By Peter Burchard
Christians fret. “What will become of our rights? Oh no, our country is changing.”
We live the low road of faith.
Decay runs slowly from our lips
Coming up from the heart
The mind assures us that all is well with the soul
We would choose love
But what is love when our rights are threatened?
The law must be on our side, the right side
Say it quickly: “The law is so dear to my faith”
That doesn’t taste right
In separation, antagonism
Here is comfort and knowledge
I am “close enough” to “love thy neighbor”
Mark Twain utters. He saw evil in the Congo. He saw emptiness in Christians. Millions died. “If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian.”
We humans, some Christians, mostly not, live deep in the art of error – at being wrong and wrong-headed. Antagonism is easy. Love – not so much.
The Christian contortionist sees only that he is right and others are not good. We soften the blow by saying we love. Our mental default mode resists light. We eschew possibility.
Being right requires endless explanation. Bring in the experts. Christians who want to explain their faith instead of living it. Leaders lead this way. Always the logical explanation.
Just possibly – have we missed our purpose? Is this our best? Seriously?
Our faith has been “right sized.” Instead of emancipation we have a mind that is locked and loaded for whatever we don’t like.
What if Christians were as zealous about the “love verses” as they are about those other verses? We accompany love with “But…you can’t expect me to…”
We embrace kindness, a simplistic substitute for love. Love requires “all in.” Kindness is easy. Love requires that I change – change deeply. Kindness is a lesser – superficial standard – a form of pity and internal compromise. Kindness assuages guilt and elevates outward appearance. Anyone can be kind. Few can love. Kindness is cool and sounds like “Why can’t we all just get along.” Love is from above. Love changes us. Love is salt. Kindness is just a thing to do.
We are and I am on an adjacent cross
Which cross is it?
The object lesson is us – me
Judgement begins at the House of God
Convenient agreement with another is often the standard of what is good and what is right. We conveniently agree in groups. The test rests on personal banality. ”Do you agree with me?” I embrace my thoughts and I am comfortable.
We, persons of faith, all faiths, your faith, can be surgically clever. Our weapon, the spiritual scalpel formed in the image of self not God, helps us slice and dice our logic, justify our wisdom, honor our doctrine, engage in church splits, vote a certain way, marginalize others, prove our point-of-view and assure our brain that what we see “is all there is to see.” We keep our narrative intact. We practice safe-church, safe-faith as we wish it to be. We see and define why the other is wrong. This way, we win every game of conscience.
I am human but others are objects. This is our limitation and our doom. We remain under a curse played out in how we see the other. We keep our focus on our compromised compliance and not on the cross.
I say I have love for all
Don’t question me
Yet if you could read my mind
There are always conditions; I am human after all
The logic of my love requires finding a way to insert my point of view
I love and I am not supposed to be neutral regarding my rights
I’ve decided that my love and point-of-view regarding you are inseparable
I express my love when I tell you that you are wrong
I am special
I follow God
I will show you how to be
We claim to have been transformed (or being transformed) by the working of the Holy Spirit.
We are experts at soft segregation, division and most importantly, not seeing how to apply the most precious doctrine of our faith – love your neighbor as yourself. We are “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
We say we don’t feel hatred or vitriol
We consider this a righteous stand
The right to point a finger at our neighbor
To carve a victory that is not ours, which we do not possess or ever will
Staring without strain to speak what we have selected as the sin in others
The forgiven is now the accuser
Free of self-incrimination and self-deception
People of faith leaning on the government to protect their inalienable rights. We’ve created a cautious and careful faith. Christians needing a Caesar. This is what the unfree do. This is what occurs in other countries – failed states. Since when did “Be ye perfect” come with dependency on SCOTUS or POTUS?
Blissful in plain ignorance
Leaders lead all astray
We shine the light on others
Triumph is in “Gotcha”
Consider “Let your light so shine before men…”
We prefer to point a finger at others instead of allowing our light to glow. Some think they do this for God. Some Christians demand compliance when others demand a little respect and understanding for their point of view. The net-net can only be intolerance. Ignorance bests knowledge. What’s from above is thus discarded.
