I have been reading the New Testament lately and thinking of the cultural implications of what it meant to be a Christian in the First Century. Those jokers were totally counter-cultural. I found this quote that summed it up well, I thought:
…led early Romans to consider the first Christians as atheists, because their “religion” was so upside-down to them. They’d ask, “Where is your temple?” to which the Christians would reply they didn’t have a building, and Jesus was their temple. So then they’d ask, “Well, who is your priest?” to which they’d reply we don’t have a priest on earth, because Jesus is our ultimate priest in Heaven. Finally they’d ask, “Well, who is your sacrifice?” to which the early Christians would respond that they no longer give or do sacrifices because Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all (King’s Cross, Tim Keller, pg.48).
More than 2000 years later, I think there is a case to be made for the same conclusion although for different reasons. We have been fine tuning Christianity since the first century. In many places it is now such a well-oiled machine that I wonder if we can’t be considered atheistic as well. If asked “Where is your temple?” we could give directions to our “campus.” When asked “Where is your priest?” we could share our pastor’s phone number or Facebook profile. When asked “Who is your sacrifice?” we would respond Jesus, but I am His representative here. His hands and feet, so to speak. I sacrifice my time and resources every week here.
I want to guard myself against massaging Jesus out of my Christian walk. In themselves none of those things are inherently wrong. However, as a replacement for Jesus they all fall short.
Could we still be viewed as atheistic in Christianity today, even if for other reasons? Have we streamlined Christianity to a point where it’s hard for Jesus to get in?