Sunday, July 3, 2011

Christianity Against or For the People?

I picked up a copy of Independent Weekly today to see what would be happening in Raleigh this weekend and read an article by Bob Geary, "Whose America? The Founding Fathers welcomed immigrants and religious diversity. Why won't the right wing?" Immediately this article intrigued me to see what it was all about as I was curious to how Christianity was mentioned in light of the discussion. As a side note, I do not believe Christianity is right or left wing, there are Christians who are both.

Overall the article was well written and brought up some valid points, but I also believe that it gave a larger insight to what people general think or how they view Christians and Christianity whether it is truly "Christian" or not. Early on Geary describes Fox News as trying to marginalize Muslim-Americans with their "conservative, supposedly Christian doctrine." I appreciate that he includes the word supposedly here because can a news station really be Christian? I mean, other than the 700 club? Okay, bad example. My point being that if Fox News or Christians claim that they are a news station portraying Christian doctrine then we are in serious trouble as followers of Christ in communicating the gospel.

Geary starts the next paragraph with this, "The treatment of Muslims, gays and immigrants is something to consider as the Fourth of July approaches and we prepare to celebrate America's-America's what?" Now, Geary here is referring to the country as a whole, but I believe that this is a question that the church should consider as well. How is it that we are treating the Muslims, gays and immigrants in our communities and our churches? I will step out and say that as a whole, the church in the US is not doing a great job at this, but hopefully that is changing.

Geary refers to the Founding Fathers writing of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom to worship a creator or no creator that we as followers of Christ should be thankful for. We should be thankful that we live in a country where people have the freedom to worship as they choose. I for one am thankful for this freedom, but I am more thankful for the freedom that I find in my Savior Jesus!

Geary references historian Richard Hofstadter and how he points out in one of his books that "there's always been an anti-something movement in America." What got me here is that in many ways the church has gotten caught up in this. I may lose some of you here, but why is it that the church is always known for what we are against? And why is it that somehow right-wing politicians have come to be the representatives of Christianity? Yes, I believe that we need to call sin what it is and be clearly against it, but what if our churches existed for the cities we live in and focused more on what we are for and make our cities hate us for our brotherly love for one another and our cities and less for what we are against.

 Geary references that many right-wingers (supposedly Christian) that claim they're on their guard against a governmental conspiracy to destroy the American (dream) way of life. My immediate thought to this was if these are all true followers of Christ then they need to start by reading the gospels and the life of Jesus and what he calls us to and then probably wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up a copy of David Platt's Radical and get upset with him for trying to destroy the American dream.

Geary uses Jefferson's view on established religion as an example who said of it, "tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it." I agree with Jefferson in many ways here in as far as it refers to religion, but what is missing here is Jesus and the gospel, which is both countercultural and counter-religious.

Towards the end of the article, Geary quotes a woman who describes how people are generally misinformed about Muslims through stereotypes, which is probably true. I would like to point out that most people I believe are generally misinformed in the same way about the gospel and what truly following Christ looks like. It is not their fault though, it is the church that has failed to communicate the message of the gospel in a clear and accurate way, whether through Word or deed.

So, this Fourth of July, I pray that all of you will take a look at your own life and your church and think about how it is that your community and city perceive you. Do they sense that you are against them or for them? Are you seeking the welfare of your city? If your treatment of Muslims, gays and immigrants is such that you are looked at as the intolerable one then please stop doing so in the name of Jesus, who would have spent time loving all three.

7] But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7 ESV) 

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