The dominant impression of Christians conveyed in popular media isn’t very flattering. They are often represented as mindlessly dogmatic, harshly judgmental, and openly antagonistic toward those who don’t share their view of things. This impression can be challenged, of course. It is typically the most extreme examples who grab our attention, and Christians come in many varieties.
When I was a young boy, I asked my parents about the biblical teaching not to judge others. I think that I was puzzled because I regularly observed plenty of judgment from people in the church. They had firm beliefs that particular actions were wrong, and they weren’t at all reluctant to pronounce the people who did these things guilty.
In contrast to the common response of retaliating against those who have wronged you, Jesus urged his followers to forgive. In contrast with loving your friends and hating your enemies, he told his disciples to love their enemies. Needless to say, most people, including most people who say they are Christians, do not live that way.
One of the central reasons that Jesus was criticized by the religious elite of his day was his willingness to welcome people who fell outside their circle of respectability. Jesus associated with the common people who didn’t have the time or resources to devote themselves to studying and observing scriptural prescriptions of proper behavior.
In this “upside down” kingdom Jesus announces that one achieves greatness not by advancing to the top of the social hierarchy, but by acts of service to the community. Given this kind of message, it is not surprising that the wealthy and privileged of Jewish society opposed Jesus and ultimately killed him.