Jesus loves everyone, He is pro-human.
He is All and in all.
He stands for everyone, but He doesn’t stand with everyone.
He takes sides. Definitive sides. Everywhere He goes, everything He does, and everything He says takes a side.
When Jesus invites people into His life, He seeks followers, not believers. Followers of His actions, example, and teachings. For Jesus, mere beliefs don’t change anything, actions can change everything. In fact, He scolds those whose faith is merely an exercise in creedal accession and lacking in actions that duplicate His. Their beliefs count for nothing and cost Him greatly. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the follower, not the believer.
When Jesus interacts with the poor in spirit, heart, mind, health, sustenance, and possessions, He takes care of them, defends them, and clothes them in high standing and value among all of humanity. He berates the privileged, the down-lookers, the stingy, the hoarders, the best-life living, the callous, and the wealthy, admonishing them to check their attitudes and write the checks that flip the tables of classism and privilege. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the poor, not the privileged.
When Jesus dines with “sinners,” He strips them of the label and tattoos their forehead with “friend.” When a woman is caught in adultery, He steps in and across to “Jackie-Chan” the religious haters and thrust a force field over her, disarming bigoted stones. Nobody rants against faith-phonies and legalism-pushers like Jesus. Nobody spits out religious to-do steps, sin-management, and “you must invite Him into your heart” like Jesus does. One religious lung-biscuit after another, He vomits faith-conservatism out of His mouth. The religiously condemned and oppressed are His people. The condemners and the oppressors, not so much. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the condemned, not the condemner.
When Jesus gathers His disciples for one last huddle, He tasks them with making “learners” of Him throughout the world. Yes, “learners,” not “lorders.” Learners who are free to think, free to doubt, free to question, and free to believe or disbelieve. Their learners–learners who can be learners of Him within all faiths, for He is All and in all. Those who want to use Him for political purposes, for gaining power over people, or for demanding their flavor of faith upon the masses, He resists and disowns, as they are far from being in tune with His message and mission. To any who wish to lord, colonize, or bulldoze their faith into hearts and society, He spreads donkey dung upon their self-serving path and dies on a cross so everyone will know the difference between Him and them. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the learner, not the lorder.
When in the face of a capitalistic society, Jesus tells the controversial story of a boss who pays some workers exactly what he promised for the amount of time they worked. At the same time, he hires other workers to work less time, but pays them the same as those who worked longer. Of course, the original workers were furious, surely claiming that the boss was being “unfair” and socialistic. Jesus highlights the story to uplift the value of grace. The boss didn’t withhold blessings from the first workers, he simply graced the others. By capitalistic standards, it wasn’t fair. In the mind of Jesus, it was better than fair, it was grace. When it comes to anything, from “an eye for an eye” to “selling all your possessions,” Jesus doesn’t side with “fairness.” He doesn’t side with a “fairness” that rigs systems towards the benefit of the “haves” over the “have-nots.” Jesus sides with grace. And to those who withhold it, they receive His deep disdain. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the gracious, not the fair.
When confronted by a group of the religious who insisted that God favored them and were the center of His approval, heart, and blessings, He told them about a shepherd who had a 100 sheep, but left 99 of them to rescue one that got away. But not just got away; shoved out. The one who saw his escape as his only path of survival. The one that had been condemned, marginalized, thrown to the curb, and branded as an outsider. The one “loss” that was deemed by the 99 as the cost of being a “free” herd of sheep. So, Jesus turns over their religious calculations through a simple story to show that God actually sides with the one, not the 99.
The one gun victim, not the 99 gun owners. The one transgender child, not the 99 MAGA bullies. The one gay teenager, not the 99 religious bigots. The one searching for the whole truth, not the 99 book banners and racist history erasers. The one raped woman, not the 99 political careers. The one falsely convicted, not the 99 hooded courtrooms. The one who can’t breathe, not the 99 cops who refuse restraint. The one medically vulnerable, not the 99 anti-maskers. The one following Jesus out of church, not the 99 in church who don’t follow Jesus at all. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the one, not the 99.
Everywhere Jesus is, He’s taking a side.
For the cross is the divine line drawn across the cosmos that makes absolutely clear that God does, indeed, take sides.
Christian, which side are you on?
Grace is brave. Be brave.
Check out Chris’ latest book, Stupid Shit Heard In Church available on Amazon (link below)…
What people are saying:
“After reading just a few chapters, I had to schedule an appointment with my therapist, it’s that good.”
“This book is changing the world.”
“Profound, life-changing; that says it all!”
Wow! That cuts between the marrow and the bone!
Once again Christ Kratzer says some good things but goes off the edge. Amen to all he says about loving people, taking sides, interacting with the poor. But who is doing this today? I have worked with our local Rescue Mission for nearly 30 years. This work has wide-spead support among all the churches, liberal and conservative. However, what many people miss is that it is the Pentecostals, the ethnic churches and the evangelical churches do the most effective ministry. The mission, with a 2.5 million dollar budget, takes no government money because the government would restrict the kind of ministries that can change lives. The government would give keys to apartments to the homeless, believing that somehow this can make a difference in peoples’ lives. I often quote the story (quoted also by Kratzer) of the owner of the vineyard and the grape pickers, but draw a different conclusion. God, by human standards, appears to be an unfair God. It is not justice that prevails in the grapepicker story, but grace (love). But the part Kratzer always leaves out is that grace is based on forgiveness which is based on the cross. We will never achieve “justice” in this world because we disagree on what justice really looks like. Justice interpreted humanly has to do with reparations, being back slights and wrongs, making someone suffer for wrongs of the past. The Christian gospel says Christ takes the suffering for the injustice. Through the cross we are given a clean slate in order to serve others, including the poor