We put weights on others we cannot hold ourselves. Self-righteousness deepens, deepens, and deepens. ‘Til death do we part from our view.
God never imposed anything on any person – any Christian ever – ever! Thank God that God now has Christians to do the imposing.
Our light will not fill a darkened outhouse. Judging others is easy, a wonderful alternative to owning one’s own light.
How odd it is to say Christians have been set free by a spiritual change, by faith – only to now judge others and expect their compliance with a life the pre-Christian did not lead. “I demand that you live by my standards and beliefs (I defend self by explaining these are God’s standards and I am now here to help God gain compliance in others), the world to be like me, when I never did before what I now say you should.
We fail to find meaning. Victor Frankl, years after life in a Nazi death camp, illustrated meaning as one’s ability to retreat from surroundings “to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom.”
Frankl wrote: “The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
We’ve created a Jesus who is easier to accept. Instead of selling off and being the personal example, we collect, we’ve created institutional Christianity where structure, art and statements of faith take precedence to a radical and complete transformation.
I pretend I’m living my potential
Thy rod and my own comfort
Soothing life while I can have it
A haven for feeling pretty good
This is my love for others as myself
Me and my arrow, my thoughts
I have it and you can have it too
Examples trouble me.
Mark Twain, an avid critic of the church, stood on principle when Christian and non-Christians all over the globe ignored King Leopold’s murderous reign in the Congo. High church leaders in Europe looked the other way. Over eight million were murdered. Twain and a few others, a clerk on a shipping dock and a few missionaries, stared down King Leopold of Belgium and were instrumental in stopping this evil. For the most part, Christians and Christianity failed.
Christians (those who say they are), Christian institutions and even some public universities are embedded with sexual wickedness towards children. Priests, pastors, lay workers, sports coaches, many in leadership positions – have created a path of destruction around the world as they pursued their sexual urge with helpless children. I’m sickened by Christians and Christian institutions that rationalize or protect the behaviour of thousands of pedophiles.
Read the Freeh report regarding the wickedness at Penn State. The findings regarding a decade’s worth of institutional cover-ups and how some rationalized wicked crimes in the name of protecting an institution are classic. The other sickening and repulsive, and almost never discussed truth is that the men engaged in the acts against children and in institutional cover-ups are almost always self-identified and even church-going “Christians.”
Christians seem to have an issue with who they do business with. We now pick our customers. We’ve used signs like: No Catholics, No Colored. Today the sign some wish to post reads No Gays. I see at the Pearly Gates a new sign – No Christians.
Jesus has a sign: “Depart from Me.”
Let’s say you own a bakery. Instead of turning someone away, why not give them what they requested for free; at least at a discount. Tell them you love them. Chill. Have a conversation. Touch them if you dare. Why is superiority easier?
What do we let rattle our inner cage? Are we so shallow that we let sugar and flour come between us and another human being who was just being? What causes our fear – why is it so easy to turn another human aside?
Why do so called Christians do the exact opposite of what they should do? I think we turn people away because we are afraid to know love – to be love.
The pulpit is shallow. As church leaders serve comfort food, the passengers lose their insight. We create easy love. We withdraw and protect. Obsequious pew sitters.
What should we do? Three ideas:
First, Jesus taught faith, love and charity – towards all. Perhaps we should try the same thing? Think about the better possibilities. Consider the responses by the relatives of those murdered by a low-life evil punk in Charleston, SC. Love. Forgiveness. Peace. No deep explanation or original perspective needed.
Second, this is also about cleaning up one’s own act. Jesus gave us love so we wouldn’t have to major in the minors.
Third, so you think everyone in the world was born heterosexual – just like you? Good luck with that one.
Finally, we need to find a better definition and practice for ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.” The current practice just isn’t working.