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Monday, May 14, 2007

When Christians get it all wrong ...

Two stories - both from here in North Carolina - that caught my attention this morning, that illustrate the frustration that I have so often with some who profess to share my faith in Christ...

The first has to do with Good News Independent Baptist Church in Raleigh: its pastor has placed this sign out in front of the church. I could say something about the horrible grammar and spelling ("Christain"?) but that's not the point. What is troubling is that Rev. Gary Murrell is being a very poor witness for Christ in doing this. Does he seriously believe that this sign is going to convince any Muslim to give up his or her religion and embrace Christianity? Because he's gravely mistaken if he does. We are supposed to be convincing people of Christ with our love toward them, and not militant hostility. When Murrell does this, he's really not showing that he's that much different from the Muslims who do kill other people. The hatred and loathing is the same, it's just a difference of extremes to which each chooses to express that hatred.

The other story involves the opening prayer at Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meetings. The ACLU is suing the board for what it calls "sectarian prayer" during its meetings. The board is supposed to be voting on how to handle the situation later tonight.

Here's the thing: I don't believe that the ACLU should be filing these ridiculous lawsuits against local municipalities for how they choose to carry on their public meetings. This is something that's left up to the local community. So I definitely believe that the ACLU should butt-out. At the same time, too many of the people who are most defending this kind of prayer are doing so for the completely wrong reason. They aren't "defending" or "standing up" for prayer for prayer's sake. They are doing this to turn prayer into a public show of force and power... which is something that Jesus expressly taught against. In fact, Jesus said that people who do this kind of public prayer were "hypocrites". Prayer is supposed to be a personal thing between the individual and God, not a public rallying cry against "those evil liberals" or some-such. When it becomes that, then prayer is worthless... and like the story of the church sign above, it poisons our witness for Christ.

The common point in both of these stories is the notion that Christianity should be a "religion" in competition with all the other religions of the world. That is wrong, because that gives Christianity the purpose of accumulating temporal power instead of furthering the kingdom of God for no other reason than it's own sake. Christianity shouldn't even be considered a "religion" at all, anyway. It's about relationship with God, not ritual for God.

We do neither God or ourselves any favors when we use the name of Christ to achieve stature in the eyes of the world.

Maybe if the Christians of this country would realize the dire need for humbleness, and stop trying to dominate the world, then perhaps we would get out of the way and allow God to fix some of the things that we complain about most. But hey, I'm just a guy with a blog: what do I know?


qemuel said...
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