Jesus was a child born out of wedlock to a single, unemployed mother. He was a person of color with an "alien" religion living under the violent imperial rule of the Roman empire. His people were oppressed and subjugated to a government, economy, and religion not of their own. His religious leaders were sell-outs and made a mockery of their people by cozying up to the imperial rulers and the economic elites. Jesus fought back. He brought a radical vision to the world and he shared it with everyone he came across. He told the rich they must give up everything they owned to follow him. He told the poor the Beloved Community was for them and he told the peacemakers and meek that they would inherit the Earth. He would visit the most marginalized people in society, those that others forced to live segregated from the rest because their very existence inspired fear and loathing: the lepers. Jesus broke every socially accepted norm by going to the lepers, holding them and telling them that he loved them and would care for them. Jesus denied he had a family, if it meant that everyone was not his family. He said that his message was not for the rich and powerful, the politicians and religious leaders, but it was for the imprisoned convict, the widow, the orphan, the disabled, the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. His message was a vision of a radical community built on a radical love. But this message was delivered in a world structured on principles of war, competition, profit, and individualism - and so the rich and the powerful conspired and, like so many people of color in our history who have fought for justice and taught a message of love, Jesus Christ was lynched by the imperial state.
To be a Christian, or "Christ-like", is very demanding. It requires that we live uncomfortable lives. It requires that we do more than pray, or go to church, or have a bumper sticker in the shape of a fish. It requires that we act on that radical love to build a radical community. It requires that we open ourselves up to the dangers of holding the leper. That we push ourselves to love the convict and act in ways that show we care for them. To be "Christ-like" requires that we re-make the world on principles of Justice, because a world with more Justice is a world that requires less charity.
So as a Christian and someone who attends County Commission meetings regularly, I am deeply disgusted by the public hand-wringing by the rich and the powerful - by the politicians and the religious leaders of today - over the unconstitutional endorsement of Jesus Christ at the opening of meetings by the Hamilton County Commission.
Their actions are the ultimate in hypocrisy: the Hamilton County Commission is taking a firm stand on using the name of "Jesus Christ" to open their proceedings, but in the last two years has cut all funding for the local orphanage, for social services to the poor, marginalized, oppressed and disabled. I don't remember seeing the churches then, when budgets, which are moral documents that reflect our collective priorities, were making a mockery of Christian values and principles. I don't remember seeing the Commission fighting when they drove a nail through the arm of Christ with tax-breaks. They didn't say a word when they murdered my Lord with budget cuts.
There are names for people like that: white-washed sepulchers, a den of vipers. At least, that's what Christ called them.
"What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me." - Jesus Christ