Thus spake John Piper, the wise. It makes me sad. There is a new religion that has entered through the American revivalists over the decades, and it isn’t Christianity. It is a religion of power, authority, money, influence and control. Its ugly babies are abuse, rape, violence, racism, and oppression.
This “religion” has a “masculine feel” – which is now defined as Christians taking dominion, conquering wives, controlling children, taking over counties, states, and eventually countries. (I believe that masculinity is a gift of God that can be used for much good, but that is another subject.)
It snuck in stealthily and some of us didn’t really wake up to it recently. And many, like me, have asked since “What happened to Christianity? How did it turn in to power and politics and hatred and blustering. How did it turn into abuse and oppression and coverup? How did the dynamic of authority and submission come to take the place of the gospel? What happened to the good news that the church was commissioned to proclaim?”
How could we have gotten it so wrong? Many have written on it and have done well. Most of them have been cast out of their churches, received death threats and suffered all sorts of abuse. All that does is prove the validity of the question. “When did Christianity turn into something so unlike itself?”
This is a blog. It isn’t a book. It is a short commentary designed to encourage thought. So I would like to simply modify Piper’s statement to something a little more Biblical, and leave it at that. If you like, you can compare these statements to Piper’s statement and determine for yourself, if you are willing to do so. Perhaps the answer to the question, “How did we get here?” might spring up in your mind.
Instead of saying, “Christianity has a masculine feel”, look at these nine more biblical alternatives:
“Christianity has a lover’s embrace feel” (Song of Songs)
“Christianity has a mothering hen and sheltering chicks feel” (Matthew 23:37)
“Christianity has a begging widow feel” (Luke 18:1-8)
“Christianity has a dying beggar feel” (Luke 16:20-21)
“Christianity has a babies and nursing infants feel” (Matthew 11:25; Matthew 21:16)
“Christianity has a big, warm, lying in each other’s arms feel” (Luke 15:20; John 13:23)
“Christianity has a desperate, helpless sinner feel” (Luke 18:13)
“Christianity has a hopeless prisoner, outcast, despised, mourning, fringe kind of feel” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18-19).
“Christianity has a safe, belonging, peaceful, nourishing, apron-wearing, serving one another kind of feel” (so, so, so many passages John 13; Romans 8; Revelation 20-21; Isaiah 2; Zephaniah 3)
There are probably many more, and the difference is crucial. There are those who have power, who are masculine in every cultural sense of the word; there are those who are in charge, who have money, who sit on thrones, who rule their houses, who have resources, time, authority and status…
But that isn’t Christianity. If you have those things, you must consider them all to be dung, be willing to give them all away, learn to wear an apron, become as a nursing child or begging widow, or you are, quite honestly, not worthy of Christ’s name. Nor are you worthy to use any of the power that God has given you until you first learn to lay it aside and take up an apron.
But on the other hand, those on the fringes, those who are unclean, those who are weak, beggars, cast-aways, despised, hated, thirsty, longing for love and for embrace and for belonging and safety, Jesus is speaking to YOU.
“Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”
Not “and I will teach you to be manly”
Not “and I will teach you how to have power over people”
Not “and I will teach you what you have to do to earn favor with God”
But “I will give you rest.”
I have heard that according to Babylonian mythology, the gods created humans because they needed workers.
God did not create us because he needed workers in his kingdom. He created us to rest in his bosom. He created us free to create, to plant, to reap, to sing, to dance, to rejoice in the love of the Holy Trinity, into which we have been sweetly drawn in by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we turn it into a “masculine feel” of conquest, authority, power, control, we always end up in some truly ugly places.
Stop the idolatry of Babel, resurrected as Christian nationalism. Learn to rest in the bosom of the shepherd.
James 3:17–18 (NKJV)
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
That can only happen when we learn how to rest in God’s love and stop trying to control everyone or make them our servants. Learn to wear the apron. Learn to rest in the embrace. Long for the lover’s voice. This is Christianity.