Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Christian Label

In the beginning, back in the years after Christ's life, his followers were called Christians. The first Christians were generally small groups who met in each others homes to pray and share the letters they received from believers such as Peter, Paul, and Timothy. Paul in particular was a prolific writer, I suspect, because he spent a lot of time in jail.

Time passed and the term 'Christian' evolved. Churches expanded and anyone who attended the non-pagan, non-Jewish, non-anything else churches were called Christians. As happens when a group is more than about ten people, bureaucracy develops. Soon you have committees and bishops and folks who just generally believe they should be in charge. The entire bureaucracy is ritualized and bamm! You have something that is far, far removed from its origins.

Of course, the further from the origins, the more things changed. Soon little splinter groups broke from the main group because they had different notions about what people should believe and how they should act. But, they all still called themselves Christians because their base line belief was the same--Jesus died on the cross--though the actual overall implications might be viewed differently.

That's pretty much how things went up until today. Most folk had a relatively clear idea of what a 'Christian' was. Christians went to church on Sunday (and maybe Wednesday evening) and sang hymns and listened to preachers warn them about Hell. Outwardly, they were a quiet, well-behaved bunch.

Then the activist Christian emerged and the truth was revealed.

Now, I will point out that I, as a Baptist preacher's kid, grew up in a Christian home and church. I played the piano for church services, taught Sunday School classes, and even served for a while as a Sunday School superintendent. So I believe I can have an opinion.

When I was a child, it never occurred to me to question what I believed. That was just the way things were. But as an adult, I took another look at the beliefs espoused by the church as opposed to the way my fellow Christians behaved. Something was not right. Surely, modern Christianity was not what Christ taught during his lifetime.

The Bible--the book Christians wave as their authority--is available in just about every possible language. Therefore, I must assume most Christians don't read it. In John 13:34-35, Jesus himself lays out the definition of a Christian. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love on another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Hmmmm.

So, I don't see anything there about activism or telling other people how to live their lives. There's nothing there about getting involved in politics or protesting on the street corners. Nothing about bullying the less fortunate or making fun of the poor. Nope. There's nothing about attending church or feeling superior because one church is better than the other. There's certainly nothing about killing folks in the name of Jesus Christ.

Love one another.

Unfortunately, the term Christian has nothing to do with that. Folks bandy the term around like it's some shield against having to obey the law. Some think it gives them the right to tell other folks how to live. Others think it means they're better than their neighbors who have different colored skin. I don't blame those who sneer at Christians because of their blatant greed or power grabbing in the name of their religion.

I'm just disgusted. If that's what Christianity is all about, I sure don't want anyone to mistake me for one of them. Have I lost my faith?

No.

Do I still believe in God and Jesus?

Absolutely.

But I've decided if someone asks me what I am, I'm going to tell them I'm a Lover. I'm a person who advocates care and compassion. No preaching. No politicking. Just love for one another, especially the poor and hungry and sick.



4 comments:

  1. This blog is absolutely, incredibly, on point for the county in which I now live. The commissioners here spend more time arguing over who will say the opening prayer and to which deity it will be said than they do enacting legislation.

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    1. Thank you for writing! Unfortunately, the same is true for the USA.

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  2. Thank you for saying this. I'm no longer a Christian, but I respect those who actually behave as Jesus taught. You sound like that kind of person. Part of my "loss of religious faith" came about because of the people I call "front pewers." They sit in the front pew on Sunday and knife their neighbor in the back on Monday. I have no respect for people like that who claim to be Christian. Those folks don't realize that Jesus was in fact a liberal, Semitic Jew, with dark eyes and dark skin. He stood for the poor, the sick and the less fortunate. He hung out with hookers and lepers. He fought the rich and those who defiled the Temple by buying and selling and collecting taxes there. Jesus was a kick ass dude. Many modern day Christians would be appalled by that guy. It's kinda sad. Climbing down off my little soap box. I'll be quiet now. :-)

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Francesca! I suspect you are absolutely correct. If Jesus came back today, he wouldn't be very welcome!

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