Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Evangelicals Don’t Hate Jesus [and other small corrections]

Phil Zuckerman has written an article Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus, and it has been seconded by Anne Rice and several other non-evangelical Christians who believe Jesus’ first call was for social justice [and social work], to help the poor in this world have a better life. He takes issue with the common evangelical thought that capital punishment is right, conservative evangelicals supported the war on Iraq and that, basically, by these actions, we evangelicals are disobeying Christ’s commands to ‘Love our enemies’ and ‘Love our neighbors'.

His Best Shot:
According to a poll, we oppose "food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training - anything that might dare to help out those in need."

I think it is because these systems get people to rely upon our government to do them, not our churches and communities, which are often more effective esp. at undoing the cycle of poverty. When we see the return on a lot of government services and how poorly they are done, we WOULD rather trust God and find another solution. The U.S. Government is pretty bad at being wise, resourceful and a good manager of our tax dollars.

But many evangelicals are HEAVILY into private giving - and thus, get no credit. [See point 4 below]

Facts that should be patently obvious but strangely are not.

1) The United States of America is not a theocracy. It is a government based on Judeo-Christian ethics with a faintly Theistic worldview that supposes God is a beginner of things but not very involved. When Christians support ANY action of the U.S. Government, it is supporting its role as a nation on the world platform.

Christians pray for and support their land and nation in war and peacetime and work diligently to get that government to change to Godly laws as can be accomplished. From getting the death matches in the Roman Coliseum outlawed, to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire and later the U.S., Christians work from within, loving their neighbors and their opponents [i.e. enemies] hoping they too will see what is right. When facing therefore an opposing nation that is dangerous to others, a nation who decides killing millions of human beings is a darn good idea to keep power [cf. Josef Stalin and Adolph Hitler], we do what we can to stop them – as a nation with others. We “hate the sin but love the sinner.” During the Cold War, we did not hate the Russian people, but we were supposed to hate the evils perpetrated by the Soviet regime. I do not hate my home state of Mississippi; I cannot. Nor do I hate my third grade teacher, my best friend in high school nor the lady who sold me comics at the Quik Stop on Stateline Road – but I hate the prevalent racims that were so much of my state’s history.

As I told one quiet German woman in her mid-40s while waiting at an airport – “We cannot change our land and the shame it has brought to us, but we can make sure we are part of the change and that we do not perpetrate it.” She and I understood one another. Note: Germany and Japan are free countries, and yes, pacifists were saying it was un-Christian to wage war in WWII. They have been forgotten. Iraq is free and we are leaving. Hussein was judged by his own people and executed. Maybe that IS Loving Our Enemies, after all. We get the murderous out of power using our own resources -and lives.

2) God hates evil. Jesus, as His Son, also hates evil. He had NO sympathy for cruel tyrants, dictators, abusers or enablers. He knew how disobeying God by sin was dangerous and damnable. He loved God the Father and obeyed Him radically and uncompromisingly - unto death, even a self-sacrificial death [i.e. “death on a cross”]. When Jesus says “Love your enemies” he means “Don’t divorce the spouse you cannot stand.” “Treat with respect and kindness the jerk online who is given to ad hominem attacks” and “Make sure you are reporting correctly the amount of funds the evangelical church is giving to the poor and not create a false image bias with your shoddy reporting.” He is not saying “The Devil and his agents are misunderstood. Give Satan a big kiss! And a smooch to one of his men who used poison gas on his own people!” The command, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted, was for us individuals, not the state. C. S. Lewis saw it too. We are to love OUR enemies, not God’s enemies.


3) Evangelicals are one of, if not THE, most giving of all Christian groups.
In this arena, I don’t like to differentiate between Catholic or evangelical, or any other such critter. But if we MUST, we will define it to “those who have ACTIVELY gone out and proclaimed Jesus as the son of God and the only way to heaven, preaching and teaching His death has covered humanity’s sins, and that He is thusly Lord of Creation.” You will find they have given BILLIONS in cash, assets and personal time to alleviate the world’s suffering. If I stretch it to ALL evangelicals – including the apostle Paul – over two thousand years, the number is most likely in the trillions. But getting such facts is going to be hard, because...

4) Jesus COMMANDED us to not let the world know what we are giving. He commanded us to give in secret. He told us to give away clothing freely [check], help those who are injured [check] and pray for those who are too stupid to understand their own need for Him, argue incessantly, complain, kvetch and moan while they continue in carnal lifestyles [che---- OK, I’m working on that one].

5) Evangelicals are NEVER going to get the credit we deserve, even if we were perfect. Jesus was called a Prince of Demons for doing miracles. It’s right there in scripture. Guess what Christians are being called WHILE they weekly give to various churches, charitable organizations and out of their own personal expense – which is often NOT tax-deductible? You got it. We are BAD people who DON’T CARE for the POOOOOOOORRRR! Guess what you are really saying bunky? “You didn’t give any money to meeeeeee…” and that folks, is the charge Judas laid at Jesus’ feet while Jesus was being worshiped and adored. It ain’t nothing new.

The biggest problem I have with Christians in the evangelical community is that they do NOT believe they have the power to change lives. It is not that they don’t care; but they know it was HARD for them to give up their own biases and turn around; to drop their own poverty mentality and trust that God wants them to live an abundant life, giving and loving instead of hoarding and hating. It took a miracle, a divine revelation.

And so, we reach who we can, speak as we can, do what we can – because if money would change people from evil to good, Saddam Hussein should have been the kindest man in the world. And if not having money meant you are righteous, then all the poor people in the world are BETTER than all of us.

We evangelicals have come to the conclusion – and every generation does it – that money and more money will not solve real problem of the poor. Only faith in Christ has changed us and only faith in Christ can change ANYONE – making, in one case I know, a career criminal a kind man.

In fact, the surest way to a lesser income I know is to serve Christ and the Church. We get the least income for the same degrees and skillsets. But hey, we don’t mind. We know His love and we will share our Campbell’s soup with you.

Show me a stingy Christian, and I will show you a person who DOES NOT know Jesus personally.

And if you are on death row for killing other human beings, we will offer you a chance to spend eternity with us. Because everyone dies, but not everyone lives.

But show me a Christian who puts social work above preaching the Gospel, i.e. having a person make peace with God, and I will show you Judas Iscariot. “who, though one of the Twelve, later betrayed Jesus.”

We do BOTH – to show love and to end a cycle of self-destruction. But if you want money, here – take it.

You obviously need it more than Me...

...says Jesus.

Here’s the irony: evangelicals outgive and outpreach the world.

Just for Fun: walk into ANY evangelical church tomorrow. Cuss ‘em out real good. Then DEMAND a Bible and some food for your [dying family member/pregnant wife/fictional lover/etc.]. Watch them obey Christ and give it to you, turning the other cheek. If not, at least you got in a good cussin’. Tell them Reverend Justice sent you.

Do it in the inner city – someplace really depressed and dangerous - and some pastor might convert you on the spot.

Jesus is waiting for you to show up, wrestle with Him and get real [cf. Genesis 32:22-32].

Amen.

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