Beware of a scam. Much of what is portrayed as Christianity in America is bogus.

The values on the inside don’t match the label on the outside. False advertising is rampant.

All of which raises the question of where Americanized Christianity got off the trail.

How did so many — who claim to have Jesus in their hearts — lose their way? How could the aim be off so much as to completely miss the mark of seeking to live in the ways he so clearly revealed?

The answer is simple and singular and traceable.

The problem with a widespread version of “Christianity” — touted by showboating politicians with high profile preachers as their accomplices — that is sadly being soaked up and reflected among the masses (of often tender-hearted believers) has a common root.

This is it: Much of Americanized Christianity places its primary emphasis today on “believing the Bible” rather than on following Jesus.

This shift allows for misusing highly selective scriptures to justify any position one finds personally pleasing and beneficial to oneself — while ignoring the life and teachings of Jesus. This personal rendering of the Bible replaces the faithful following of Jesus — with all that he called his followers to be and do.

The evidence is clear. But if you want to argue with my conclusion, please try this first:

Search the Gospels thoroughly for the words of Jesus to see how often he told his followers to “believe the Bible” compared to his telling them to “follow me,” “love God and neighbor” and “fear not,” and to his offering other calls to live in sacrificial ways of service to others.

And see which of his teachings he deemed to be the most important — the greatest.

I’ll await your tally. And if you start interpreting Jesus by quoting biblical texts other than what he said and did — rather than the other way around — you’ve made my point.

Revealed so clearly now is that what the church told many of us were the primary shared values of our faith — rooted in Jesus — are now considered subservient to an opposing political ideology of self-interest and self-preservation. With this approach, Jesus is not lord.

Brian Williams (not the news guy) who theologizes on Twitter rightly noted: “Massive amounts of Christian theology is dedicated to using the rest of the Bible to make sure people don’t get carried away and start to try what Jesus suggested doing.”

Indeed, we hear a lot about getting carried away by Jesus. Missing is the primary call of the Gospels to get carried away with what Jesus said and did — and then doing those things ourselves.

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