Recently, possibly due to the election, I have had heard an escalation of very intense Christian rhetoric. Some from hard-line Christians, some from nominal Christians and even some from main-line pastors. On the other side we have had some violent protesting of California's passage of Proposition 8 banning gay marriage and Al-Queda's name calling of president elect Obama. The conflict between darkness and light appears to be intensifying.
Christianity is blamed for so many things, but especially intolerance. One of the problems here is the mixed message that we can give in standing for a biblical principal, while acting very unlovingly. Hypocrisy is never a good message.
No matter where you are from, your Christianity is likely tainted with your own culture. The early church was stuck in Judaism to the point where Paul rebuked Peter. If you are from any denomination or ethnic background, I am sure some of it has seeped in. This is not a bad thing. Why? Because God is relevant. However; He is never changing. His principals transcend culture and time, but they work exactly the same for every human being in every age. Sin will always be sin to God, regardless of how culture and society view it, rationalize it, defend it or make it legal.
Your worldview will not be 100% correct without a lot of time with the the Master. I am still having trouble finding the verse that talks about suits and ties in church. Yet, I have ministered in many churches where that is a requirement. I was in another church and a woman on our team was not allowed to minister simply because she was a woman. Sad. So she preached healing and laid hands on the sick in the parking lot where many got healed. Worldviews can get in our way.
I think that most damaging thing to Christianity is the media. Many Christians learn from TV. And some TV teachers are really good, but others are not. Worse are the scientific explanations of biblical stories filled with conjecture; like Jesus was married! Oh, and Paul suffered a seizure on the road to Damascus!?! I thought he fell off his Harley at Bike Week. I would submit that questioning is good, but logic is hardly the friend of the Spirit-controlled Christian.
Having taken a one-man survey, I have come to some conclusions about Christianity.
-1 Most Christians don't know what exactly they believe. They take the word they have heard preached on Sunday-- or part of it. They don't test it or challenge it. I am not sure if it is blind faith, laziness, or simply that the pastor called it truth, that this form of acceptance is called faith. The Bereans challenged Paul's teachings and they were commended for it, why not us? A lot of hypocrisy could be avoided if we'd study what we are taught.
-2 The lack of seeing the Word in action is also a real draw back to our faith. We are told to take everything on faith like Thomas. Let me tell you, Thomas saw Lazarus raised from the dead! What he doubted was the fact that the disciples saw Jesus after His death and burial. We need to see the Word in action to build our faith.
I often think of the story where a man is watching a high-wire act over Niagara Falls. There is a man crossing the falls, pushing a wheelbarrow crossing over the perilous falls below over and over. The spectator speaks to him saying, "man you are really good at that; just amazing!"
The high-wire artist replies, "Really, if you think I am that good, than why don't you get in the wheelbarrow?"
We need to chronicle that which we have asked God for, and look for the result. That is what real faith is.
-3 We need to toss our spiritual tin snips out and and let God be all that he is in the Bible. By His Spirit He heals, prophesies, provides faith, wisdom and knowledge, works in signs and wonders, is all knowing, ever present, He is Faith, Hope and Love. He is God of all. Here are 650 More Things That He Is.
-4 We need to be doers, not just hearers of the Word. Most Christians (those not from Muslim and Communist nations) have heard hundreds if not thousands of sermons and spiritual messages. If nearly 80% of Americans claim to be Christians, then how come we are not in better shape in terms of social issues such as abortion, marriage, divorce and even murder?-5 We need to embrace grace and forgiveness with humility. Grace and forgiveness are not excuses for bad behavior. Many get caught up in this type of Christianity and don't have a relationship with God-- really. And those who do, need to be careful of judging others and being legalistic. This type of spiritual pride and smugness is not a good witness for the church.
-6 We need mercy from God. We need to stop pointing at someone else' bad behavior to minimize our own. It is time to be a witness for Jesus, not some TV show that we watched last night.
-7 We need the revelation, knowing that when the work of love is actually done in us, we'll see God as our closest friend. Hosea 2:13-19. We will see Him as fuel to our love tank. And when we take a stand against sin, we'll do it with love, power and a sound mind, not tauting others with Christian rhetoric.