of the latest electronic gadgets all with my sins kept private and unexposed.  I get to live this way here on earth (or at least strive for it), a life of “faith” in Jesus made possible by American might and superiority (thank you vets) all with the hope that when I safely die I get to “go to heaven” where I will enjoy eternal bliss.  Ideally, there won’t hardly be a speed bump between this life and the next.  Now, if I can just get those stupid liberals and all the minorities they brainwash with their lies to wake up and support this, then Jesus’s Kingdom will finally Come (or they can burn in Hell – either way is okay, actually).

There is precious little or no challenge to any of this where I go to church.  Even our charity and care for the poor is carefully constructed to insulate this privileged mindset and life I enjoy.  I volunteer four times a year to help feed the homeless.  I took the Premier Homeless Pseudo Church 101 class where professional social workers (the kind who love Jesus) taught me not to give my name and number to the homeless, not to be manipulated by them, and rather than giving food, clothing, and especially money directly to the poor, rather to give these things to them – the professionals – who know how to manage the poor and really help them without being manipulated into “enabling” them.  It just keeps everything more honest and simple, and with a million dollar budget, THEY can really do the Lord’s work!  It’s actually best if I not even shake the hand of those suffering from homelessness (we try not to belittle THEM by calling THEM “homeless” or “bums” or even “those people” because that can be so damaging).

My kids join a “service project” in Mexico or LA once a year where they build a house for the homeless and get sweaty one day, but spend the next three days on the beach, at the theme park, and visit the local mall where they hopefully don’t overspend my credit card.  But our church has built the youth group a gymnasium with a private coffee bar which makes Starbucks look like they don’t know how to market coffee, where the kids have a theater for movies and parties year round, and to top it all off they get the annual ski trip in the winter and summer camp in the mountains every summer.  God bless ’em, I want my kids to have all the very best Jesus has to offer.

This is the way I was born again, it seems, if you follow me to church.  This is the way my children are born again too, and hopefully we are ensuring this bliss for generations to come.  We are born again this way.

However, most of my spiritual ancestors from Bible times, the first, second, and third centuries, were all born again and arrested, thrown in dungeons, flogged, stoned (with rocks), crucified, thrown to lions, and burned at the stake.  They were born again THAT WAY.  Every last one of them was born again only to die, or risk death for having been born again THAT WAY.  (Too bad they didn’t live in God-blessed America!)

There is very little in common, aside from lip service, between my spiritual ancestors and myself.  They gave up their lives to belong to Jesus; I give up Jesus at the mere glance at a naughty picture.  They sold all their property and church leaders divided it up so that none of the poor lived in any need; I write a check and make the problem go away.  They were noted for their sexual purity, even though they too struggled with it, and sometimes failed miserably.  I try harder not to be a legalist than being true to my wife.  My ancestors gave up their rights (which they were never granted by Rome or anyone else anyway), and I claim my American “rights” are “God-given” and complain if there is even the slightest hint that some liberal agenda might make it so I don’t get to enjoy them.

On Jesus’s birthday, the astrologers brought him gifts fit for a king.  I, on his birthday, get something for myself while shopping for my wife and kids.  (What DO you get for the person that has EVERYTHING?  That is hard to do!)

Lady Gaga tells me I was born THIS WAY, and I think Jesus died so I could be born again this way too, but my spiritual ancestors were born again cruciformed, and I have no idea what that means.  I grasp for the red pill and swallow the blue one, and as no one notices, I can pretend I stand for something.  Jesus did not grasp at deity, but humbled himself to the point of death on a cross.  I refuse to humble myself, but I grasp at greatness every chance I get, and I promote our church that way too!  I have a thousand dollars to the new stained glass fund!

As you can see, there is no confusion here.  If my faith causes you offense, so be it.  We have this all figured out.  Come to church where I go, listen to Pastor Bates explain it.  He says it all better than I do.

Cruciform.  I was born again this way.

