The dictionary defines AntiChrist in different ways, but the one that makes me believe in the existence of the AntiChrist is this one:
“An opponent of Christ; a person or power antagonistic to Christ”
With that being defined, I don’t believe in a sole individual as The Antichrist, but the “power antagonistic” as an AntiChrist, that I do believe exists.
I recently reread a book called Love Wins by Rob Bell, and one part that gets to me again is the part of the book where he explains how there are times Christians misrepresent Jesus, he puts it this way;
“all that matters is how you respond to Jesus. And that answer totally resonates with me; it is about how you respond to Jesus. But it raises another important question: Which Jesus?
Renee Altson begins her book Stumbling Toward Faith with these words:
I grew up in an abusive household. Much of my abuse was spiritual—and when I say spiritual, I don’t mean new age, esoteric, random mumblings from half-Wiccan, hippie parents. . . . I mean that my father raped me while reciting the Lord’s Prayer. I mean that my father molested me while singing Christian hymns.
When one woman in our church invited her friend to come to one of our services, he asked her if it was a Christian church. She said yes, it was. He then told her about Christians in his village in eastern Europe who rounded up the Muslims in town and herded them into a building, where they opened fire on them with their machine guns and killed them all. He explained to her that he was a Muslim and had no interest in going to her Christian church.
In my life, if I am truly honest with myself, I have been sold that Jesus and I have sold that Jesus as well. Yet lately, and hopefully not trying to turn the tables so as to look holier-than-thou, one Jesus I’ve renounced mostly is the Christianity-in-the-80s Jesus.
While my time in the 80s was only for 5 years, in hindsight I’ve learned how when AIDS became more visible in the media’s eye in some churches eye it was seen as both a “gay disease” but also a “godsend” as if a disease that affects someone and has the possibility to kill that individual. Some were so callous and unChristlike they uttered phrases like “GAY should stand for Got AIDS Yet?” It is remarks like this and attitudes that some people “got what they deserve” … This isn’t the Jesus I believe in.
Then there was the prevailing perspective of “we’re in the end times” and that a rapture would take place and all Christians would be taken away while those left behind would have to endure suffering.
I think my parents bought into this, not as extreme as others, but there was talk prior to my birth about moving to Israel for related reasons. When it comes down to it, I am an amillennialist, I don’t believe in any of that pre tribulation or post tribulation…rather than answer the WHY question, this link sums up my thoughts succinctly. Part of the rapture beliefs some people held on led them to believe that any wars, say Palestine and Israel, should be allowed to run their course without any intervention; to allow people kill other people without giving a thought about the lives lost … That isn’t the Jesus I believe in.
Then there was the “Religious Right”, people trying to stake a claim to both Christianity and politics, people who made it seemed like that God endorsed whomever ran under the banner of Republican. It also irks me that the issues that have become the focus during election years are primarily in regards to abortion and the “sanctity of marriage” (that is, marriage for heterosexuals only); these aren’t the only issues that should be focused on, and yet somehow they’re the only issues that seem to be prioritized … This isn’t the Jesus I believe in.
While not across the entire body of Christ in the 1980s, the way some Christians (the out-loud-with-megaphones-and-television-channels) treated people who marginalized the LGBT community and drove them out of churches by force or by words, it makes me sick to my stomach and it makes me angry and sad. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion, he didn’t come so that there would come a day where people would be divided by those who professed to be his followers. The parable of the man who leaves his 99 sheep in pursuit of the 1 who is lost, that exemplifies who Jesus came for and for Christians to marginalize people and say horrible things about others … That isn’t the Jesus I believe in.
Then there were televangelists, oy vey, where do I begin? Saying things along the lines of “God won’t bless you if you don’t fund my ministry” and the money went to private planes, big houses, prostitutes, etc. I don’t get how people didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of their bullshitting, that the money wasn’t going to these ministries but by these wolves in pastor’s clothing. For so-called pastors who manipulated individuals to fund what they wanted … That isn’t the Jesus I believe in.
But there were Christians who “got it”, who loved on the marginalized – Tammy Faye Bakker interviewed Steve Pieters, a gay minister who had AIDS…she loved on him when others looked down upon him with disgust. In current times I see the influence Tammy had on her son Jay, a pastor himself whom I admire greatly. There were others who lived a life of loving others as Christ loves us, and when Christians actually “get it” and live for God and serve him by serving others, and taking care of the ones society may kick to their curb because of their race/sexual orientation/creed/etc, the ones who are the “least of these” around the world … That is the Jesus I believe in.