while we were in Africa we read about The Lord's Resistance Army. It was probably one of the most horrible and disturbing things i've ever read. The LRA apparently is a rebel army in northern Uganda. They brainwash and use children to commit horrible inhumane offences. They are psychological conditioned to think perverted violence is a normal part of manhood and are severely beaten or killed if they don't do what they're told. Children are told to pray to the Holy Spirit for courage to commit vile and evil acts (including raping and murdering younger family members) and it's all done in the name of Jesus.
unfortunately i have a vivid imaginations and after reading about this i spent the next few weeks imagining what it must be like to be a kid today in the LRA.
imagine a 12 year old kid who has been exposed to the brain washing but the LRA hasn't quite killed his spirit yet and somewhere in his heart he's knows it's wrong. he has seen some of his little buddies severely beaten for not following orders and is deeply afraid this will happen to him. and then one day one of the bosses comes along and tells him he has to commit some horrible offence against someone he knows. The kid is told to pray to the Holy Spirit for courage to be a man and they will be leaving in an hour to go and bring justice in the name of Jesus.
The kid is deeply afraid and goes of to his room to get his gun. He wants to be a man. He wants the admiration and respect the older boys get from being brave. He prays to Jesus to help him follow his orders. He takes out his gun and imagines what the people will look like as he shoots them. His stomach turns. His spirit cringes. He weighs up his options. If he refuses he'll be beaten or killed. If he runs away he'll probably starve in the desert.
one of his boss's comes in and tells him to pick up his gun. the kid doesn't move. the boss moves closer and raises his voice 'Jesus is Lord. Pick up your gun'. the kid is absolutely terrified but follows his heart, 'I hate Jesus' he yells and tries to make a run for it...
this scenario doesn't fit my theology. in fact it exposes some gaping holes in it.
can someone follow Christ without actually knowing it?
can someone hate everything they know about Christianity and still usher in the Kingdom of God?
can someone deny Christ with their words but actually be a true disciple of Him in their life?
how much is it about language and labels?
i know this scenario seems very extreme to us. the 'Jesus' presented to this kid was obviously a perverted version.
are we capable of presenting a perverted 'Jesus' in milder ways?...
God is Good.
God is Love.
maybe following goodness and love is enough?