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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blessed Are The Sheep, Not The Wolves

I have been meaning to write this post for a few weeks, and I'm very glad I waited.  There are two tenets of Christianity that have become empty platitudes.  The golden rule, and the greatest commandment.
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
Notice how our Lord says, on both accounts, that the entire Law and all the Prophets are summed up by with these statements?  The troubling part is how little I believe we actually live by these as a church.  It is easy to make these statements cliches and platitudes, which they have become.  This seems to be, from a simple reading of the text, the antithesis of what our Lord meant when he said them. The Law and Prophets is summed up by these, and we take them with a grain of salt.  We have a great tendency to profane the holy, to make common the sanctified.  We do this every day in our speech and our deeds.  The fact that we ignore the magnitude of these commands and do not take them seriously is evidenced by the state of our churches (though I suspect I am not alone in thinking that an honest account of our own lives will show us just how lightly we take these statements).  I write these words knowing full well that I can agree with Paul that I am the chief among sinners and with Isaiah who said when confronted with a holy God was undone and utterly profane.

This hypocrisy hit me between the eyes when I came across a blog linked by an unbeliever on facebook.  The name of the blog was interestingly enough "Christians For A Moral America".  A brief overview of the blog is as follows: anti-liberal, anti-atheist, anti-homosexual, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist, pro-war, and pro-Santorum.  (To explain the pro-war and pro-Santorum bit here is a good sentence to sum that up: "We must elect a President who will take action against these Islamic extremists and wipe Iran off the map. That man is Rick Santorum.")  While I find it amusingly ignorant and stupid, one of the articles made me very upset and deeply saddened to know the name of Christ was attached to it.

The reason this upsets me is quite simple.  It turns the command of Christ on it's head and makes those we are to love and evangelize those that we push away hate and ostracize.  One does not have to justify homosexuality by being appalled by the imagery employed by the phrase "Gaystapo".  What frustrates me more is the ignorance of the author by building a case about the persecution of the "gays" and "liberals" against the church by using radical examples.  Are there homosexuals who would sue a church in order to force them to have a marriage ceremony for a gay couple?  Sure.  Does that mean such an action is the default and normative case?  No.  Now for a counter example to turn the tables.  If you want to find example of the "anti-Gay agenda", one doesn't have to look to far to find religious nuts.  One effort to fight the "gay agenda" is simply to ban the words associated with it.  Then of course there is the infamous Westboro Baptist Church with their "God Hates Fags" protests.  Then of course there are acts of violence against gay couples, sadly endorsed by pastors.  Why do I bring up these examples?  Simple.  There are plenty of examples that one could find to argue against the church and it's "anti-gay agenda" using the very same logic that the blog used to construct the "gay agenda".  Do I think any of these 3 examples of crazy Christians are the normative case?  No.  But the fact is, they do exist.

As Christians we are called to show forth the glory of God.  We are to imitators of God.  While we were sinners Christ died for us.  Christ condescended to earth to redeem those who profaned his name.  This is our calling, and this is how we are to live.  There is a sick hypocrisy when one uses the transformation of the gospel in their lives as a launching pad to go and actively hate their neighbor.  There is no love among a people like this.  This is one of the most crucial reasons why I believe the golden rule needs to saturate the Christian life.  If we treated others as we would want to be treated, we would have a much different view of the world.  Too often I believe we are quick to treat others as we believe they have treated us, which turns the commandment on it's head.

We should not be a people who are quick to construct an entire argument using only particular examples.  Is being the champion against the "gaystapo" really the ultimate goal of Christ's bride?  Does the phrase "gaystapo" do anything productive?  Gay people are Nazis?  Sure there are crazy gay activists...there are also crazy Christian activists.  Chances are you know some gay people, and in my experience, and the experience of many others, they are often some of the nicest and most considerate of people that you will come across.  Do most of them care if church X, Y, and Z won't marry them?  Probably not.  To make a federal case out of the issue not only paints the picture using a broad brush but it leads to a Christless animosity toward our neighbor, those we are called to love.  If the church was productive in loving our neighbor instead of building up a martyr complex, then the church might be surprised by the tolerance shown to it by it's "enemies".

The Church is the bride of Christ.  When we realize that we reflect the glory of God to the world and that we are the royal image bearers that are responsible to shine forth the glory of God, when we realize and understand the gospel of grace and the law of love, when we realize that we are sinners ourselves and it is nothing but the gospel and efficacious love of God that calls us unto salvation, then and only then will we start to love our enemies as Christ loved his.  Only then will we be the radiant bride that Christ delights in.  It glorifies the name of Christ more when lay your life down for a sinner than it does when you take the life of a sinner.  Blessed are the sheep, not the wolves.

1 comment:

  1. To see some in the visible church expel such hate towards their neighbors makes me wonder if they are actually part of the invisible church at all.