The Problem With Teddy Bear Jesus
Posted by acatholicteenapologist
I know the title sounds a little weird, maybe even a little funny, but I think my meaning will be made perfectly clear in this post. So bear with me here (pun intended).
When you say, “I’m a Christian”, what does that mean? Does it mean that you go to church every Sunday, or go when you can? Does it mean that you tolerate other people? Does it mean that you say you “don’t judge” but secretly pass judgment on everyone in your heart? Or does it mean that you go out and feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Visit the imprisoned? What SHOULD it mean?
I’m afraid that, in many ways, we have watered down the Gospel. We’re comfortable with where we are (especially in the West). We have a nice house, a good family, enough food and water, and some of us have more than enough entertainment. But hey, we go to church every single Sunday and we always put money in the plate and pay attention during the service and listen to the (sometimes long and boring) sermon/message for the day. We try to be good friends to people and attempt to be fair and just in our work.
But…is that all we should be doing?
Have we diluted the Gospel so much that we think we’re doing “enough”? When we read about Jesus blessing the poor, telling people to sell their belongings and give to those in need, warning that the rich will have a hard time of entering the Kingdom…we squirm a little bit. Somehow, though, it’s all explained away. That was just Jesus’ culture, just something in that time period that needed to be addressed — we have nothing to worry about. And hey, we give to charities! We ARE helping the poor!
Are we, really?
“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Clinging to this teddy bear Jesus we’ve invented — this Jesus who affirms everything we do and is constantly reassuring us that we’re doing “enough” — isn’t gonna cut it. The Gospel message is radical! Going to church is great and we should do that; giving monetarily to churches is good and we should do that; trying to be kind to others is good and we should do that, too. But here’s a good test: if you’re really comfortable with your life and can’t imagine it without the comforts you have now, can’t imagine inconveniencing yourself, can’t imagine how you could possibly do more, chances are that you’re far from doing what you could be doing.
Now before you start thinking that I’m gonna tell you to sell your house and go move to some random country you’ve never heard of, just hold on a minute. The ministry you SHOULD be doing, the ministry you COULD be doing, isn’t necessarily across the globe somewhere. There are people in your community right now who are starving, who are lonely, depressed, and in need of love and compassion. Start there. Give of your time and your talents. When you see someone in need, don’t stop to ask whether or not they are “worthy” of your help — help them. And I’m not talking about giving the homeless person standing by the side of the road a couple of coins as you walk by. Look into that person’s eyes and talk to that person, and find out how you can help that individual. You don’t have to go to some other country to live out the Gospel message. You can give completely of yourself and your talents right here, right where you live, right now.
There are also people in other countries, all over the world, who need our love and support. You can send money and prayers — but you can also volunteer to go and help. It’s one thing to pity the poor and quite another to live in solidarity with them. Jesus doesn’t call us to be of help from a distance. He calls US to be His hands and feet, to give drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We shouldn’t be comfortable with sitting back and watching as our brothers and sisters suffer and go hungry and endure hardship at home and abroad. As difficult as it is sometimes, we have to reach out and help.
There are people who are starving. There are people who are suffering. There are people being persecuted. There are people who are ostracized. There are people who don’t feel welcome in our churches. There are people who are refugees, fleeing from oppressive and dangerous regimes. There are people who are depressed and need love and support. There are people who are afraid, children who are abused and need homes…the list goes on. There is no shortage of work to be done.
Love is an act of self-giving. If we are to love the poor and those most in need of our help, we can’t possibly think that sitting around is going to cut it. We’re going to have to get out of our comfort zones, to let ourselves be challenged. Don’t let yourself settle for doing the bare minimum. Push the envelope a little bit at a time. What Jesus calls us to is radical and absolutely challenging — He set the bar pretty high. But with His grace, we can do it.
Don’t hold anything back! If you think, “I’ll do this act of service, but no way am I doing that!”…you should go do that. It’ll never be easy and rarely be convenient, but it will always be rewarding. Give of yourself completely, a total surrender to God and neighbor out of love.
That’s what Jesus asks of us. THAT’S what it means to be a Christian. Take some time to think about that during this Lenten season.
About acatholicteenapologistI am a Catholic teenager who loves to share the truth of the Catholic Faith with others.
Posted on March 10, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged easy Gospel, Gospel message, lent, liberation theology, live the Gospel, Matthew 25, matthew 25 reflection, poor, teddy bear Jesus. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.