Sometimes I wonder if the world considers Jesus the Criminal of All Time. You'd think so. The way that some rail against Him, His teachings, His church, you'd think that Jesus was one of the most ardent con artists of all time.
Jesus is hauled off of public property. There He is but a Baby in a manger setting. Yet He's flung across the lot into some warehouse or dumpster for His very presence is "offensive." So there go Mary and Joseph as well. And the angels to boot.
Is Jesus that outrageously awful? What crime did He commit? What terrible deed did He set upon humanity by which, two thousand years later, He's scorned, lifted up as a Madman and then derailed from political life, government property and the marketplace.
Santa can stay. Elves can play around. Frosty can scamper. But Jesus has to go.
The culture has a hatred settled in maximum when it comes to Jesus. But when I read about Him in the historic records - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - I don't come upon a distasteful personality. I come instead upon an individual who blesses little children, heals the sick, and comforts the forlorn.
It's this Jesus who drives straight the discrimination against women by speaking to a Samaritan woman - one considered a half-breed by the culture. He not only speaks with her but offers hope of forgiveness and new life in grace.
It's this Jesus who reaches out to the lepters - the scum of society of the first cenutry rule.
It's this Jesus who feeds the thousands , teaches His own how to pray, provies miracle wine at a marriage feast, and puts His loving arms around the forgotten and forsaken.
It's this Jesus who then climbs upon a Roman cross, permitting soldiers to drive spikes into His flesh. He, having committed no wrong, no crime, broken no law, hangs between the skies till He dies. Having no money for His own burial plot, He's placed in a borrowed gravesite.
And for His thirty-three years of caring for people, loving the lvoeless and pointing folk to heaven, He's still screamed at, strewn across history's pages as a maniacal religious zealot, and then hacked to pieces in one court room after another.
The ACLU breathes daily to crucify Jesus afresh. So some school personnel - from superintends to classroom teachers to custodians and bus drivers. And those who don't are in fear of losing their positions if they speak out in defense of Jesus.
There are town clerks who wake up in the morning just to see if any Jesus follower comes into the office with the attempt to display a Nativity School in fonrt of town hall. If the request commes to the desk, the inquirer's knuckles are wrapped and the posterior is pointed to the town hall's exit sign.
What did Jesus do to the ACLU? What did Jesus do to harm town hall or the school district or the mall? What did Jesus do to hurt society and destroy culture? What, in God's name, did Jesus do to deserve such hatred?
Yet, Jesus, knowing the desperate damage done to the moral's soul in The Fall, forecast that He would be despised. He would be hated of all men. And those who pikced up His cross dailyi, following in His bloody footsteps, would be despised as well. They would be hated.
So today those who attempt to sing about the redemption of Jesus' blood in a Unitarian Church are told to worship someplace else. Those who speak of Jesus in a public classroom, or, God forbid, try to sing a Christian Christmas carol in a school program, are marched to the courts.
Jesus said, "They hate Me. They will hate you too." With that, Jesus warned His own that for the duration of the Church Age hatred would well up amazingly strong against the gospel witness.
Yet the more the hatred stirs, the more the disciples testify to the saving grace of Jesus. It is He who is Savior and Lord, Master and Guide. He is the way to the Father, the One who died in our stead, who permitted His sinless body to be torn apart in our place. It is Jesus who said that to know Him is to know the hope of heaven. "Where I am, there you will be also."
So the Christians persist against the secularists - the ACLU, godless school principals and unbelieving teachers, apostate clergy in various denominating, and those who masquerade as do-gooders for society who all the while work to crush religious freedom, Christian witness, and the due rights of believers to tell the old, old story of the cross.
J. Grant Swank Jr.