 

15 comments

  1. insanitybytes22 · December 14

    This was awesome. Well said. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: “Born Again This Way…” | See, there's this thing called biology...
  3. Pastor Randy · December 15

    Reblogged this on Kingdom Pastor and commented:
    Do you try to form the cross to exclude your preferences…or are you willing to allow the Cross to transform you? Remember, Crosses aren’t easy to navigate–but necessary to follow Jesus!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nina · December 15

    Reblogged this on For Such A Time As This.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. laceduplutheran · December 15

    This is one of the most beautiful and honest posts I have read from anyone online. You hit it all so clearly. Thank you. I have been struggling with these same thoughts for some time. It saddens me when people in the church are opposed to being uncomfortable, will attack if their privilege is even hinted at. Privilege is an evil of our time. It’s the theology of empire in our midst. And it will fail and fall, just like Rome did. Just like all empires fall. God is preparing our hearts and minds in this time, I believe. Preparing us for what is to come. Preparing us for cruciform faith.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Beverly · December 15

    Some heavy thinking here.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Agent X · December 15

    This feedback sent in via email by Anita M:

    Good one X! And sadly, all very true! We, in this modern day world have no idea what it truly means to be a follower of Christ…to give up everything for Him and our fellow Believers…to be willing to die rather than recant our Faith.

    A good reminder to us all that claim to KNOW HIM! I have in the past questioned myself and wondered if it really came down to the end, and I was asked to recant my Faith in God…or die…what would my answer be? I hope I would be willing to go down in flames rather than deny my Savior…but, WOULD I?

    I’m really glad that you posted this! It made me take another look at myself and ask that question again. It has strengthened my resolve to stay true to my Faith, and remember the verse in James 1:27 that says: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being.polluted by the world.

    We, as Believers are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are to give our all to those in need just as God the Father gave His ONLY SON for us all!

    Great time of year to be reminded of this! Instead of going on a shopping spree for ourselves and others, we should pool our money and take food, blankets, along with the glorious Gospel of Christ to the streets. Time to share the Hope that only Jesus can give!

    Thanks again X…and MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!

    Like

  8. seekingdivineperspective · December 15

    Well said! I never enjoyed an essay so toroughly that made me cringe so much. I guess this is filed under “If the shoe fits, kick yourself with it.”
    Our pastor said in his sermon last week that he believes the “prosperity gospel” is one of the biggest enemies of the true gospel, and I’d have to agree. A pastor I know in India is deeply concerned because of the many aspiring pastors there who don’t have the means to go to a Bible school (or there are none to go to), and the only “Biblical training” they get is what they see on American television. God help them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. calhouns2013 · December 16

    I found your post through https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed read it. I firmly believe the church needs to be jolted in this way to get us to see obvious contrast between our church and the biblical church. Thanks. I’ll be sharing this within my sphere.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Born Again This Way: Cruciformed – The Point of Reflection
  11. Roland Ledoux · December 17

    Like speaking the TRUTH much Brother?! RHETORICAL question and you know it! This is why I like reading your posts, I love the TRUTH and to have to THINK for a change! I’ve been told I can be harsh and unloving because I love the truth and I love those I try to serve (I’m more concerned with people’s eternity than their feelings, go figure) so I feel like I have washed in a nice spring flowing with Living Water!

    It’s amazing that for some reason the Word of God backs up what your saying!!

    “But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” – Acts 4:19.

    “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29.

    God bless, my Brother and Joyous and Blessed Christmas Season to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: God is Not a PEZ Dispenser! | SGM
  13. patrickhawthorne01 · December 17

    Good word…I tagged you on my site… https://servinggrace.com/2019/12/17/god-is-not-a-pez-dispenser/

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Madeleine Naleski · January 8

    X, you say it well. Remember to live en via Christum. I really appreciate someone as honest as you, and I know Jesus appreciates the help. God Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. T. F. Thompson · February 22

    Reblogged this on Hard Times Ministries and commented:
    After before he was (the process of being born again)

    Liked by 1 person

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