I made the mistake a couple weeks ago of venturing into the reddit forums on religion. For those of you who haven't--or would rather not dive into what is a fierce, but surprisingly respectful, debate forum, I can tell you it's a challenging thing to see. The arguments were mostly old--ones we've heard all our lives. But, the one thing I read that was particularly challenging to me was this claim from a nonbeliever:
"If God is real, then why are the believers of the world not united?" (I'm paraphrasing a longer sentiment).
At the time of my reading this, it was just on the heels of the World Vision homosexuality controversy. If you didn't hear, the controversy involved the backlash of Christians across the nation against World Vision for their HR policy which allowed married gay folks to work for them. More than 10,000 children lost funding (i.e. food, clean water, clothing) that day and all because of a year old human resources policy.
On that day, I felt very very embarrassed by my Christian brothers and sisters.
I was reminded of a kid who was on my basketball team when I was eight. He had this basketball that was a bit smaller than the normal ball and, since we were all eight, we loved playing with it. It was easier to shoot, and had the new rubber smell. During shootaround, whenever he'd miss a shot someone would rebound his ball and then take it to shoot. If you don't know the first thing about basketball--this is basically the way it's worked for the past 5,000 years. Except for this particular kid loved his ball and didn't want anyone else to play with it. So when he missed and someone got his rebound, he would run across the court screaming wildly, "MY BALL! MY BALL! MY BALL!!!" Confused, we'd just give him the ball back because why fight when there were tons of other basketballs we could shoot with.
It's not an exact metaphor, but it somehow felt like the Christian community responded like this kid whenever the World Vision business went down. People came screaming, "MY JESUS! MY RULES! MY RELIGION!!!" from every direction it seemed. Maybe God hates homosexuality, honestly I don't know and I'm not here to debate that. But I'm fairly positive He really doesn't like letting kids starve to death or get sick from unclean drinking water.
I'm also embarrassed by televangelists sometimes. Once, I saw a televangelist on late night TV who was advertising for his ministry and saying that whoever called in with a certain amount donation would get a free towel anointed with holy water (I wish I was making this up). Cue the cheesy testimonials, "I'm so glad I got my holy towel, now I dry off twice as fast!"
When I see Christians act like this it makes me want to hold up in myself and keep my Jesus all to me because it's too hard, it hurts too much to confront those people and misconceptions head on. But I'm starting to think that's the point. It's hard to be the person beyond the caricature of a modern Christian, which is why it's so necessary. If all the world sees of Christians are people who sell holy towels and withhold love based on agreement then I think we're doing a really good job at being pharisees.
So why am I embarrassed by believers I don't know doing silly things? Because they are claiming to represent something I believe in with actions I don't. So maybe this embarrassment should be seen as a challenge--an invitation to live out the type of faith that I believe I'm called to.
So why doesn't God unite all believers? Honestly I don't know, but I think it has everything to do with our brokenness.
If this post has come across as hateful, prideful, or judgmental, then I've done a disservice because my goal is not to shame anyone (even holy water televangelists), but to open an honest dialogue.
A note about comments: Please feel free to speak your mind, but know that anything I perceive as hateful or inappropriate will be removed. Let's all be adults.