Time Traveler: Hey Jesus, I know that this might be a bad time for you and all given that you just spent 40 days fasting and praying in the wilderness and made your way through three pretty tough temptations, but I was hoping we could chat a bit. Also, please be patient with my Aramaic. It took me a long time to convince Google to develop a Google Translate Aramaic program, and there still are some bugs to work out while using it on an iPhone.
Jesus: How did you know I have been in the desert for so long and that I have been tempted three times, why are you wearing such strange clothes, and what is a Google and an iPhone?
Time Traveler: I’ve read the Bible, I think my clothes are rather normal, and I am sorry but Google and iPhone don’t translate into Aramaic. That is beside the point. I have some things I really need to talk to you about that are pretty important.
Jesus: Is your clothing some new dress being worn by the Canaanites since I have been away so long in the desert? Are you here looking to be healed because if you are, you should know that I was only sent for the lost sheep of Israel. It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to…
Time Traveler: Jesus, save that line for later when you meet an actual Canaanite, but let’s focus please. We need to talk.
Jesus: You seem to have great faith in your quest to speak with me. What would you like to say to me?
Time Traveler: Thanks, I appreciate that Jesus. Look, I know you are about to start your public ministry right about now, but I think you should know a few things before you get started. You see, I’m from the future, like way in the future, almost 2000 years from today, and your followers, well um, a lot of them really suck. Sorry that’s not going to translate well – let’s just say that many of them have done some really bad things, and they have claimed to do these bad things in your name Jesus.
Jesus: But I am on my way out of the wilderness and I am getting ready to throw down some really good news about loving God and your neighbor, caring for the vulnerable, bringing justice to the oppressed, and even though I was just about to compare Canaanites to dogs, I am really planning to include everyone in this way of God’s love and justice. I even have a great story that I plan on telling about a Samaritan.
Time Traveler: I know Jesus, and it is a great story, but so many of your followers just don’t seem to get it.
Jesus: How could this good news that I am about to preach be taken in such a wrong way by so many as you say. I mean I am even planning to make this way of love, justice, peacemaking, and compassion very clear in a sermon I plan on giving. Not sure if I should give it on a mount or on a plain – maybe I will do both. Blessed are the…
Time Traveler: It is a great sermon Jesus! And both on the mount and the plain sounds great, but that does get a little confusing for some of your future followers. But my point is that so many of your future followers seem to go in the opposite direction of your most basic and direct teachings and have done some truly horrific things in your name after your death.
Jesus: What kinds of horrific things?
Time Traveler: Spoiler alert: well after your political execution by the Roman authorities, your followers started a new religion called Christianity because they believe you are Christ, and it spread pretty quickly throughout the Roman Empire by a dude that you don’t even meet before you die. Well, for a couple of hundred years this new religion, your followers, have to lie pretty low, and many have to meet literally underground at times because they were being persecuted by the same empire that killed you. But get this, in 313 CE – your followers would say AD, but I digress – a Roman emperor shows favor to the Christians and gives them their property back, helps them build buildings, and helps them squash heretics – those are people who have different beliefs about you than the official church backed by the state. Not long after that – you are not going to believe this Jesus – the empire makes Christianity the official religion of the Empire!
Jesus: So following the way of love and justice that I am about to teach becomes the official religion of the empire? And that is bad thing?
Time Traveler: Well Jesus, when the church (that’s what a lot of your future followers will call Christianity, and it is also what they call the buildings that they meet in – some of those buildings are over the top by the way, but I digress again) – but when the church gets wrapped up with the power of empire, it changes everything because their interests become intertwined. The church now has an interest in the preservation of the empire and even its expansion, and it uses the power of the empire to spread Christianity around the world – often by force, using the military might of empire.
Jesus: Followers of my teachings about the love and justice of God use force to spread a religion that they claim was founded by me and my teachings? What part of blessed are the peacemakers do they not understand. I even plan on making “blessed are the peacemakers” be a key line in that sermon I was telling you about.
Time Traveler: Yes Jesus, I know. It really is a great sermon, but what I am telling you about gets worse. The church ends up killing and torturing persons who don’t agree with its interpretation about how to follow you. They called it the Inquisition, and they even burned heretics alive! The church also supported great powers in the continent called Europe – by the way a continent is a, well never mind, but these empires of the future spread themselves forcibly all over the earth with the blessing and support of the church. Millions of people were killed and entire cultures were decimated by these Christian nations. The church even justified the owning of millions of persons as slaves all over the world.
Jesus: How could such lands call themselves Christian if that is a word that is meant to mean following my teachings of love and justice?
Time Traveler: I know right?! Well anyways, that is not all of it!
Jesus: Geez, you have to be joking!
Time Traveler: I wish I were, but no, there is actually much more. Some Christians in some nations supported evil leaders called fascists who used a racist form of Christian nationalism to promote the power of white people in the world – they even made paintings of you that make it look as if you are white – some with blue eyes and blond hair even. These fascists killed over six million of your people – the Jewish people! And before that and up to this day, “Christian” nations have been warring with another religion called Islam that came into being over 500 years after you die. The Christians even fought wars with each other! Millions upon millions of persons have died in these conflicts.
Jesus: But my way is a way of love, a way of peace. I would not even let a follower of mine pick up a sword to defend me much less support destroying entire peoples, taking their land, and killing the descendants of my own people or any people!
Time Traveler: And in the time I come from, many people in the church are oppressing persons for their sexual orientation and gender identities, continuing to vilify persons who follow Islam, turning away refugees, and supporting authoritarian and white supremacist movements all over the world. Many of them are also supporting ways of being in the world that are destroying many forms of life on Earth. Noah’s ark could be a lot smaller during my time because of all we are doing to destroy life on earth. We are even making the earth warmer than it has ever been since human civilization has been around, and many Christians are either in denial or even directly supporting ways of being in the world that are contributing to the destruction of life and a radical change in the climate. Many of them won’t even get vaccinated, wear masks, or take other basic mitigation measures during a pubic health emergency, all in the name of religious freedom… Jesus, where are you going? I am still taking to you.
Jesus: Enough! I have heard enough! Where are some good tables to flip over when you need them?!
Time Traveler: But where are you going Jesus?
Jesus: I am going back to the desert.
Time Traveler: Okay, I understand, but I am thinking that this little conversation might have led to a pretty significant disruption in the space/time continuum, so I am afraid you might be stuck with me.
Jesus: Come with me to the desert then and join me in fasting and prayer that all of these things you have told me might never come to pass.
Time Traveler: Sounds good, but I am about to lose my charge on my iPhone. Think that is something you might be able to help me out with Jesus? Just sayin’.