Christians, as a mass of people, have forgotten how to love. We have become Pharisees. We judge, everyone, by how they look, act or make us feel when we see them. We do not approach the needy or the downtrodden. We do not help the widow or the orphan, and oh my!, not the prostitute or the drunkard. Why do people look elsewhere for help? Because the church has decided to implement an entrance exam; if you have any “undesirable traits”, you are automatically disqualified from entry. Oh you may get to sit and listen, but on the back row, in the shadows, hidden and easily dismissed. So the dismissed go back to their drugs, sex, alcohol and self-hate, trying to find some kind of peace, some kind of healing in all of the things that have made them broken in the first place. The problem is that they are finding more acceptance, more love and caring from the community of destitutes around them than from those that darken the doors of the church down the street each week.
Christ’s message has always been simple: Love God and love everyone else. But somehow we have gotten so hung up on the darkness in each soul that we have forgotten that we were called to bring them the light. It’s almost as if we are afraid that the darkness of another will cause our light to go out! Or perhaps we are reminded of our own sin and failures and would rather not go there.
The example of the American church has become so devoid of Christ that no one can see Him in us anymore. The American gospel says that if you go to church on Sunday, and, most importantly, look really good and speak really good and act really good while there, you will leave believing you are good. You will hear the gospel of self-help, self-prospering, God-loves-you-and-wants-you-to-be-happy; sing songs of self-worship and a human-centered God; then go about your week, never even opening your Bible or considering the Truth of the Gospel of Christ.
Because we have allowed the Truth of Christ’s gospel to fall to the wayside, the lie of “self-savior” has permeated the world. The broken and wounded world no longer looks to us to see what Truth and Love are because we look no different than they do. The lie of bigotry, hatred, self-reliance and self-love; the “we are better than you” mentality that has consumed every racial, political, religious, and dare I say, human group has poisoned us against each other. We no longer view someone of a different mindset or belief as another person. A living, breathing, image-bearer of God. Whether they even believe in God or not-each person on this earth is an image-bearer of the Creator of the universe! And we stand by while evil men treat children like property.
I am thankful that there are hundreds of individual churches across the US that do not hold to the American Dream of Christianity. I am thankful that there are still men of God who hold their Bibles in their hands as they preach from it and make the Gospel of Christ a priority. And in that priority, they challenge themselves, their families and their flock to be disciples and disciple-makers. I am thankful that they are striving to be always obedient, in the small things and in the big ones; and that their congregations follow their lead with gracious and loving hearts.
If we want to call ourselves Christians- literally “followers of Christ”-we need to take a hard look at the Christ we are claiming to follow.