The professor of my Gospels class posed the following question on Monday: "To what ends are we using Jesus? Jesus was not an evangelical Christian. Jesus was also not a progressive liberal Christian." Indeed. Jesus was not a Christian AT ALL.
Yet, we hijack Jesus for our own purposes CONSTANTLY. Convicted. Right here. That's me. I am ashamed to admit that I have said the following thing more than once:
"Jesus was the original social radical. Jesus would be on the side of the progressives. The evangelicals have it wrong."
The fact of the matter is that there are no sides, and if there were, Jesus would not be picking one. Jesus loves those with whom I disagree just as much as Jesus loves me.
A few years ago, when I participated in the Urban Servant Corps here in Denver I was really humbled by the friendship I built with my house mate Jeff, who happened to be an evangelical Christian. In the course of my friendship with Jeff, I learned that I was pre-judging him before he could judge me. Then, when he never ended up passing judgment on my beliefs, I looked like a fool. Learned a pretty important lesson there.
When we use Jesus as a wedge to put space between ourselves and our brothers and sisters in faith, we are hijacking Jesus. Which serves no purpose and is counterproductive. When we use Jesus as a weapon, we miss the chance to love. So while I intellectually can look at this, actually doing it, and remembering to do it, when I am in the throes of a disagreement with another Christian. So, I ask that God come in with radical grace, and help me to love those with whom I disagree. And for heaven's sake, to help me stop hijacking Jesus. Because I can only keep my own side of the street clean.