A pair of Christian-themed topics – a call for "#revival" and a blog post titled "Jesus Doesn't Love You Just The Way You Are" – captivated the attention of some Twitter users and became trending topics on Wednesday.
Granted, these topics appeared only as "tailored" trends and would have been seen primarily by Christians, but they still inspired a great deal of discussion among believers on the social networking site.
The controversial blog post was created by Zack Hunt, a Bristol, Conn., resident who is working on a History of Christianity degree at Yale Divinity School. At the beginning of the post, which appears on The American Jesus website, he reflects on a billboard he saw in Memphis, Tenn., several years ago. The billboard, which is located near Hunt's former home, is owned by a local megachurch and at one point said, "Jesus loves you just the way you are."
While many Christians agree with the billboard's statement, Hunt says he "couldn't think of a more un-Christian thing to say."
"If Jesus loves us just the way we are, then why bother with all that crucifixion mess? After all, if Jesus loves us just the way we are, then dying for our sins was just a terrible waste of time," he argues.
The suggestion that Jesus loves a person "as they are" makes him "irrelevant," Hunt later says. Jesus' goal is to transform people's lives, he says, so Jesus actually loves us "in spite of who we are."
"If Jesus loves the sinful people that we are, then grace, forgiveness, and salvation are not good news, they are irrelevant news," he wrote. "But if Jesus sees us for who we truly are, people ravaged by sin and consumed by selfish desires, yet chooses to not only love us, but to die for us anyway, then his grace, forgiveness, and salvation truly become good news and Jesus truly becomes one worthy of our love and worship."
Hunt's blog post sparked the Twitter trend, which was fueled by both the outrage of some and the support of others.
"Jesus Doesn't Love You Just The Way You Are=Heresy. He saves BECAUSE His love has, is, and always will be perfectly constant. Zack Hunt, no," said Marin Hann in a tweet. Several Twitter users also said Hunt's suggestion was a lie of the Devil.
Others, however, either defended or sought more clarity on Hunt's position. One person who commented on the blog under the name "Bridge" said Hunt's problem with the billboard may have been with the wording of its message.
"I think the issue you have is with the language – you are reading into the statement an assumption that Jesus accepts our sin and loves that too. But for most, the saying is shorthand for the longer phrase: Jesus loves you the way you are and too much to let you stay that way," wrote Bridge.
The topic of "#revival" also became a hot topic on Wednesday, and many Christians rallied together to keep it popular. Some of them even posted multiple messages on the topic in order to do so.
"God, many of Your children have grown cold & weary! Send a #revival Father!" tweeted Dominique Christian, who posted several messages using the hashtag.
"Here's to hoping #revival really is trending in this country and not just on Twitter," said Jamie Howard.