Did God send Jesus?
In order to respond to this pertinent question ‘did God send Jesus’ let’s pay heed to the very words of the master found in the Gospel of John 17. During this prayer to God the Father, Jesus expresses hope that the world will know that he was sent by God.
“ ….Then the world will know that you sent me …” (*)
According to Jesus unbelievers will know; that God had sent him when they observe the love and unity within the Christian community. The implication is that they will then convert to Christianity out of admiration. If it is genuine then Jesus was sent by God and a powerful argument is born to convince sceptics that Jesus; must be the Son of God, his love is an awesome thing to experience and Christianity “is” thus the only “true” religion.
However the converse also applies if love and unity is not found in Christianity then God did not send Jesus. So are Christians completely at consensus with each other as Jesus has prayed for and do they love outsiders (unbelievers, gays, atheists, sceptics etc.)? Does Jesus live in them and do they live in Jesus? And does Jesus really love you as an outsider to the faith, if you reject him?
There are many different cultures, ethnic and language groupings under the Christian banner and as a result of this one would not expect there to be conformity but one would nevertheless expect to find Christians united in fulfilment of this prayer of Jesus. But to any outside observer Christians are anything but united. According to Jesus if he was sent by God there would only be ONE united Christian Church. But there is not. There are many Christian Churches competing for your dutiful allegiance, hard earned tithes and offerings.
Even the main tenets of Christian dogma are disputed between: Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox and Pentecostals and Charismatics and Liberals and Evangelicals. They are all at odds with each other. Each one thinking they have the true revelation from God. Each one has valid point’s criticizing the other ones position.
Some believe in the Genesis creation story while others accept theistic evolution. Some believe in the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection while others do not. Some believe the Bible is to be taken literally others do not think that is wise in today’s scientific world. Some think that the Pope is Gods representative on earth others think he is the devils representative.
Some believe Jesus has already come back again, others think he will come back again before the tribulation or in the middle or at the end. Some think Jesus can heal today others say miracles ended in apostolic times. Some say you must speak to God in angelic tongues, others say that is not necessary. Some say you must go to Church, others believe that is not necessary as where ever you are; is the Church.
Some believe in the trinity others think that it is wrong to do so. Some think that Jesus is God (Jesus only) others that Jesus is the Son of God and some think that he is God the Son. Some think that you must baptise converts by total submersion in water and only if they are at the age of understanding others think sprinkling water on babies is okay.
Some say you must go to purgatory (pre heaven) before heaven and only if you are in their Church. Others say you must be “born again” and you will be married to Jesus in heaven - even if you were a serial killer or mad dictator before you became “born again.” To some churches homosexuality and woman preachers are kosher while in some others it is of the devil.
The problem within Christian circles is not only division, but divisiveness, within congregations as well as between (and within) denominations. If there are a hundred people in a particular congregation you would find almost just as many different interpretations of God and his will. Every one has his own pet doctrine, idea and opinion. Christianity is whatever you want it to be. Go to any large Town and you will find four Churches of different persuasions opposite each other at the same four-way intersection vying for your allegiance. In some Towns you will find congregations splitting in two or more parts as elders rebel and start new daughter churches in defiance of oversight.
The truth is that Christianity has never been a monolithic faith. Even in apostolic times the different apostles opposed one another. Paul and Apollo did not sit at the same table. Paul did not submit to Peter, James and John’s revelation of Christianity and vice versa. Even Churches under Paul’s oversight were racked with disunity, division and “false teaching”.
Paul in acknowledgement of this disunity does damage control by reprimanding the divided Corinthian church by saying to them that they have chopped up Christ into little pieces. In a pathetic attempt to engender unity to the “body of Christ” he asserts, despite evidence to the contrary that there is only one God, one Jesus, one baptism and one Church. Despite Paul’s and many other Christian apologists desperate efforts down through the centuries this lack of Christian consensus does not impress convince or persuade any outsider to believe that Jesus was sent by God; rather the contrary, Jesus remains hidden by all the confusion. Where is he? If God sent him the whole world would know.
In fact the obvious disunity, division and schisms are proof that Christianity is man made and not divine. The body of Christ has not been built by God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, but by men. The gates of hell were not needed to bring the walls of the Church tumbling down the unfulfilled prayer of Jesus has sufficed. The Church is supposed to be the “body of Christ” with Jesus as the head. But that is not the case as the thirty six thousand different Christian Churches (and counting) bare testimony to the fact that there must be thirty six thousand different and competing : Lord Jesus Christs, baptisms, faiths, Father Gods, “bodies of Christ”, creeds etc Which one is the true one? Which one was sent by God?
Many honest Christians accept that there is no unity within Christianity and this understanding motivates them to pray for unity - alas in vain. Embarrassed Christian apologists tell us that they are already united by; having one Lord and one Father and one Baptism. But that is not really true because the Church IS divided and that makes the prayer of Jesus look stupid. We have a hard enough time understanding one another living in today’s world. We disagree about everything and we are constantly correcting misunderstandings about what we have said. So it stands to reason that this prayer of Christ’s set up Christianity to fail.
The only way Christians can wriggle out of this conundrum is for God to reveal himself today on the great issues that divide Christianity. Let Jesus and God reveal himself to us like he/they did to the apostles. In the meantime the disunity within Christianity illuminates the fact that the Holy Spirit failed in his mission to bring unity down through the centuries. This fact provides more than sufficient evidence that God did NOT send Jesus.
When faith and not evidence is the basis for what you think then anything you imagine to be true can be believed. And when your subjects are superstitious, gullible and illiterate they will believe anything you tell them. In the next part we will expose the other half of the unity/love issue to scrutiny and see if Christian love is deep, real and vital or superficial, fake and imagined.
To be contd. - Did God send Jesus Part 2
(*) John 17:23 (20 – 26) (NIV)