“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer [b]Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  – Matthew 25: 31-46

I follow commentary within and without spiritual communities in an attempt to understand people better. I have noticed that it has become almost fashionable to take pot-shots at Jesus. My perceptions are that this trend originates from several sub-trends: the expansion of Pharisaical “Christian” groups, lack of knowledge of his teachings, and an overriding desire to fit in with the general population and not be rejected.

It’s not cool to love Jesus and it certainly isn’t cool to be Christian. I am a lifelong spiritual seeker and cradle evangelical (reformed) raised in a ministry family. I have dug my teeth into many spiritual traditions and texts to understand both people and the spiritual dimension in which we live. After all of my study and practice, I unashamedly love Jesus.

Like Charles Eastman, Native American physician, writer, and social reformer, I like Jesus. I just don’t like a lot of professing Christians. The reason is the same reason why I am not fond of some Hindu, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews. Jesus didn’t like a lot of the religious crowd, either.

In Matthew 23, Jesus outlined the reasons why he didn’t like the Pharisees, who were proud, arrogant, self-righteous keepers of the law in the Jewish temple. In short, they were religious narcissists. Jesus criticized them for doing everything for show – for looking clean on the outside but having hearts that were far from God. They demanded people follow the law to the word yet had no compassion. High standards and perfectionism just doesn’t cut it with Jesus.

As we read in Matthew 25, when Jesus judges the world, he will separate his true followers from false converts based on whether or not a person had a compassionate heart for others. It isn’t contingent on how well they kept the law. It’s not based on how much they accomplished for the church. It’s not for their wealth, status, or influence in the community.

I don’t know about you, but if someone doesn’t have the ability to show me love and compassion, and at the same time speaks out the other side of their mouth about the love of Jesus, I am not going to buy what they are selling. Sadly, this has been the case in many “Christian” families, churches, communities, and countries throughout the world. Many Christians just don’t make Christ believable.

One of the great damnable lies in Western Christianity is that salvation is granted by simple belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, died to take away the sins of the world, and was resurrected. I will tell you today what is written in scripture – even the demons believe. And some yogis also believe that Jesus came to take away the karma of his sincere devotees.

In Matthew 1:21, we are told that Jesus would save people from their sins. Jesus himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) In Luke 24:26-27, Jesus said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Even before his ministry started, John the Baptist called for repentance prior to water baptism.

I remember reading about repentance when I was younger and honestly, it didn’t appeal to me because I was enjoying my sin. I did not feel sorry. That’s the problem with a prideful heart. It takes a measure of humility to receive God’s grace and admit your own poverty and let go of your sins, also known as habits of thought, speech, and actions that cause harm to yourself and to other people.

On the other hand, a lot of people look righteous on the outside, just like the Pharisees did. I recall from my history lessons that some of the most upright characters through world history were outwardly righteous people with brutal natures and no natural affections for their fellow humans. History is replete with such records.

The largest problem in Christianity today is relational sin, or a lack of compassion for others, along with condoning emotional violence. We see it in the first relational unit – the family. When there is brutality in the family, it will be condoned in relationships in the community. Nowhere is this more evident as within political systems and in international relations. Conflict leading to harm of innocents is often precipitated through a lack of compassion.

Unless someone is truly sorry for what they have done to harm themselves and other people (sin), God will not grant redemption. It is necessary to first have a heart opened to leave harmful thoughts and behaviors behind. Then justification (salvation) is granted leading to the filling of the Holy Spirit and sanctification (being freed and purified from sin with deliberate action).

If salvation comes to you, it is completely the grace of God that grants it, and you who makes your election sure through effort. Scripture shows over and over the many ways grace is continually extended to all people everywhere to draw them to repentance. Who has never felt spiritually stirred in the natural beauty of creation?

Over time, someone who has received and accepted God’s enormous grace will transform more and more into the image of Christ. In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus taught to beware of false prophets and to look for their fruits to tell who was true and who was just faking it. In Galatians 5:22-23, the Apostle Paul shares a list of nine characteristics that come to fruition in Christians who are genuine, and spirit filled. They are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If someone claims to be a Christian and never bears fruit – they are either a liar or deceived. Trust yet verify. Become a fruit inspector – especially of your own.

If you’re in the crowd that is bad-mouthing Jesus, you have missed the boat.  How others who claim to be Christians act is not a reflection on Jesus – it’s a reflection on those people. It is also advisable to keep your eyes off of others who are doing wrong. Why? It makes you look like a judgmental, hypocritical complainer, and isn’t that part of the problem most of us apprehend already?

If you are unfamiliar with who Jesus is and what his standards are for humanity, I recommend delving into the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are still my favorite books and the words of Jesus himself can’t be topped anywhere else in the Bible. He was an Old Testament teacher who also taught the New Covenant. He was a bit of a rebel in that he advocated to elevate interests of compassion and love over the law.

Perhaps you will be see the value of his teaching, which is largely relational. Love God and love others. Love doesn’t seek to harm. It seeks the best for all. Those are standards for living I can embrace every day – to follow Jesus and become more and more like him, the man some call the Buddha of Compassion.