Christianity is not a ‘nice’ religion
I heard a disturbing statistic today. Roughly one third of Christian pastors — clergy of various faiths, I assume — have a Christian worldview. Even one half would be shockingly low.
Listening to the sermons of many pastors, one walks away with the sense that one has heard a generic lecture, one that could just as easily have been given by a secular speaker, on the importance of being a “good” person. Christians should of course be nice whenever possible, but Christianity is not about becoming a nice person. Definitely not. Many churchgoers disagree with that.
In a retirement village I frequented, there were retired Catholic priests and nuns. I overheard an elderly nun, conversing with a priest, and she was respectfully reading him the riot act. She told him, not in these exact words, I’ve known you a long time, and I’ve never heard you say anything about God, Jesus, or the Bible. Do you even believe in those things? To my mind, she was the real Christian.
I used to watch a popular TV series that I thought was subtly promoting Christian values. I was eventually disappointed and stopped watching. In one scene, a married couple goes to the Protestant pastor for spiritual advice. In this and other instances, he never once mentioned sin, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, or the Resurrection. Time after time, the writers missed opportunities to insert the Christian message, however subliminally, into the script. In the last episode I ever watched, they were casually promoting the redefinition of marriage. I have since discontinued all cable TV services.
On the brighter side, I have noticed that a significant number of celebrities are indeed preaching the Gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus. One notable example is a former witch, Kat von D (Katherine von Drachenberg). Actress Kathy Ireland is another, and so is singer Alice Cooper. And do you remember Rifqa Bary, the formerly Muslim girl who risked her life to proclaim her newfound faith in Jesus? If this is the tip of the iceberg, there must be many more people, however obscure, who are responding to the urgings of the Holy Spirit.
Does this signal an unnoticed undercurrent that may become a tidal wave?
Even if it does, there is much work to be done by those of us who presently claim Christianity as our identity. This is because, however many churches are topped with crosses, and filled on Sundays with worshipers, there is an astonishing public ignorance of what Christianity is. That ignorance has subsumed far too many churches, many of which now conflate love of sinners (a good thing) with love of sin (an evil thing).
Sloganeering is not a substitute for information. “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven” is true, but I can remember the days when I would have missed what that catchphrase means. It took a great deal of patience by Christians to dispossess me of the idea that only “good” people are loved by God. Even after I discovered God’s unconditional love, I found that growing in faith is a lifelong journey. One crawls, then walks, before running.
The world in which we are now living, a world in which there is widespread and open hatred of Jews, God’s chosen people, is also a dangerous one for Christians. We will not long survive without an inner reservoir of strength that can come only from God.
The enemies of God hate us. They hate us with literally murderous rage, but we must understand that God loves them — even them whom we detest.
We may have to go to war to defeat them, but while doing that, we must also surrender to God, whose way are not our ways.
We begin by boldly preaching His message, and then living it.