I see a lot of memes on social media that not only ridicule the Church as unless but actually say Christians are evil.
I suppose the “useless” part comes in when believers pray to their “sky daddy” rather than “follow the science.” After all, if a Christian were sick, they’d go to the doctor like any atheist and humanist. Of course they would. They would also pray, which I’m sure baffles many folks.
As an aside, faith and science are not mutually exclusive. That’s a pretty blatant myth. Some of the greatest names in science were and are Christians.
I’m not going to attempt to defend the practice of prayer. It would fall on deaf ears. I will however say that the Church isn’t just a self-perpetuating system that isolates itself from reality except on those moments when it can destroy people’s lives by being pro-life.
As another aside, I won’t pretend there aren’t bad people who hide behind the label “Christian,” nor will I say there aren’t greedy Pastors and bloated churches that love money more than God. I abhor them and everything they stand for. But you won’t find the faithful on television or in the news. Faith and doing good are often anonymous.
I take my Mom every Sunday to a local Lutheran church. She’s 90, she suffers from Alzheimer’s, and she needs a walker to get around. I know there are people in the world who are accused of being “ablest,” that is, behave with prejudice against anyone who is disabled or infirm. And yet, in several recent social media encounters, I’ve had the very people who cry “ablest” against others denigrate disabled or unhealthy people just because they didn’t like that person’s politics.
You see “compassion” from that perspective, is selectively applied.
Now you could say the same thing about Christians. After all, we’re human, and in spite of our values or even our God, we make mistakes, we can have bad attitudes, and we can play favorites. Anyone who has attended any church at all knows there are definitely cliques of the “in people.” But it’s worse when we do it because we should know better.
I wouldn’t say that Mom’s church is a hotbed of social justice activism. However, at last Sunday’s service, I discovered two things.
The first is that they have a food drive specifically for children and infants. Working in cooperation with local foodbanks, people attending the church are encouraged to give specific items for the most vulnerable members of our population. Notice that this isn’t directed just at the church. Anybody can use a foodbank. They want to feed children all around us, whether they’re Christian or not. The religion (or lack thereof) and the politics of their parents don’t matter either.
The second thing was that the church has recently partnered with a local taxi cab company. If you want to come to church and you don’t have transportation, just call a particular phone number and arrange a free ride to the service of your choice.
Like I said, Mom doesn’t get around, but either my wife or act as her transportation. Not every disabled or elderly person is so fortunate, and I’m glad Mom’s church recognized this. Yes, I suppose you could say that this service is just for people who go to the church, but I bet if someone wanted to attend for the first time and didn’t have a lift, they could visit the church’s website, see that free rides were available, and make arrangements.
Like I said, this church isn’t curing cancer or single-handedly feeding 100,000 people a day, but they’re doing something.
In the past, they encouraged supporting the foster parents who attend the church. The head pastor and his wife just adopted three girls. No, they’re not newborns. They’re girls who they’ve fostered for a number of years and when parental rights were terminated by the court, they wanted to be the “forever home” for these kids.
Just because you don’t see the scores of Christians who are foster parents being paraded around on CNN or MSNBC, doesn’t mean they don’t exist and aren’t helping children.
I write this to the people whose only perception of “church” is that it molests children, is only “pro-life” until children are born and then couldn’t care less, only exists to destroy the hopes and dreams of pregnant women, and otherwise is just a tax-free haven that doesn’t give back to its local community.
Another thing I discovered, I knew all along. Critics of Christianity imagine that all the sermons, especially toward children is “Do as we say or you’re going to Hell.” Basically, the idea is the the Church controls people through fear, like those old “fire and brimstone” Preachers I detest so much.
The opposite is true. Each and every sermon including the Children’s Message, is entirely uplifting, encouraging, and compassionate. We’ve had a guest Pastor in the past few weeks (the regular guy and his family have a right to take a vacation), and his sermon was on “Fear, Faith, and Anxiety.” This particular Pastor has a mental health counseling background, so he talked about his experienced working with people who were suicidal.
It wasn’t a fluff piece (some sermons can be), but rather a recognition that we can be caught up in the stresses in the world AND that we have a compassionate God who loves us and is with us.
That doesn’t mean bad times don’t happen and bad things don’t happen to Christians. The prayer requests near the end of service attest to the people in the congregation suffering from cancer, COVID, depression, who have been in terrible car accidents, who have lost loved ones. The same things that happen to everyone else.
In the end, being a Christian isn’t about what God can give us (although we do cry out in our fear and sorrow), but what we can do for the world around us in His Name.
Christians are often accused of being bigoted and self-centered, and yet the critics of the Church, many of them anyway, proceed from that very same foundation. After all, they’re just as human as we are.
As you can see, both Christians and non-Christians can get angry or contentious. But in terms of how we see doing actual good in the world, we might be more alike and unalike.
Oh, finally, Choose Life.