We Christians must wrestle with our testimony – the message we are presenting to the lost world around us. The general restlessness and cynicism of our time has at times left our testimony ragged and unimpressive. No matter what corner of the Christian world you inhabit, the anti testimony rings louder than the gospel. The bad news of what we are against is like a hundred daggers across the hearts of the lost world around us. This is not interpreted by the world as faithfulness to God’s Word. It is simply accepted as a form of hate.
Yes, God hates sin. Yes, there are some actions / attitudes / behaviors that do not meet with His approval. True, not everyone is going to be saved. However, all do have the opportunity to be saved. It is a sad reality that sometimes Christians stand in the way of the lost coming to Christ.
Imperfect Christians (the only kind) struggle throughout their lives to overcome the failings of the flesh and grow in the spirit. Have we come to believe that it is acceptable to point out the failings of the unredeemed as if we were pronouncing the judgment of God ourselves? Dare we look down our noses from the judgment seat of our convictions?
To turn that question around, is it ever wrong to love someone? We all know love does not imply approval. Love exists superior to our opinions and knowledge. And we need to thank God for that when we look in the mirror.
Anne Rice has written a library full of books, though she is best known for Interview With The Vampire. Several years ago Rice gave her life to Christ and began a spiritual journey within Roman Catholicism. Today, Anne Rice declared a distinction between her journey with Christ and Christianity. On her Facebook (and Twitter) accounts she wrote:
For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
Later, she wrote:
I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
Judging from the responses, she’s not alone. From Ms. Rice’s perspective Christianity is anti-people, Jesus is not. I look at that list in the second of her postings and I know Christians like that. They keep their opinions to themselves and know that it is fruitless to attempt to discuss them.
*There are clear teachings in Scripture about many areas of life, and we cannot abandon those teachings because someone doesn’t like them. Even when we don’t like them. But I do not see Ms. Rice rejecting Scripture as much as rejecting attitudes and actions against people. Of course I do not know her and I could be wrong. Each of the subjects she mentions are cultural hot buttons. But in the talk about those hot buttons, have we testified to the love and grace of God, or to our own intolerance? Do I have to agree with everything a person does and believes to love him/her? Can I give others time and opportunity to grow in Christ if I believe their understanding is faulty? Can I perhaps grow during that same time?
*Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the solution for Ms. Rice is to simply change religions. Her particular brand of Christianity has some views that do not match mine (and in my opinion are not taught in the Bible). However, the spirit against which she speaks is alive and well in all of Christendom. In many parts of our evangelical world being a Christian is equated with being a Republican, even an American. Aside from the birth control issue, I’m not sure I could offer her a safe haven in Christendom where extreme views on either side do not exist, or are sanctioned by the church.
*I don’t think I can change this. All I can do is love. And recognize that I love within a fellowship of people who are exceptional at showing the love of Christ. At the same time I fail to love more than I want to admit. All I can do is choose to love and encourage others to love. The love of Christ has it’s demands and the truth of those teachings is untouchable. Let’s just make every effort to be assured that when we have opportunity to share Christ that we are sharing Him, His will, and His way… and not decorating that with our own fanciful outlines of logical conclusions.
*In grappling with this, I do not see the solution as abandoning convictions. I see it as a call to not be anti people. We want to be FOR people. We want to see them as the creatures of God they are, and strive to help them grow closer to Him. At the same time we will be careful not to trip over our own faults (especially those of attitude).
Those are just a couple of responses. I’d love to hear your thoughts.