"I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" Jesus, speaking in Luke, chapter 12, verse 49
Back in the old days, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, the company now called Nissan Motors was known as Datsun, and they had a catchy jingle that went, "Nobody demands more from a Datsun than Datsun! We are driven!"
Jesus is like that demanding teacher you had that maybe drove you crazy, but who when you look back on your life, seems instrumental to any success you have had as a person.
Most church people have either never met this Jesus, or at least have avoided getting to know the guy all that well. Why? Well, not without a good reason--zeal is often associated with obsession, and being obsessed involves being nutty. Many of the truly vocal people who have embraced the fire that Jesus came to bring to the earth seem to think that Jesus wants us to set the religious equivalent of forest fires. I can see why they might think that, given that according this same passage of scripture, Jesus goes on to say, "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
Yeah, I know, this needs to be put in context, but first I would like to point out to any good Christian people who quote scary-sounding stuff that Allah said from the Quran as a way to trash Islam that we need to take a good hard look at how a lot of stuff in the Bible sounds before we go pointing fingers at other religions.
So, back to my point: Jesus is kind of a pain in the posterior to his followers. He doesn't like to be pinned down and stereotyped as "gentle Jesus, nice guy from Palestine who just wants us all to get along." Yeah, Jesus is the Prince of Peace and all that, but he doesn't just want everyone to make nice. He has standards. He wants people to work hard and fight the good fight, to refuse to compromise our ideals just to avoid making waves.
Churches with full pews are doing something right. I strongly believe that churches succeed across denominations and regardless of politics, when they standards for themselves and their members, and push their clergy and their members to make goals and achieve them. Now, I might not always agree on the standards churches set and the goals they are trying to achieve, but I do agree that Jesus advocates this same type of passion and zeal for his followers.
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