The air was thick and hot, even though it was only 10:00 AM. The parking lot of First Church of the Paraclete was filled with Lexus and BMW, the light of the sun sparkling off the chrome and glass. Church today packed to capacity with believers, doubters, unbelievers and the uber-religious. The praise team just finished singing through “Let the River Flow” for the 10th time and sat down in the front row. Pastor Apostle Dolaris rises from the red velvet covered high back chair and confidently strides up to the glass podium. He stands before his congregation of 10.000, runs his fingers through his perfectly coiffed hair and smiles. His teeth glistening white, so white in fact that the large diamond ring on his pinky finger seems dull in comparison.
“Today, dearly beloved we have with us a special guest. You may have heard of Him traveling around the Valley and teaching the Word of the Lawwwwd. There are many who do not like His teaching as he tends to promote some very uncomfortable ideas. So rather than listening to rumors and gossip we though that we would listen to what He has to say for Himself. Please give a warm Paraclete welcome to our guest, Jeeeeeeeeeezzzzus.”
The applause was lukewarm at best as Jesus stood up and walked to the center aisle. Turning to face the congregation the unenthused clapping died off quickly. People began to whisper to each other.
“This is the guy everyone is talking about?”
“Why look at His clothes! Apparently He doesn’t go to church very often, otherwise He would put a little thought into it. Who wears jeans and a tee-shirt to preach?”
“Maybe He should shave, that beard and hair make him look like one of the homeless refuse we see on the Boulevard.”
” I hear that He disregards the traditions of many churches and makes up His own rules.”
“What was Pastor Apostle Dolaris thinking asking Him to speak, so many people think that He is a heretic!”
Jesus raises His hands and the cavernous auditorium falls silent.
“I am here today to tell you what My Father wants me to tell you. I do not speak from my own thoughts but only from what My Father says.” His eyes blazing as a fire, pierce the crowd.
“Renounce your sinful ways. Renounce your endless pursuit for money, and houses, and cars, and vacations. My Father does not want prosperity to be your god. There are many, on what you call christian television, today that will be burning in hell tomorrow for lying to the sheep! Christianity is not about what you own!”
Jesus continues, “Renounce your sinful ways. Renounce the idol of tradition and bigger churches and $10 million dollar budgets, and having the latest and greatest electronics and sound equipment and air conditioning. Christianity is not about your comfort!”
Murmuring grows a little louder…Several people in Armani suits and Prada dresses get up and leave, faces red with anger.
Jesus walks down the aisle, “Renounce your sin. Renounce your adherence to narrow-minded legalism dressed up as religious piety. Stop laying heavy burdens on the shoulders of the weak sheep. Stop insisting your way is the right way and that you think that you have it all figured out. Stop keeping people from the kingdom of God with your rules, regulations and man-made ideas. Christianity is not about what you do, it is all about what God has done!
Several ushers are motioned to the stage, they hunch around Pastor Apostle Dolaris, like a football team around a quarterback.
Jesus continues. “Renounce your sinful ways! Stop dragging the name of my Father and My Name into the political arena. Stop condemning the lost with words of hate, arrogance, and pride. Stop pretending that you speak for Me when you tell people that a hurricane, or earthquake, or tsunami was sent by God to punish “those” sinners. Do you not realize that with a Word I could destroy the entire earth! You are not better because you said a prayer, live in america, or hate “the gays” and other sinners because you all are wicked sinners. My Father is sick of your moralistic superior mindset. If judgement would come it would come to the church.
Now the church erupts into pandemonium. People yelling and screaming at Jesus, others walking out the door, still other fill the stage raging at Pastor Apostle Dolaris for bringing this heretic into the church.
Jesus again raises His arms and raises His voice and like the storm on the sea of Galilee became quiet so did the turbulent crowd “Be still!!!!!!!” He commands.
“There is more you must hear.” Jesus says quietly.
And there is more, but that will be in the next installment.