If I Wasn’t Already a Christian I Wouldn’t Be

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In the movie Major League, the Cuban ballplayer Pedro Cerrano commented to a Christian teammate “I like Jesus very much, but he no help with curve ball.”

I like Jesus a lot. In fact I believe in Jesus and am completely orthodox in the basics of the historic Christian faith. Now I did go through a crisis of faith when I returned from Iraq that left me for all intents and purposes an agnostic struggling to believe. When faith returned in the Emergency Room at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center to this day I believe that it was a miracle.

However, since that evening in December 2009 I have found that despite Jesus, that some American Christians can be among the most hateful, intolerant, narrow minded and vicious people on the planet. In light of the very real fact that people are fleeing the Church in ever increasing number and that the fastest growing segment of the religious population in the United States is “the Nones” or those that have no religious preference you would think that Church leaders and for that matter those that call themselves Christian would take a bit of time to reflect on what is going on.

The great evangelist Dwight L Moody once said “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” I do believe that is true. The earliest Christians, men and women that followed Jesus when there was no earthly benefit to doing so attracted people to their faith and their Savior because their lives exemplified love, care and humanity quite unlike many of their persecutors. William Blake, the 18th Century English poet would say “The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.”

However I have to say that if I was to be looking for Jesus by the recent experiences that I have had with people that call themselves “Christians” I would never consider becoming a Christian. Now I am a Christian and I do not plan on leaving the faith but I have to agree with Mahatma Gandhi that “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

This yesterday I received an e-mail from a woman upset with an article I wrote about the death of the Reverend David Wilkerson a couple of years ago. I was polite and even apologetic but in two subsequent e-mails she persisted and finally sent me an e-mail stating: “You are an arrogant pompous hypocrite a classic wolf in sheep’s clothing. Call yourself Padre tells it all. Now get thee behind me Satan. In Jesus name.”

I have for the most part stopped taking such attacks personally. Yes there are some times that they hurt or anger me, but in light of them I can understand why so many people hold Christianity, the Church and Christians in such low esteem. This particular person was so ignorant about what she was talking about and me that I could hardly take her comments seriously or be hurt by them. What scares me is how widespread this type of attitude is in some church communities and the effects that it has on so many people and our society as a whole. In light of this and so many other interactions I have had with “Christians” that I am tempted to agree with Mark Twain who said: “If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.” Since I have written about these encounters many times I will not go into detail here other than to say that they make me tired and simply restate that if I wasn’t already a Christian I wouldn’t be.

The late Oscar Romero, the martyred Archbishop of El Salvador wrote: “I don’t want to be an anti, against anybody. I simply want to be the builder of a great affirmation: the affirmation of God,who loves us and who wants to save us.”

That is the kind of Christian that I want to be. I will strive to love people and tell the truth, and if need be confront injustice against any of God’s people. Hopefully in doing so I will be a witness that helps call people back to the love of God shown in Christ.

Peace

Padre Steve+

4 Comments

Filed under christian life, faith

4 responses to “If I Wasn’t Already a Christian I Wouldn’t Be

  1. Vinson

    Powerful quotes arise from much sorrowful pain, Steve. At the end of the day, everytime, it seems to come down to who one chooses to be – with or in spite of others. And the prayer of Jesus remains just that, “…that they me one…”
    Peace,
    Vinson

  2. Daz

    If Jesus was to preach what He preached in Galilee,
    They would lay poor Jesus in His grave.
    —Woodie Guthrie

  3. Louis

    Two things come to mind Steve . . . one is a quote by my boy (deceased) Joseph Campbell who said that, “It is the obligation of the orthodoxy to give the martyr his desire.” There is always someone out there to strike down the messenger, especially a messenger of peace. As David Bowie playing Pilate in “The Last Temptation of Christ” said to Jesus, “It’s one thing to want to change the way that people live…but you want to change
    how they think, how they feel.”
    Jesus: “All I’m saying is that change will happen with love, not with killing.” Pilate: Either way, it’s dangerous.

    Anyway, all that being said, I would like to proffer the simple idea that you do not need Jesus, certainly not Jesus the Christ (or any other imaginary being as am excuse to do good without embarrassment) in order to conquer by forgiveness or to love. People loved and forgave each other long before Christ. The bible and even the best of the ideas associated with it, only make things murky, bind spirituality to a concrete, flawed and temporal text and place the responsibility for our salvation on the fickle nature of a jealous and in the end, nasty god. I suggest that if we get past our fantasies of the afterlife, it will help us focus on the here and now and the realization that we are all in this thing together and only have each other. I appreciate that one may feel this way with what they believe is Christ in their heart, I merely suggest that it is unnecessary and in the end, belief in imaginary friends does more harm than good. Please keep up the interesting posts.

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