He is a soul-saving mascot — a selectively dispensed “get out of hell free” card.

His name is repeated (and repeated and repeated) in praise songs; yet his example and teachings are largely dismissed when in conflict with fears and self-interest.

He’s worshipped with passion — but his compassion reaches too far.

His name is adored, but his ways are often ignored — because, well, adoration is easier than emulation.

His call to seek first an upside-down divine kingdom is drowned out by authoritarian demands for ideological conformity to protect the status quo.

His appeals to “proclaim release to captives” and to “set free the oppressed” are treated as unrealistic and inapplicable.

Loving neighbors in a fully inclusive sense is considered a step too far — if considered at all.

His uncomfortable truths are passed over for more comfortable, though disprovable, untruths — flowing from fear-fueling media and pulpit gabblers who distort his clearest message and values for their own benefit.

His social-breaking encounters — with a disreputable Samaritan woman, dishonest tax collectors and a late-confessing thief — are regarded as nice little Bible stories, although similar acts of inclusion, affirmation and forgiveness today bring more condemnation than commendation.

When expressed today, his wide and deep concern and care for others — including “the least of these” — are dismissed as underserving and enabling giveaways, and scary steps toward socialism.

His summons to “Follow me” leads to baptisteries but not often beyond bigotries.

His boundary-less kingdom is conflated with and confused by an overriding nationalistic zeal that values a few over the many.

His words “Do not worry about tomorrow” are read, but don’t overcome the anxiety produced by social change that empowers those who look and believe differently.

His name is displayed — along with the symbol of his death — in support of hate-driven, violent causes he would not own.

He is recruited in defense of discrimination against those he never rejected if spoken of at all.

His unlimited love is restricted by human-made doctrines, selective legalism and harsh politics turned into instruments of favor and control.

You can find him in churches, at political rallies and even riots, and in many other venues all across the nation. Just not in the gospels.

Meet the popular and conveniently contrived Christ of Americanized Christianity.

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