Tuesday, October 18, 2016

You Are Not A Christian

Psst. Hey, you. Yeah, you. Are you a Christian? You are? Sorry, wrong answer. You’re nothing like Christ.

Now, what I’m about to say obviously doesn’t apply to all Christians, just about 98% of those
living in the United States. For some bizarre reason, for many who claim to be a follower of Christ and his teachings – hence the word ‘Christian’ – to be a Christian in America means to be anything but like Christ. For example, whereas it appears in the Bible that Jesus contemplated the old Jewish laws and reinterpreted them to his own liking (or whether an ‘unchanging’ God changed the rules), today’s American Christian is commonly devoid of the ability to reflect upon any matter that requires more than a fifth grade education. They simply stand by whatever Fox News’ personalities (not journalists) report or what their elected Republican representatives say. You simply can’t ask a Christian to do too much thinking. Don’t just don’t take my word for it, though; even the right-leaning magazine Business Insider shows a map [here] of the most- and least-educated states with the most educated states being those that are largely Democratic and the least educated dominated by conservative, Republican led states.

But I digress; being uneducated doesn’t mean you can’t follow the example or words of Christ. However, I suspect a lack of education leads people to avoid reflecting upon whether or not they are actually acting like Christ ‘cause in my experience, people who praise Jesus wouldn’t know Jesus if he came up to them and smacked them in the face (which, of course, Jesus wouldn’t really do). So what exactly do I mean when I say a ‘Christian’ isn’t exactly a Christian? What does it mean to be what I like to call, a Pretend Christian?

In the Book of Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus says, “You have heard it said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” Similarly, in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” Now, I surely understand how hard this may be to do in practice, but shouldn’t a Christian have a leg up on non-Christians in this respect? I mean, they’ve got the power of Christ behind them! But today’s American Christian acts nothing like this. Just one minute surfing the internet reveals unspeakable volumes of vitriol levied against people like Hillary Clinton and President Obama; we’re talking murder even! I’m pretty sure – judging by his words and commitment to be crucified – that Jesus was against violence. Jesus would never have owned a gun, not even as protection from the Romans who he knew were going to torture him. When you criticize or argue with an American Christian, their response is very rarely, “I love you” but instead “You’re going to burn in Hell forever and ever.” On occasion, a Christian will counter Jesus’ non-violence with the narrative in which he drives out the money changers from a temple by overturning their tables and (in the Book of John) using a whip, but it is quite clear Jesus never sought lasting harm to anyone and surely forgave the money changers for their offense, assuming Jesus was true to his own doctrine of forgiveness. Although Jesus says again in Matthew to love your neighbor as you love yourself and that this is the second greatest commandment, you’d be hard pressed to find an American Christian who doesn’t loathe another Christian not of their denomination or is otherwise a non-believer. (We can add to that any minority if we’re talking Southern Christians here.) So, if you proclaim to be Christian and levy insults and slur or resort to violence against your foes, you are not a Christian. If you say you’re a Christian and hate and condemn homosexuality which apparently wasn’t important enough for Jesus to talk about directly, you’re not a Christian. If you don’t, in the words of some more tolerant Christians of whom there are not enough, “Hate the sin but love the sinner,” you’re not a Christian because that’s exactly what Jesus would have done.

So far, I’ve stated the most blatant disregard for Jesus’ teachings. Some are more subtle. Many people claiming to be Christians are Republicans (and Jesus clearly steered clear of politics, saying in Luke 20:21-25 “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and what is God’s to God” and later “My kingdom is no part of this world”) with the Republican Party well known for their kowtowing to the rich and wealthy and supporting the death penalty. But what did Jesus say about rich people? When a rich man asked Jesus about what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus tells him in Mark 10:17-31, “Go and sell all your possessions and give money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven” and later “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” So why do so many professed Christians seek wealth, support the rich or support the people who support the rich? The only answer is that they do so because they’re not really a Christian. As for the death penalty, see above; you can’t possibly be Christian and support the death penalty.

Unfortunately, the typical American Christian cannot even follow Jesus’ most simple advice from the Book of Matthew, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” How many times have I heard tales of people being ostracized from a church for being a newcomer or not dressing properly or for not tithing enough! Jesus did call out these so-called Christians in Matthew 15, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘these people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.’” Now there’s a quote you never hear a rich, racist, xenophobic ‘Christian’ recite.

While I may be falling into the trap of the No True Scotsman fallacy, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ’s words and deeds to try and emulate those thoughts and deeds, or at least not think and act in exactly the opposite manner from Christ. Many of the words coming out of the mouths of ‘Christians’ these days and their actions are indefensible from Jesus’ point of view. They are, in other words, Pretend Christians.

Psst. Hey, you. Yeah, you. You’re not a Christian. Admit it already. You’re not going to Heaven either. Have a nice day.

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