To Blame

Jesus is to blame!

He’s our most socially acceptable punching bag. You try it: pick a social issue, work out which position is unfashionable, and then show how it’s the fault of the church/the religious people/that Jesus who started it all.

The beauty of the game is that you win every time – even if fashions change!

Take the environment for example. Are we destroying the planet? Well, in that case, it comes from the irresponsible human-centred view of creation passed down to us from the book of Genesis. Society isn’t concerned enough about global warming? That’s because Jesus said he’d be inviting his friends to abandon ship and head off to heaven, so they don’t care.

Are we not progressing fast enough with our medical technology? Blame those bleeding heart Christians who keep holding scientists back with out-dated ethical arguments. See how easy it is?

There’s a couple of reasons why the blame is so easily laid on Jesus. The first, sadly, is that far too often his followers are guilty as charged. Jesus may have laid out a compelling moral vision for human society, but none of his fans seems able to achieve it. Some of them fall far short.

Secondly, it’s undeniable that Jesus has managed to get his fingers into just about every pie. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that his influence on the world is second to none. Toss in a couple of thousand years of people debating over his teachings, and it’s no surprise that he can be enlisted in support of all kinds of ideas.

Sometimes Christians will get upset when they feel Jesus is copping it unfairly. Regardless of whether they have a point or not, there’s a good chance that we’re all missing the point.

Jesus didn’t just expect to be blamed; he wanted it. Not because he had self-esteem issues, but because his goal was to take all the blame in the world.

None of us likes to be accused. If we’re innocent, it’s unfair, and even if we’re guilty, we shy away from the blame because we know it precedes the punishment. That’s why we like blaming others. If it’s their fault, we are safe. And being safe feels very right to us.

So we look for a scapegoat!

And we find not only that the Bible coined that term ‘scapegoat’ (e.g. see Leviticus 16:10 in the Bible). But it did so to point to Jesus, the only one who can take the blame, and make our wrongs right (e.g. see Hebrews 9:13-14).

So is Jesus to blame? He certainly acted as The Scapegoat for people like you and me.

Anthony Douglas now assists the Bishop of Wollongong, and was the Minister at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Shoalhaven Heads.

Anthony Douglas