Back in my church daze (pun intended), I used to serve the Jesus who was coming back to earth as a vengeful warrior, ready to strike down entire nations with a cold-blooded sword (Rev. 19). Such was his blood-thirsty pursuit, he even wore a robe dripping blood from his grizzly massacre of the masses.
As a Christian, I was reportedly going to participate in this mass annihilation of all those heathens (including my friends and relatives who didn’t believe in Jesus) and somehow I was going to be eternally blissful shortly thereafter, even knowing that these murdered folks were brought back to some kind of conscious state only to forever boil in a cauldron of sulphur in the lake of fire! And who could blame me for believing in this Jesus? This is the only Jesus I got from the Bible that I’d been hearing and reading for more than 30 years—the Bible translated and interpreted by tradition and agenda for centuries, then controlled and handed down to naive billions throughout Church history. Apparently, this Jesus and this Bible had profoundly shaped Christianity through the tireless efforts of many misguided, although beloved and highly respected, Church leaders throughout the centuries (following quotes courtesy of Tentmaker.org).
Jonathan Edwards: “The view of the misery of the damned will double the ardour of the love and gratitude of the saints of heaven. The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever. . .Can the believing father in Heaven be happy with his unbelieving children in Hell. . . I tell you, yea! Such will be his sense of justice that it will increase rather than diminish his bliss” ["The Eternity of Hell Torments" (Sermon), April 1739 & Discourses on Various Important Subjects, 1738].
“The pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive the wicked: the flames do now rage and glow. The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much in the same way as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked…He will trample them beneath His feet with inexpressible fierceness; He will crush their blood out, and will make it fly, so that it will sprinkle His garment and stain all His raiment.” Works, vii. 499.
Charles Spurgeon: “When thou diest, thy soul will be tormented alone; that will be a hell for it, but at the day of judgment they body will join they soul, and then thou wilt have twin hells, thy soul sweating drops of blood, and thy body suffused with agony. In fire exactly like that which we have on earth thy body will lie, asbestos-like, forever unconsumed, all thy veins roads for the feet of pain to travel on, every nerve a string on which the devil shall forever play his diabolical tune of ‘Hell’s Unutterable Lament’” (Sermon on the Resurrection of the Dead).
John Calvin (who burned dissenting Christians to death over green wood and who I believe elicited the greatest Christian hypocrisy and injury to the world’s perception of God today): “Forever harassed with a dreadful tempest, they shall feel themselves torn asunder by an angry God, and transfixed and penetrated by mortal stings, terrified by the thunderbolts of God, and broken by the weight of his hand, so that to sink into any gulf would be more tolerable than to stand for a moment in these terrors.”
It is any wonder that countless atrocities of terror and injustice have been enacted against those over the millennia who did not seem, in the eyes of the beholder, a fitting soul of heaven? Why not kill them now and rid the world of such ghastly evil, all in the name of our king of war? Yet, the gospel of Christianity is rather schizophrenic, speaking out of both sides of its mouth in that this same violent Jesus is also “merciful, loving, graceful, patient, and saving,”—as long as it’s not “too late.” Once it’s “too late,” then the hostile, murderous Jesus comes out to play, wielding his razor-sharp sword.
And who could blame this Jesus as an indignant war monger? He merely acts in line with the reported character of his vengeful, punishing father—a father who would damn most of His own children to hell forever and in fact, dangle them over the fire as “loathsome insects”—and somehow brush His hands off in callous disgust and yet, blissful satisfaction. This is the “blessed heritage” we were handed by our Christian and Jewish forefathers, beginning with miscommunicated, miscopied, and/or mistranslated Scriptures (Jer. 8:8-10), and then proliferated by vengeful “sons of thunder,” the nickname given by Jesus to James and John, who said the following to him:
“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume [those heathen unbelievers who rejected you]” (Luke 9:54)?
Wait. Cut! The real Jesus—the one who represents the Love and Heart of a Father—interrupts the party and says in rebuke:
“You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them!”
Here’s what I’m learning. The real Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem—a city known for it’s outrageous violence in the name of God, right up to this day. Kings who rode donkeys came in peace, which was the biggest reason that Jesus’ followers doubted and even turned away from him. On his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem, he didn’t come and take over the city and strike down their enemies like they expected. Jesus was trying to teach his followers something important, but they missed it then, and they are still missing it today. Jesus came to destroy the enemy of death, not people, in order that he might include ALL in his unfailing plan of salvation for the coming ages. There are dozens of witnesses to this effect throughout Scriptures (Gen. 12:3, Is. 25:6-8, John 12:32; Rom. 5:18). Those who “get” the real Jesus in this age recognize that he came to bring peace, healing, and life to the world, not hate, war, and death.
What about Revelation? At close inspection, Revelation is a fully symbolic book that is not as bloody and damning as we’ve been taught. Think about it. The Jesus in Revelation 19 has a sword coming out of his mouth. How can we take that literally? The New Testament plainly deciphers that this symbolic “sword” is not a bloody weapon to kill, but a spiritual instrument of truth to empower and heal (Eph. 6:17, Heb. 4:12)! And the “robe dipped in blood” is the symbolic reference to the robe of Joseph, who was left for dead by his murderous brothers, but who later saved his brothers’ lives and reconciled with them. The list goes on!
It is so sad and regretful to me that people have created such a fear of Jesus, God, and the future. It’s time to stop spreading rumors about the bloody, fearful king of war, and start believing and emulating the gentle Prince of Peace. We can start by studying out Greek words to see how they’ve been mistranslated and distorted by men with violent, bigoted, unmerciful hearts. Then we can continue by recognizing that the Scriptures are to be spiritually discerned on a deeper level, not by the plain letter in black and white on a page. Remember, the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. Whoever has ears to hear, let him/her hear what the spirit is saying! There is NO FEAR in love, but perfect love casts out ALL FEAR.
God is not mad at you. God is not waiting to destroy you (or your enemies). God is not biding His time to destroy His Creation. The Father and Son I am getting reacquainted with are not about mass destruction, worldwide apocalypse, or future punishment; the real Father and Son are about building up, unifying, and restoring life and love to ALL! As it is written…
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. …love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:27, 28, 35).
Now that is a Jesus worth serving!