Jesus-followers and Racist-fish

by Jim on 21 June 2007

During the past couple of weeks at school, our teacher has asked us to bring articles each day to discuss.  Each week, our teacher has also had us go through an article.  As you may imagine, this leads to some interesting discussions.

This week we’ve been talking about an article by Octavio Paz.  Today we were discussing topics such as different concepts of death (between the Aztecs and the Roman Catholic Church from Spain), the Pope’s views on abortion and contraceptives, and the Roman Catholic view of sin.

Today I brought an article about what it means to follow Christ (see the actual article here).  I gave a summary of the article, and made the point that various people have various ideas about what it means to be a Jesus-follower.  Even the "church" (whatever you might mean by the word) may tell you what it means.  But it’s a good idea to go back to the source – what does Jesus Himself say about following Him?

Then it came time for the others in the class to express their opinions.  It’s like there’s a brain short circuit when people try to differentiate between Jesus, or the Bible, and the "church".  Right away we were talking about problems with the "church", when my whole point was that there may be a difference between what the church says and what Jesus says.

Church in Chihuahua, Mexico
Photo courtesy of Sam Meztli

One girl said that she believed in God, but that at the same time it was really only an imaginary thing.  Others said they agreed with the fundamentals of the church, but that church itself wasn’t for them.  Someone else said that church was a place for them to get together with family and friends.

But it was really interesting what our teacher had to say.  He talked about problems when the Roman Catholic Church has had too much power in society (he related it to fascism).  Then he talked about people who had the fish symbol on their car, or on the sign for their business.  He felt that the symbol was a sign of racism, because "those people" feel they are the world’s only "good people".

What would you do if a fascist-racist tried to share their beliefs with you?

Our teacher’s ideas really aren’t unusual, from what I can tell.  Mexicans actually have a historic problem.  In the past, the Roman Catholic Church has had a lot of power in Mexico.  When that political power was taken away from the RC Church, many people (even religious people) felt it was a good thing.  So when Jesus makes these radical statements – like giving up your life and obeying His commandments, people have trouble separating that from the institutional political power that the RC Church had.  Church, the thinking goes, is better controlled by the individual, but should not control the individual.

Of course, being a disciple of Christ is not the same thing as giving political power to an institution.  But it’s a hard thing to separate all these things in people’s minds.  Especially when there’s so much history and so many preconceived ideas packed up in the word "church".  The Church really isn’t about a man-made institution; it’s the assembly of imperfect people who have experienced the grace of God; people that follow Jesus, and point others to Him.

I pray that we can do that, and see the Spirit do miracles in people’s minds and hearts.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan June 22, 2007 at 8:13 am

What a cool opportunity you have there, Jim. It sounds like a great class. 🙂

Jim June 23, 2007 at 7:15 am

Yes, it was an interesting couple of weeks. There were certainly some interesting things said. I hope I said a few interesting things myself! 😉

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