Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What If Jesus Came To Beverly Hills Today?


Dear Friends,

Two thousand years ago a major celebrity came to town. Riding on a donkey. The multitudes cut down palm branches to spread on the road and cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:1-9 In the time of Jesus, the population of Jerusalem was about 30,000 people and the City of Beverly Hills is about that same size today. What if after doing miracle healing services all throughout California for three years, Jesus rode into Beverly Hills as a modern-day celebrity on Palm Sunday?

The first thing is that massive crowds would trigger an L.A. County Unified Emergency Response and law enforcement agencies from all over Southern California would be responding to Beverly Hills. People cutting down the palm tree fronds along Sunset Blvd and laying the branches in the road would be arrested for vandalism of City trees, littering, and obstructing traffic. 

If Jesus rode in on a donkey, P.E.T.A – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would be protesting against the cruel and inhumane use of a domestic animal for transportation purposes. Protesters would splash red paint on Jesus as punishment for violating the donkey’s rights and humiliating the animal by riding it. Jesus and the disciples would finally make their way to the Beverly Hilton where they would spend the week and on Thursday, celebrate Passover in the Upper Celebrity Suite. 

Trouble begins when a bishop from one of our largest mainline denominations, rebukes Jesus for using problematic patriarchal language when referring to God as “Father” and “He.” She calls Jesus a misogynist and demands He use their denomination's politically-correct, gender-neutral terms for God such as: "Holy Life Force," "Higher Power," or "Divine Being."

After Jesus appears on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” and announces that He is the only way to God, John 14:6 House Democrats pass an emergency resolution condemning the Islamophobic remarks of Jesus and former president Obama breaks his customary silence to once again remind us that America is not a Christian nation. The following Tuesday, in a segment on CBS Good Morning, Gayle King, invites Mary Magdalene, a Muslim Imam, a New Age Guru and a Wiccian Princess to explore all of the various pathways to Heaven and to find the greater enlightenment.

Dr Phil McGraw rushes to book the woman at the well on his show and surprises her by bringing on her five husbands. He confronts her with her past, and shows how she constructed Jesus as an imaginary, metaphoric father figure while she continues to seek reconciliation with her own father through destructive relationships with men.

In the news, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports that Jesus’ healing miracles are fictitious stories invented by Republican politicians as an attack on the progressive “Medicare for All” plan, and on KNBC, weatherman Fritz Coleman presents a special report showing how a weather anomaly could have made it appear that Jesus walked on water. 

But the real trouble starts on Thursday morning when Jesus appears on “The View.” Jesus is asked about transgenders, gender non-conforming people and same sex marriages. Repeating His own words as recorded in the Gospels, He reminds them that God created “male and female” and describes marriage as being between a man and a woman. Mark 10:6-8 Joy Behar shouts, “That’s transphobic and homophob..” “Wait..!” Whoopi Goldberg interrupts. “Ten years ago we all believed that nonsense about marriage and gender but don’t you believe, Sir, that the Bible must be rewritten and changed to conform to what we believe today?” Jesus gently says, “Heaven and earth will disappear but my words by no means will pass away.” Matthew 24:35 There’s outrage and pandemonium as Joy Behar screams an obscenity at Jesus and Whoopi Goldberg storms off the set. They cut to a commercial.

That night on ABC Nightly News, a progressive presidential candidate denounces the words of Jesus as an example of the “Christian hate speech” that will no longer be tolerated in America. The clip from “The View” goes viral on social media, and on Friday morning, thousands of people with political signs stage a mass protest in front of the Beverly Hills Courthouse and yell, “Crucify Him..! Crucify Him..!”

Would Jesus be treated any better today than He was 2000 years ago? What do you think? And, if the events of Holy Week took place today, perhaps even more importantly for us to consider is what would we do? Would we stand with Jesus to face the violent mobs or shrink back into the shadows to deny Him like Peter did? Matthew 26:69-75 

It’s comfortable for us to grab the hands of the person sitting next to us in church and pray for them, but are we comfortable grabbing the hand of a neighbor and praying for them on their front lawn? We sing praises to His Holy Name at church on Sunday, but are we ashamed to even mention His Name at work on Monday? Do we wear that cross around our neck on Sunday for our church friends to see but hide it in the jewelry drawer when we go shopping on Wednesday? It can be so easy to shout out “Hosanna in the highest” on Palm Sunday and so hard to even acknowledge our Christian faith when the hostile world is shouting “Crucify Him, Crucify Him” on Good Friday.. or a good Tuesday..or a good Wednesday..or a good Saturday..

When you read the above story, you may have laughed and cringed at the truth of it or you now may be angry at the way that our Nation’s media and culture have been depicted. But the fictitious story portrays the unprecedented attacks on the Christian faith in our Nation today by many in the media and in the political, educational and entertainment worlds. In response, we need to stand with the Son of God and not be ashamed of our faith. Jesus was the one true “celebrity” in the first century. He still is! And our broken world today needs Him more than ever...

NOTE: This AMEN Corner was originally published in 2013 and one of our most controversial. Readers either seemed to enjoy it immensely or were highly offended. It is expected that this revised version will elicit the same response. 

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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