What Kind of Christians Are We?
Today, I was talking with a Christian coworker, and mentioned that some Christians refuse to stand for a judge because they view all humans as equals. My coworker seemed perplexed by the idea, thought it was silly, and barely avoided stating that people who try to bring such beliefs into a court setting should be arrested. His reasoning was that it was merely showing respect for the judge and has nothing to do with worship. I do not necessarily believe that my coworker is wrong in standing for a judge, should he be in a position to stand before one. However, he does not believe in giving others the ability to live by their convictions, including other Christians. While I believe it is a matter between the a person and God, I view such Quakers/Christians/etc. that live their convictions as heroes. These are people who are willing to risk imprisonment for abiding by their conscience. As a former pastor of mine pointed out, Caesar does not own your conscience, God does.
There is a reason why this bothered me. I was trying to probe my coworkers beliefs (primarily because he will discuss ‘religion’ or Christ with every other coworker but me, except to invite me to his church, but also because of my curiosity). I have been trying to see what kind of a Christian he was, and if he had good reasons for his beliefs. Perhaps my conclusion is unfair, but he seems to be a typical ‘conservative’ type: he confuses faith in Christ with an unquestioning acceptance of everything taught to him in a Christian setting. Unfortunately, it seems as if the majority of Christians I meet are this way.
What kind of Christians are we if we believe this way? Of what value is our faith? We can quote scripture verbatim, but our only understanding is what has been taught to us. People ask us how to get to Heaven, and we immediately spit out an answer, without knowing if it is true. It was just taught to us. Frankly, I am not certain if most Christians even know why they believe what they believe. At all. A cab driver pointed this out to me years ago when he asked me some questions about my faith. Since then, I have tried very hard to make sure my beliefs are consistent and true. (Does anyone remember reading Philippians 2:12?) Some do not really care to do this, and get their consistent and true beliefs on Sundays.
Modern Christianity seem to be no better than the other theories of life or religions it derides. It rests simply on a teaching that has been passed down from multiple generations of teachers in a game of generational telephone with the current teaching being incredibly far from the truth it once showed, and there is no desire to go to the beginning and rework our beliefs as necessary. We say to ourselves that “This is what we were taught, and any deviation from it is heresy.” Someone raises an objection to our beliefs and instead of having an answer or researching the question, we cite problems with the questioner. Did we not read from the Bible that we proclaim to be true without knowing why that we should study (2 Tim 2:15)? We are offended by Christians in jail, forgetting in the Bible, persecution is normal. Forgetting God’s commandments, we try to force others to live the way we want. We advocate theft in Christ’s name. We serve someone other than the Jesus in the Bible, and others know this. They mock us, not to persecute us, but because our brand of christianity deserves mocking. They are offended by us, because we offend them, and not because the core of our belief itself is offensive. We even have rules just like the religious leaders Jesus criticized, but we have very intricate reasons for why our rules are not like theirs. We complain of people picking and choosing what parts of the Bible they believe, but it may better to do that with a consistent belief than to mandate that everything be included for the sole reason of a vote long ago while taking what we mandate as included and twisting and perverting it in ways the original authors/Author did not intend. There is a lot wrong with our christianity! It’s not Christian!
To be fair, people’s beliefs change over time, and I too was once a zombie-christian: eating the brains of other christians to sustain me. Perhaps I am still that way to a degree (I’ve changed, honest!). Maybe this is a rant more about myself than a plea for others to consider themselves. I could fill the rest of this spot with Philippians 2:12, but I doubt it would help; I’ve read passages hundreds of times before understanding them, and hundreds of times more before realizing I was abiding solely by a teaching rather than what the passage plainly said. Perhaps it’s worth scrapping our ideas and rebuilding them from scratch?
And the question now is “what do I believe?” I believe that there is a Creator. I believe that He came down in the form of Christ to show us how to live. I believe that he took the punishment of the world when He died on the cross because he loved us, and to show us what love truly is: not killing or oppressing others because they don’t believe like you, but sacrificing yourself for others out of love for them. I believe that when Jesus stated that the greatest commandments were to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, that He meant it. I believe all scripture should be interpreted in light of these two verses.