Monday, January 18, 2010

I Used To Feel Bad When I Did These Things. Now I Just Feel Accepted

A question has been brewing in my mind for a while now. It has stung me deep even though it arose as a result of seeing it others. I suppose that is the way of things. And to be honest, Twitter and facebook have helped me see this more than anything

Since when do we as pastors get to ridicule, heckle and make fun of people? A celebrity does something heinous, immoral, and unethical or ridiculous and we batter them on Twitter, facebook, our blogs and radio shows. If a TV preacher says something stupid we call them names and we ridicule them publicly. An athlete or coach does something we don’t like in the sport (read: game) they compete in and we make fun of them…unless they play for our team. Since when is this normal behavior for pastors? Or anyone?

I used to feel bad when I did these things. Now I just feel accepted.

Granted, we don’t do this if it is someone cool. We don’t do this even when heresy is flirted with or espoused outright. We are all fine with calling Pat Robertson an idiot in social media space. But if someone calls Rob Bell one, we make excuses and get all thoughtful. If it is Bono or Chris Martin, we genuflect. If it is the hackneyed preacher or pundit – we virtually curse them and insult them. And no one even blinks.

This is not about civility. This is not about being a gentleman or anything of the sort. This is the betrayal of our true belief in the gospel of grace. Our belief is virtually, “I was/am the worst of sinners saved by grace. Did you see what that guy did/said? That guy is a moron.”

We are shot through with a rapacious desire for mercy for ourselves and people like us and oh yeah, the anonymous poor. But we are drunk with the blood of lady justice for everyone else. We get up in the morning and paw at every crevice for the gospel of grace in that divine book. And then we crawl over to our computers and tweet judgment against sinners between sips of French Press. We are the parody of what we ridicule in fundamentalism.

We don’t burn to show grace and lovingkindness and mercy to people because it is not cool and that is the righteousness are after. That is what we pine for the most. We want to appear before other men and women as justifiably cool. We want to taste the rare flavors of being rock stars. Showing radical love and refusing to talk evil of people behind their back has no cash value in the mall where pastors shop for credibility and acceptance.

Instead of standing on the shoulders of giants we stand on the shoulders of Conan, Letterman and whoever else has good comedic timing. Funny wins smiles and laughter. Love - Jesus-type love for sinners, self-righteous and libertine gets your man card taken away.

Listen, they will not know we are Christians by our desire to help out in Haiti. We should, of course. But that would just make you part of the club called “everyone.” They will know we are Christians when we love each other as Christ loved us, when we love our enemies and show grace to those who do are not believers and yet are not our enemy.

But you know what we do? We say, “Yes, I will love other believers as Christ loved me. Yes, I will love my enemies (whoever they are). But I will make fun of celebrities, fundamentalists and whoever else will make other people laugh at my wit. And retweet me. And “like” my status on facebook.

Our conversation is either characterized by virulent anger or stinging humor. Rarely is it “gracious, seasoned with salt.” Rarely is it actually the overflow of our being marinated in the story of the gospel of grace in Jesus. And I think I am so used to it, I feel as if I am not being myself when I resist the urge. We are like fish, who have no idea what water is.

We have a savior who took on flesh and was held up to derision. How can we deride? He was born in the sticks and it caused people to wonder if he could actually be worth anything. How can we be snobs? We worship the one who wept and talked of the beauty of flowers. Why do we demand a machismo divorced from the Scriptures?

We, as evangelicals have traded in kindness – Christian Love for something else. It is accepted but it is truly something else.


TJ said...

Good word matt.

The Gospel of grace is just one beggar showing the other beggar where to find food.

Thanks for this.

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