Why weren’t we lamenting and whispering the names of the victims together with shaky breaths and broken hearts? Why weren’t more preachers decrying the societal problems that led to these senseless deaths? Was it too polarizing to draw attention to a tragedy involving two of America’s most controversial problems – guns and racism? I do not know for sure. But I have a good guess about what problem lay at the heart of the misguided worship that Sunday morning.
I am convinced that people in the church disregard and remain silent about oppression in society not because they are apathetic but because they deeply misunderstand Jesus and the gospel. Some have lost sight of the countercultural message of Christ; others have been misreading the Gospels all along. The result of this misinterpretation is that many Christians do not model their lives after the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Instead, they follow a Jesus of their own invention – paper-mached out of pieces of the American dream and constructed with strips of exceptionalism, ethnocentrism, and false optimism. A large percentage of those who claim to be Christians in America don’t understand their own Scripture; they believe what their pastors tell them about social issues, and they follow the traditional values their families have handed down to them, but they have a skewed picture of the character and priorities of Jesus. They are familiar with the general outline of the Jesus story – that he lived, died, and rose – but they know very little about the topics of his preaching ministry, the meaning of his actions, or the way he interacted with people in his world.
From “Scapegoats: The Gospel Through the Eyes of Victims” by Jennifer Garcia Bashaw – Fortress Press