The Greatest Defense

This is a blog I wrote last summer.  Just thought I’d repost it here…

 

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” -Ghandi

If you read any apologetic Christian literature, it will sometimes deal with the issue of past Christian decisions regarding the history of the Christian church and its brutal slayings of millions of people. Looking at the choices of the church to kill those people who disagreed that the earth was flat is a prime example of poor decisions of Christians.

In my summer adventure of reading, I grabbed a copy of What’s So Amazing About Grace written byPhillip Yancey. This book really messed with me. Throughout the book, Yancey basically sets up the thoughts of God’s grace in comparison to our lives.

It’s interesting in my viewpoint that Christ’s greatest commandment was to love God, and likewise to love people. We hear these messages from the pulpit all the time, yet I wonder how deep they actually penetrate our hearts. We hear that we are to love our neighbor. We hear that our neighbor is everyone. But again, doesn’t Christianity reflect otherwise?

Living on the campus of a Bible college basically allows me to see Christianity at its best. Some of the people who write Christianity all over their names, and claim ministry is in their future, are some of the most unloving people in the world. Who are these people I am talking about? These people are me. It is very easy for me to point out who is doing these wrong things, but I’ve recognized, I am one of the most unloving people in the world. 

This summer has made me realize that there are people in the world who are not Christians. There are atheists, agnostics, Mormons, Muslims, Buhdists, wiccans, pagans, and so many more. Within Christianity, there is a rise in Christians who believe that God didn’t create the world in a literal 7 days, but instead that he used macroevolution as His source for all of life. When I hear all of these other views, I clench my fists and write these people off as being ignorant, uneducated people who don’t deserve the love of God. But like Jacob Riggs said in his blog people are paying attention. 

Most of us have been raised in Christian homes. We have tunnel vision when it comes to the world. When the statistics state that some 75% of America is Christians, we think they are all evangelical, inerrant word of God believing Christians. But the truth is, of this 75%, we have to realize a small percent of them believe the same as us. A small percent of them are evangelical Christians. A small percent of them attend church regularly and actually live life’s that reflect Christ. The smallest percent of them live like Christ every day. I’m not even in that smallest percent.

How do we reach this world outside of the small percent of evangelical Christians? Love. It’s essential. This summer I’ve watched a few movies, which I do not necessarily recommend, yet they prove my point. Freedom Writers with Hillary Swank deals with a group of students who are all involved in gang-life. Being from small town Tennessee, I’ve never experienced gangs, but I do know that they are notorious for being a bit violent. So here she walks in some stranger and is able to turn these student’s lives upside down, simply by dedicating her life to them and showing them the love that they had always longed for. Secondly, Gridiron Gang starring Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson tells the story of a group of juvenile delinquents who, through love, gain a life that gives more promise. It’s funny to me that God is never mentioned in these movies as being a source of a changed life. Doesn’t it seem to me that by showing Christ’s love, we are even more capable of bringing about change in someone’s life?

I am reminded of the story of Beth Moore. As she was sitting in the airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, she noticed an old man in a wheelchair. The old man did not fit the profile of someone who you would necessarily want to be around. She said she felt God tell her to go brush his hair. “How odd?” is what I think to myself. She went and essentially had to scream into his ear, “Sir may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?” As everyone in the airport stared at her, she began to simply brush this old man’s dirty hair. As she combed, she had this to say about this experience, “I know this sounds strange, but I’ve never felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with all my heart – for that few minutes – felt a portion of the very love of God. That he had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a room and making Himself at home for a short while. The emotions were so strong and so pure that I knew they had to be God’s.” 

Or what about Jim Elliot, who died in the name of Christ so that someone could come to know the love of Christ. Or what about William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army ministries, who has basically

Jim Eliot

Jim Eliot

been able to share the love of Christ to those “lowest” individuals simply by feeding them and giving them clothes. Why can’t I have that love? Why can’t the church today have that love? Why have there been more negative effects from Christianity in the eyes of the world than positive? When you ask an atheist, agnostic, Wiccan, etc, their view of the church, they see it as a group of people who come together to socialize, and for the most part, I agree with them.

What have I done lately? Whose hair have I combed lately? Who did I share the love of Christ with? Who did I feed? Who did I clothe? Why haven’t I done this? 

Why is it that the church has been viewed as hating homosexuals? I mean, for the most part, that is true. I know that I have said, “I don’t hate homosexuals, I just hate homosexuality.” Phillip Yancey puts me to shame as he has a homosexual friend with whom he is very close. His friend knows that Yancey doesn’t support his lifestyle, yet Yancey still chooses to love him instead of abandon him. This makes many people uncomfortable. Yes, I am supposed to have morals and lead others to truth, but even Jesus sat with those who were involved in the “worst sins” of the day. 

With homosexuals, the Christian community has treated them like lepers. We have cast them out of the community. We basically tell them that whenever they are clean, they can come back into the community, but until then, they must stand outside the gates of the city, just waiting for someone to come and help them. Maybe it’s not just homosexuals. Maybe it’s those people in the church who have been divorced. Maybe it’s those teenagers who have had sex and gotten pregnant. Maybe it’s that lower-class family who doesn’t dress nice enough to enter the doors of our church. Essentially, I think a lot of Christianity has become a people-pleasing institution. We have defined what it means to be a Christian based on our own comforts. Legalism in my eyes used to be those people who say King James Version is the only Bible to use, and that if I don’t wear the right clothes to church then my salvation is in question. But, what about the fact that I feel that the kids I have grown up in youth group with who no longer go to church, and instead live their lives at parties and doing things they know are wrong, are suddenly no longer worth the time the church could spend on them. I’ve looked at them with disgust before. I’ve cast them away from the church. I’ve said to myself, “They know what is the right thing to do. If they don’t do it, then God have mercy on their soul.” I’m not the only Christian who does this, or something that is the equivalent of such behavior.

In the end, we are called to love. But at what point have we as Christians missed this target? Why is it so hard to love? Why do we more or less build our own comfortable Christian churches and not allow those who don’t fit the mold to come in? Can we not learn from the examples before us, primarily Christ, that love is the key that unlocks the doors to every heart? 

I’ll close with this. In Acts 9, as Saul (later Paul) is on the road to Damascus, a bright light blinds him as he is confronted by Christ. Paul asks, “Who are you, Lord?” in verse 5. The response is astonishing as it says, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” We all know Paul made it a profession of persecuting Christians. Christ identifies himself as being persecuted. My point? Christ says he was being persecuted as the Christians were being persecuted. We are Christ to the world. 

This week, whose hair are you going to comb? Who will you feed? Who will you clothe? For me, I just hope I remember the spirit that I have now. Too many times it’s easy for us to speak about the things that we need to do, and yet we never do them. These have been my thoughts lately. Love conquers all things. Love is the answer. It’s so cliché, but honestly, love wins. Love.

In essence, I guess the easiest thing to say is that love is the greatest defense of the Christian faith we can have. When Christians begin to love and show love instead of intolerance, people will ask what is the difference in our lives. At this point, love has become the greatest apologetic piece known to man. 

Love.

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