I understand why the world doesn’t like Christians. Sometimes I don’t like us very much either.
Now before you get out the tar and feathers… none of us (Christians and non-Christians alike) are perfected yet. We all screw up royally – usually daily. Sometimes hourly. Some days I can’t seem to open my mouth without shoving my foot in it. We aren’t saved because we’re well-behaved, we’re saved because of the grace and mercy of our God who sent His Son to rescue us from destruction.
So it’s disconcerting when we go out and act
like even worse than the people we claim to “have one up on” in the race of life.
Fiction writers and movie directors have to create suspended disbelief” in their art… pulling you into the characters and the story far enough that you’ll shake off the fact that vampires not only don’t sparkle in the sunlight, they don’t even exist. But this isn’t fiction. And it isn’t a movie. People are desperate for something – anything – in which to place their hope and trust and faith. And when we tell them about God’s goodness, and then turn around and behave badly, it creates confusion.
I’m not talking about those “bad” behaviors the Christian community is so quick to point accusatory, condemning fingers at within our own ranks, like drinking, or smoking, or body piercing and tattoos, short skirts, sleeveless blouses, “mixed bathing” (Christian-ese for going to a public pool), listening to secular music, seeing an R-rated movie, long hair on men and short hair on women, dating, dancing, or driving above the speed limit. (Depending on your own flavor of religiosity, you can fill in the blanks here with your own particular set of taboos, because we all have ’em, like the N.C. church that likes to burn Bibles.)
What I am concerned about are the behaviors that are outright contradictions of the message of Jesus.
The greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.
or… “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Lately it seems many who profess to believe have become the ones doing the cursing (speaking evil of someone), the hating, the spiteful abusing and the persecuting.
It reminds me of a story in Luke 9…
“One day He sent messengers ahead to reserve rooms for them in a Samaritan village. But they were turned away! The people of the village refused to have anything to do with them because they were headed for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:52-53 TLB
The Samaritans and the Jews didn’t get along, and hadn’t for centuries. They turned away the disciples (and Jesus) much the same way African-Americans were turned away from places of business in the South. Today we call it discrimination. And when it comes against us, whether for our color or our gender or our age, we get ticked. So did the disciples. (Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since creation.)
“And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said,
‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.’“ Luke 9:54-55
Ouch. They were completely off base with their Master’s calling and vision, and Jesus told them so.
B-b-b-b-ut… we want to sputter, they have a RIGHT to be angry. Those nasty Samaritans are unrighteous, and they treated
us I mean, Jesus, like second-class citizens! We’re right, after all, and they are wrong!
I don’t think Jesus gave a rip about not being given a room in that village, but he did care about the heart condition of James and John. He cared about what was motivating them, because it wasn’t the same spirit that motivated Him. They were motivated by petty anger, revenge, and selfishness, all masked with a self-righteous glaze of defending the Master’s honor.
Jesus didn’t seem to think He needed defending.
Then, or now. What He does need us to do is show the love of God to a broken, defeated, hopeless humanity through our words, our attitudes, our actions, and our behavior.