“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi
From time to time I hear people saying such things as being a member of the church is counter-cultural. Well is it…? Really? Always? The impression given is that our culture is self-centered, focused on money, hedonist, violent,… and, so the preacher stresses, we Christians are counter-cultural, going against the values of “the world”…
Well in my experience, that is not the case. Sure, some of the nicest people I know are Christians. But often I also meet Christians who are arrogant, absolutely certain of their own position (“The Bible says”, “God says”, “I prayed about it and”,…), bullies, using people for their own ends (another soul “saved” as a notch on their belt, another young person into their pew statistics,…), obsessed with sex (other people’s), conniving, manipulative, …
And some of the most delightful people are atheists, or honest agnostics, generous, living each day as fully as possible, trying to help others have a good time (this being the only life they are sure of), caring for the planet (it being all we’ve got), humble, funny, with no bait-and-switch motivation for friendship,…
The words of Jesus ring down the centuries:
Woe to you! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
I uphold the doctrine that all that is good is sourced in God. Through love and goodness, truth and beauty, there is union with God. God doesn’t need people ticking a mental box, or praying the relatively new “sinners prayer”, for God to be present and active. And God is big enough not to need our incessant twisting of every event and conversation to be about “God”.
There is bad in church and culture. And good in church and culture. Jesus calls us to be salt – curbing the bad, pointing to and enhancing the good.
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