Friday, September 14, 2012
The Snake and The Church: Each Can be Deadly
Venom is typically derived from snakes, but lately I think you could obtain a lethal dose from many of my fellow believers. (hiss)
I am appalled at the vitriolic criticism of President Obama, particularly the scathing attacks by my evangelical, conservative friends. I am not thrilled with some of his policies, the state of the economy, the hell of healthcare, etc. But the hateful posts on fb both frighten and embarrass me. Just today a friend called Obama "a traitor and "unpatriotic" and urged that he be impeached. And this is one of the kinder, more gentle posts of late.
Many of these friends regard themselves as patriots, but it appears we are patriots as long as the one in office is the one for whom I voted. Respect for Reagan, admiration for Bush, absolute disdain for Obama.
What became of Christian civility? Can we disagree, but respectfully? Can we challenge the existing administration without resorting to name-calling? If we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ then shouldn't our conversations, our social networking be characterized by Christ's qualities of grace-giving, meekness, and mercy?
Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied about this coming Messiah and described him in this manner: "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering reed he will not snuff out. . . " He will not crush even the weakest and seemingly useless reed nor put out a flickering candle, as little light as it might provide. That same spirit seems to be missing in many of us, his followers. In contrast, during this political season we are consumed with crushing and would love to snuff out the political opponent or the enemy.
Another friend posted a photo of a gun and a Bible and the caption read (close paraphrase), Two things that belong in every home and neither of which are taught in our schools. Maybe I am hyper-sensitive but doesn't that urge a violence of spirit? I daresay that if a Muslim had posted the same photo of a gun and the Koran with the same caption that he would be been castigated and condemned by us, but we apparently have a Christian prerogative to post such things because, after all, we are right.
As Christ followers we are to be flavoring society. Jesus called us "salt" and "light." Salt adds flavor to bland foods. Light shows the way, rather than condemning everyone else's way. Richard Rohr, in Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps, pegs us well:
Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of "Christian" countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I'm afraid.
May God give us grace to avoid our automatic knee-jerk reactions and to hit the pause button before spewing.
May God work more deeply than that. God, shape me, form me into the very likeness of Christ. May my own core, my spirit become loving like yours, so that I'm not merely engaging in behavior management and conversation policing.