Adherents of any faith should be conscious of how they portray their belief system to the outside world. I am constantly concerned about how Christianity, specifically conservative, evangelical Christianity, is being demonstrated by us, the followers.
I began thinking about the issues that define Christians for nonbelievers and I was saddened by the list that formed in my mind. To address those concerns, I came up with some possible reevaluations for Christianity, the Blogdom-of-God and myself.
This is not intended as a rebuke for posting on certain issues. I post on most, if not all, of the issues I mention. However, sometimes we get caught up and forget the reason why we are here.
Having no authority, not much of a platform and no real desire to do so, “commandments” from me make no real sense. So with an abundance of humility, I offer my 10 suggestions:
10. Stop with the extremes on the environment. It is possible to have a position in between “Rape and pillage the earth” and “Save the animals, screw the humans.” One does not have to sell out completely for the theory of global warming in order to view Earth as something to be cared for and to be stewarded by humans. It is also not required for Evangelicals to support drilling for oil on every piece of protected land. There must be a balance here for Christians.
9. Worry more about living the 10 commandments, instead of displaying them. Quick, name all 10 Commandments and give their location in the Bible. If you are like most Christians, you have a hard time passing that simple test. Yet, for people with such ignorance about a topic, we have managed to display some passionate outrage over their removal from public places. In my opinion the displays do not violate the Constitution, but living our lives contrary to Jesus’ spirit of the laws is a violation of Christianity. (Click here for the answers to the commandment quiz.)
8. Trust God, not money or slogans. This is very similar to #8. Christians are intensely concerned about keeping “In God We Trust” on our money, but most seem less concerned about actually trusting God instead of money. As a Christians, when was the last time you gave God “the widow’s mite.” Unfortunately, too many Christians will spend beyond their means to get a bigger house or a nicer car, but find it conveniently difficult to give God much of anything – a tithe at best. Our actions speak much differently than our words. Our actions say we really don’t care what’s on the money as long as we can spend it however we want.
7. Focus more on teaching your own child about creation. Christian parents are lazy. I know because I am one. We would rather send our child to church and have Sunday School teachers tell them about Jesus. Now we would rather send our child to school and have science teachers tell them about creation. I am actually a supporter of teaching Intelligent Design in schools – advocating the “teach the controversy” approach. However, too many Christian parents are fighting evolution because they do not want to spend the time instructing their own children. It would take a good deal of work to learn about the issues and then teach them to your child. Why not just pass that off to someone else?
6. Stop hating Hollywood. So the vast majority of Hollywood has horrible values and virtually every movie forces a humanistic worldview down the viewer’s throat. Why is it that a nation full of Christians flocks to the same movies we protest? If you want to have a real impact on what comes out of Hollywood, put down your petition pin and pick up your pocketbook. Money is the language Hollywood executives understand. So unless Christians stop going to offensive movies and start supporting positive movies, we don’t stand much of a chance changing the average Hollywood fare. And yes, supporting positive movies is part of the equation. Sitting on the outside and blasting every non-Passion movie will not get anything done.
5. Move past the media. Just because Katie Couric made a snide remark about Evangelicals one (every) morning on Today does not mean that Christianity will collapse. Yes, the mainstream media is liberal. But if Christianity survived the first century, I think it can survive being the butt of jokes by the American news media. We have so many vehicles to spread our message – you’re reading this aren’t you? – yet we get so caught up in what some atheistic liberal journalist wrote or said. We can point out the hypocrisy and distortions when they show up, but why devote our entire lives to calling a spade a spade. Again, be a part of and support the alternatives instead of simply bashing those on the other side.
4. Actually love the sinner. I’m thinking of this principle as it relates to the gay community, but it could apply to several other areas. We have become efficient at hating the sin, but we are struggling to love the sinner. We repeat the mantra: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Yet, somehow we consistently manage to forget to do the first part. We are strong on condemning sin, but very weak on showing the love of Christ. Neither should be overpower the other.
3. Be extra pro-life. It is not enough to say, “abortion is wrong” or “embryonic stem-cell research is wrong.” We have to support the alternatives – personally so. Just like with the issue of Hollywood, we cannot just condemn abortion. We must know and tell about other means. Christians should be there to help and support the unwed pregnant mother contemplating an abortion. We should seek out information on the advantages of adult stem cell research. We should be willing to personally adopt babies that would otherwise be aborted or “snowflake babies” from embryo facilities.
2. Reexamine the Republican relationship. I do not think it is time to “remove” or “reject” the relationship, but as Christians we should reevaluate it. Are we becoming merely another voting bloc for the GOP? Are we trading principles for political power? The recent dust-up over Ralph Reed, his Christian connections and tie-ins to Jack Abramoff raise new questions about how entrenched we have become in the political system. Have our Kingdom values been replaced with political values?
1. Remember Jesus? You know the guy who died for us. Everything has to be done in light our relationship with Jesus. Everything ultimately must point back to Him. It is not about winning arguments. It is not about conservatism. It has to be about showing people the way to the Savior. In his letters to the New Testament churches, Paul talks about a wide variety of different things – maybe he was the first God blogger – but for him it always turns back to Christ. He wanted to be known for the Gospel message he preached. In fact he told the Corinthian church that he was determined to know nothing among them “except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
To paraphrase Paul elsewhere in his letter to the Corinthians: If I save the environment, post the 10 Commandments, save our national motto, get Intelligent Design in the classroom, force Hollywood and the media to the right, prevent gay marriage, stop abortion on demand, elect conservative Republicans to every office in the land, but never point someone else to Jesus Christ and tell them about His love for them then it has all been worthless.