I have been Facebook friends with a nationally known celebrity for a number of years (and personal friends with her sister for several years before that). Lest anyone think I’m here to “name drop”, I will not identify the celebrity in this writing. Her identity isn’t what’s important – what matters is the issue she brought up in a recent Facebook post. Her question, and the response of another of her followers, drove home to me in heartbreaking fashion a problem I have seen for years with the church’s witness to 21st Century America.
Before I share their words, I want to emphasize that this post is NOT about the current U.S. election cycle, though that cycle is almost certainly what prompted her question. Nor is this post even more generally about my opinion regarding the most “Christian” approach to U.S. politics. Please look beyond both of those subjects and view these words from the wider perspective of the commission Jesus left with the church prior to his ascension – to win people’s hearts to him. I fear the church has allowed herself to be distracted by that which we have become convinced is “good”, to the exclusion of what is actually best. Read the following with the thought impressed upon your mind: “I am called to be like Jesus”.
(Though primarily intended as a conciliatory sentiment designed to cause us all to think from a spiritual perspective, that last paragraph is admittedly also code for, “Anyone derailing this conversation into political arguments via comments here or on Facebook, whether intentionally or unintentionally, will quickly find said comments deleted.” You’ve been warned…)
I should also point out that the questioner makes no claims to being Christian, which is (fairly obviously) also true of the commenter.
Here is the exact text of her Facebook status, followed by the comment left by a follower:
“I really don’t understand the greedy selfish mindset of those who rail against the “welfare state.”
Do you really not see that helping people survive is a good thing?
And, are these really the most Christian people among us?
I don’t get it.
“Because they are all talk and no action. It doesn’t affect them directly so they don’t care. Heck with Christians. They are inhuman!”
Go back and read the exchange again, and let those words sink in.
Rather than use them as a springboard to promote my own agenda. I will simply suggest the following thought questions:
1) In our zeal to cry persecution and victimhood from the mainstream media and all that seems to be fighting against what we as Americans hold dear, is it really Jesus we are fighting for, or just a cobbled-together notion of what we would like his Kingdom to look like?
2) Does good capitalism equate to good Christianity?
3) Is it possible that we have allowed ourselves to become so committed to a mode of Christian behavior that we have lost touch with the Christianity that is supposed to drive it?
4) And most importantly, what is our path forward toward having people be attracted to our message because they “recognize that we have been with Jesus”, rather than being repelled by our hypocrisy?
I have one reason, and one reason only, for specifying that the words I quoted come from someone who has been fairly well known in the realm of American entertainment: To remind us that these types of reactions to our selfish approach to evangelism are not just coming from the guy on the corner who doesn’t go to church, or from your atheist college professor, but from levels where they can be heard, and can influence others’ lives, to a degree we might not want to admit.
In this age of social media and a 24/7 news cycle, the eyes of the world are watching and judging the church more closely than ever before.
What will they see when they fall upon you?