WASHINGTON, June 29, 2013 — When Christianity is vilified and attacked in modern times, it is almost always in the wake of bad behavior by people who are either prominent for their Christianity or are assumed to be Christians. Jimmy Swaggart, Catholic priests, and “family-values” Republicans have all done what they can to draw the fire of her enemies to Christianity.
Attacks on Christianity have come from many directions. Some people assert that Christianity is based on a mythological or legendary figure: Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the anointed one, Jesus Christ. The historical Jesus Christ has more evidence for His existence than many other figures from the ancient world whose existence we take for granted. What we know of Socrates we learn from the writings of one disciple, Plato, and from a play by Aristophanes. Yet the evidence is strong that there really was an Athenian philosopher names Socrates, almost as strong as that there was a Jesus Christ.
Forced to abandon that line of attack, her enemies attack Christianity through Christians. Frequent scandals have rocked the Christian world. In fact, the spotlight of scandal on those involved in Christian ministry is so frequent and so bright that Wikipedia has a separate link to it.
Why the spotlight falls so much more often and brightly on Christianity than on other faiths is an interesting question, and too complex to answer fully here, but the prominence of Christianity in America and the role that Christians play in supporting institutions that are loathed by the press makes Christianity a very big target.
Over 2000 years ago, the Roman Emperor Pontius Pilate said of the Jew who was delivered for judgment and execution, “I find no fault in Him.” That’s a problem: There is no fault in Christ. Those who look to discredit Christianity are unable to do it through Christ, and so they do it through professing Christians who do not walk according to what they say. They demand that Christian hypocrites (and aren’t all humans at some point frail hypocrites?) stand in for Christianity, so that they can condemn it.
Even the Apostle Paul told the believers at Corinth, Greece, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) To break it down to brass tacks, Paul said: “Follow me as you see that I am following Jesus.” That is, he said we should follow Christian leaders as long as they walk as true Christian leaders. When they fail, we don’t abandon Christianity, but instead refuse to follow them in their failures.
Too often, we humans point fingers at others to denounce their failures to discredit their cause, or to give ourselves permission to copy their failures. The failure of another does not give you and me a license to do the wrong thing ourselves.
“…you who say that a man should not steal, do YOU steal? You who say that a man should be sexually pure and not commit adultery, are YOU sexually unpure and commit adultery?You who boast in knowing the Bible, do YOU through breaking what the Bible says –dishonor God? For this reason, the world around you curses and blasphemes the Name of God –THROUGH YOU and your hypocrisy, as it is written in the Word.” (Romans 2:21-24)
Here is what true Christianity is about, and it is always above reproach: “[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5: 22, 23) If you are judging the behavior of so-called Christians, remember: We are all going to give account for our own actions in the end.
“[T]he time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)
Sobering thought, isn’t it?
Bill Randall is a Christian, and a certified Community Chaplain in Wake Forest, NC. He has authored the book, “Examining God’s Purposes for Fasting and Prayer” (Author House, 2005).
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