I often wonder what letters from the Apostle Paul to modern Christians might read like. I suspect they would not be pleasant, nor all that polite and kind. More akin to, “What are you people thinking,” in the manner that only Paul could deliver.
Frankly, I’ve come to dislike the term ‘Christian’ as a label for myself. I work with Christians, live in the so-called Bible belt, I’ve seen them in the bars that I’ve played before I retired and I have some as friends. I can’t tell the difference anymore, save for the very sad fact that I can generally find more challenging and thoughtful discussions on religion, God and the deeper things with atheists, Pagans, agnostics and those of other religious beliefs.
When I discuss a difference, I do not mean that Christians don’t curse, don’t ever drink and don’t know how to have fun. Nothing of the sort. I’m talking about character, conviction, maybe even some cojones. You’d swear that Yeshua Himself was a Nice Guy in the modern sense. I read nothing of the sort in the Bible. I read of a man so full of Truth that, even had He desired, He could not have hidden it away in order to keep from offending cultural sensibilities. Or feelings. Or anything else that would impede the message of Truth. Of God Himself, for that matter. One does not apologize for The Almighty. There is also a lockstep mentality concerning doctrine and dogma in Christianity, something else The Christ wasn’t too fond of in terms of placing the ideas of Man above those of God.
I also weary of the reactionary nature of the modern Christian. This is also not what I read of Yeshua. Faith isn’t concerned with popular opinion, even popular opinion among fellow Christians. Again, The Christ did not come to make everyone feel great about themselves and that sort of modern nonsense; He came to split families, destroy comfort and remove barriers and impediments to those who possessed and exhibited a desire to obtain said faith. And though I believe everyone is free to come to God, faith is cultivated and not all achieve the same levels. Thus an Emissary from God such as the Christ is far more interested in seeing where the seeds are germinating and removing the weeds. Religion will often concern itself with trivialities and niceties but a true faith does no such thing. A corporation will find itself looking ahead to find ways to generate revenues (which always calls for big buildings and multi-million dollar stage shows for some rationalized reason or another), gain new members, not insult anyone who might be a potential donor, try and maintain a ‘relevancy’ to the culture at later, so on and so forth. Faith does not work this way.
As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of all these things as I watch culture wars, the same tired ones, erupt around these so-called sacred holidays. What a backwards way of showing faith. Heaven forbid a whole lot more Love Thy Neighbor entered the picture. Black Thursday/Friday approaches, so I do not hold out much hope for that aforementioned Love Thy Neighbor, however.
I’m still imagining that letter from Paul.
To the Church of America and the West, I, Paul, write to you now with much consternation, worry, and quite honestly, not a little bit of what are you people thinking. Once your nation and Church shone, like your proverbial city on a hill, now only to be seen as a nation covering itself with a dark cloud, fomenting troubles while ignoring the world in front of your own media screens…