Sunday, April 8, 2012

Are Christians self satisfied?

Are Christians self satisfied?  A while ago I would have said no but now I think maybe we are.  And I wonder if that is how people see me?  Or maybe, that is the truth about me. 

Today it is Easter Sunday also known at Resurrection Sunday.  Its the day Christians around the world celebrate Jesus resurrection from death. 

This day means different things to different people.  I had a look on Yahoo Answers and some said it means chocolate, a day off work, extra work at their restaurant, annoyance at the loud church across the road and a couple said annoying self satisfied Christians.

You would think it was the opposite. You'd like to think it as the opposite.  The very people who are called to care for the poor, to love and treat everyone equally and to walk humbly with God are seen as self satisfied.

To he honest, I'm pretty sure some of the Christians in the western world might very well find themselves self satisfied, as we  have a tendency to think that we have it all together because we have Jesus. We puff our chests out and hold our heads high because we made 'the decision' to follow Jesus and if we can quote the Bible back to front, why shouldn't we pat ourselves on the back?  Have we  forgotten the only reason we can do any of it is because God loved us first?  He is the one who opened our eyes about Jesus.  He is the one who helps us each day to follow Jesus.  He is the one who brings to mind which verses of the Bible relate to each particular moment.  We commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and we have forgotten the truth that it is only through the blood of Christ we can do anything.

Recently a Christian friend on Facebook (whom I will call 'S') posted a link The Best Case For the Bible NOT Condemning Homosexuality by John Shore, which I thought was very interesting.  

“Compassion for others is the cornerstone of Christian ethics. The Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith. God would never ask or expect Christians to choose between the two.”

God does not ask us to choose between compassion and faith in the Bible.

Christians are increasingly divided over the issue of the acceptance and inclusion of gay persons into the church. The debate itself is usually framed as essentially pittingthe Bible, on one hand, against compassion and social justice on the other. Our Christian hearts, runs the (usually impassioned) argument, compel us to grantfull moral and legal equality to gay and lesbian people; our Christian faith, comes the (usually impassioned) rebuttal, compels us to cleave, above all,
to the word of God.

I read through the article and then I shared it on my Facebook wall. Several hours later, when I went back to Facebook,  I found one positive comment by a non church goer and a comment by someone who said that I should read the comments he made on the Facebook wall of 'S'.  I went to his wall and under the article was a whole list of negative comments and a smattering of positive comments, mostly from non Christians, non church goers and the mother of 'S'   Of course, the negative comments were couched in 'christianese' and loving  statements.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. 

After reading the comments, I would understand why we are seen as annoying and self seeking.  

For hundreds of years churchgoers have been repeating the same things the church has taught without really thinking about it any further or even deciding whether or not they believe it for themselves.  A few men have taken a handful of verses and gave them an 'iffy' translation and meaning to support their own viewpoints. To be truthful, anyone can take a couple of verses out of the Bible to support any of their viewpoints. For instance, if you were a mass murderer, you could use the verses about Samson taking a jawbone of an ass and killing a thousand men. 

Jesus would have walked and known people who are same sex attracted and yet not one condemning word against them is recorded in any of the gospels. In fact, the only people Jesus condemned where the Pharisees who heaped rules and condemnation upon the common people. Jesus said these Pharisees were 'white washed tombs'...clean and pretty on the outside but full of dead and rotting flesh inside. 

At Easter,  shouldn't we be focussing on what Jesus did for each of us on the cross instead of ripping into someone else because they live differently to us?   

How can we forget that with every stripe of the cruel whip that removed flesh from Jesus' back, God's condemnation was removed (Romans 8:1) ; with every thorn that was pressed into the flesh on Jesus' head  the weight of God's rejection has been removed (Zechariah 10:6)and with each strike of cruel nails into Jesus' hands, our names were forever tattooed into the palms of God (Isaiah 49:16).   How can He ever hate the ones for whom God sent His Son? 

I really did appreciate this article that 'S' has shared on Facebook. Whether you agree or not, that is not my problem. However, in the words of Jesus himself when, in John 21 when Peter asked about John's future said “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” In other words, stop sticky beaking into others business because that is between me and him, our business is between you and me.

Quite a few years ago I read an article and I can't remember who wrote it but he said that Christians are seen as people who get together and have meetings and complain about everything.  I guess its true in the most part but sometimes I am ashamed to be called a Christian when this is the way people see us..

To finish up, I would like to add the last word by 'S's mum which she posted at the end of all of the comments. I couldn't have put it better myself. 

To those who have been hurt by those who call themselves Christians, I apologise. I implore you to seek God and find out who HE is and not settle for the tarnished  reflection people sometimes give of him. God isn't like those people. If you have been treated badly by people , please don't attribute that to God, God is not like that. He loves you with an everlasting love. There is nothing you could do to make him love you more and there is nothing you can do to make him love you less. 
He offers you love, love and more love.

1 comment:

  1. Hear Hear Bev. I too am so heartbroken by comments made by people who say that they are Christians. I am now calling myself a Follower of Jesus , as the word Christian has so many negative connotations to it. It must break our Lords hearts to hear and see the judgmental and proud comments people who bear his name make. I am so thankful to him that he has led people like you into my life. I believe God is doing a new work within the hearts of his people.. he is turning our hearts to a people who do not know his love. As we draw close to him I believe that we get to feel his heart, our hearts break with his heart for a dying world.Thank you for always being authentic, for keeping it real. Jesus said that "by their fruit you will know them". If "christians" are not exhibiting love, joy, hope, peace, kindness ... they are not followers of Jesus. They have become religious and are like the Pharisees .
    In Matthew 23 it talks about them.. " Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. "

    and “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

    REMEMBER Jesus also said that the 'wheat and the weeds grow together" (Real followers of Jesus and religious people who do not know him)
    Matthew 13:30 "Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.'"

    O Lord, keep us humble.. keep us pliable to your correction and teaching. Help us to hear your voice as we seek your heart on every facet of our lives. Help us to be more like your Son Jesus each day and renew our minds by your fresh living water that continually washes it clean.
    Thank you for loving us and for removing the veil from our eyes, teach us and guide us until that glorious day when we see you face to face.