Richard Crossland and his family, residents of Delaware, USA, felt their stomachs become uneasy. Within a few days he and his family were dead, victims of contaminated water. They had unknowingly left a piece of rotten meat over their well, and the putrefying mass had dropped into their water supply.1
Have you ever been really hot and thirsty and downed a glass of cool, clear water? If so, you are privileged. According to the World Health Organization, over three million people die annually because of contaminated water, more than total deaths from crime and war combined.
Imagine a world with complete purity—not just water, but people and ideas. Imagine a world without any contamination from spin or bias. What if we could get what we needed to know without any pretense or deception? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have information presented in its true form—unadulterated, free from corruption?
This impurity is the problem with religion today—many feel that they are taught religious ideals that are contaminated by human greed or ambition. In the past, people have indeed used religion as a vehicle for corruption and violence. Religion has been blamed for incompetent government and the launching of world wars. Pastors, priests, and clerics have manipulated the spiritual needs of individuals for their own profit. Countries have been torn apart because of one religious sect battling another.
Sadly, many of the accusations that have been and are being brought against religion are correct.
This frustration with religion’s track record—what appears to be its contaminated status—is certainly true of one of the world’s largest organized religions, Christianity. Many people are hostile toward the church but love Jesus. Many feel suspicious of membership and organization but are open to the figure of Christ.
Gandhi, the great leader of the twentieth-century Indian independence movement, once said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Many people feel that there is a large contrast between Christ and Christianity. Perhaps you’ve seen this difference also.
The True Jesus
The irony is that Jesus was so anti-corruption.
In His preaching, He called out the abuses and misdeeds of the religious establishment. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus came to illuminate the true meaning of religion, “the law and the prophets,” that religious teachers had twisted and abused.
In fact, the Scriptures that He preached even predicted a false, corrupted Christianity to come in the future. It would cause global suffering and persecute those at odds with its teachings, which misrepresented God. This corrupt Christianity would “make war” with anyone who disagreed with it and “prevail against them” (Daniel 7:21). But despite the abuses of religion in the past and in the future, Jesus did not seek to destroy religion, but to illuminate its true meaning.
Before His death on the cross, the Romans brought Jesus before Pilate, one of their rulers. When Pilate questioned Him regarding His arrest by Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). Jesus taught that true religion was not about worldly success or personal gain, but something beyond this world.
Jesus came to offer a pure and genuine spirituality, a transcendent yet supremely practical way that not only addresses our human problems, but also solves divine ones. How can a God that is all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing allow for suffering? How does good deal with evil—with force, or with something else? Jesus presented solutions this world had never seen before. “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Imagine a Christianity without any contamination. What if you knew the true intents, teachings, character, and reasoning of Jesus Christ in the way that He meant them? No pretense. No spin.
What if there were a way to understand Christ in His purity?
What if you could understand love, peace, joy, and faith more deeply than the words and pictures Hallmark uses on its cards—as Jesus Himself talked about them and demonstrated in His life?
What if you could understand Jesus’ teachings without the political biases and religious interpretations that have muddled them for centuries?
What if Jesus weren’t a crazed rabble-rouser or merely a good teacher? What if He were more exalted than anything any human being could imagine, more than just one in a long line of wise men?
Here is what one writer had to say about the true Jesus: “Jesus was a perfect pattern of what we should be. He was the strictest observer of His Father’s law, yet He moved in perfect freedom. He had all the fervor of the enthusiast, yet He was calm, sober, and self-possessed. He was elevated above the common affairs of the world, yet He did not exclude Himself from society. He dined with publicans and sinners, played with little children, and took them in His arms and blessed them. He graced the wedding feast with His presence. He shed tears at the grave of Lazarus.
“His zeal never degenerated into passion nor His consistency into selfish obstinacy. His benevolence never savored of weakness nor His sympathy of sentimentalism. He combined the innocence and simplicity of the child with manly strength, all-absorbing devotion to God with tender love for man. He possessed commanding dignity combined with winning grace of humility. He manifested unyielding firmness with gentleness.”2
Do you want this uncontaminated perspective? You would be making a decision that millions of people need to make, but don’t, because of past experience or fear. You would be taking the first step toward seeing, knowing, and even believing in the pure person, character, and life of Jesus.
Take this step by reading the most comprehensive book on Jesus’ life, teachings, and prophecies: The Desire of Ages. Just as the title implies, this book shows why, in spite of centuries of corruption by humans, Jesus inspires hope, transformation, and devotion. He called His teachings living water, and He invites you to try some.
2 In Heavenly Places, page 54
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Cover image: ©www.photodune.net