“The Agnostic Pentecostal” is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs, because Dave, the blog’s author, insists on asking hard questions and providing brutally, sometimes painfully, honest answers.
One of his recent posts hits home hard for me because I find myself square in the middle of it … I don’t have to look any farther than the first and second paragraphs, in which he asks, “Who’s really a ‘true’ Christian?” And follows the question up with an all-too-familiar scenario:
It seems every time someone points out a flaw about Christianity, perhaps calling out the questionable behavior of a Christian leader or even something more subtle, other Christians use the defense, “That’s right! But they’re not a true Christian.” Some examples:
When non-Christians speak of the failings of Ted Haggard or Eddie Long as proof that Christianity is worthless, liberal-progressive Christians like to point out how they’re not like that, or even use it as an example of how their form of faith is better. How that (conservative, Charismatic, megachurch) stream of Christianity is not the real Christianity. How real Christianity is about social justice and sound reasoning and such.
And he goes on to provide example after example of Christians entangling themselves – or more accurately, ourselves – painfully and obviously in a one No True Scotsman after another. Instead, he tells us – or better, me – to shut up. And he’s right. Or at least I think he is.
I talk too much. I think too much. And as a result, I don’t act enough. Sometimes I get preoccupied with philosophy, or theology, or science – all good things. Other times I get into sometimes friendly sometimes not so friendly talks with atheists about God’s existence and whether or not God’s existence matters to us homo sapiens habiting Earth – which in my view, is a good thing. And other times, I busy myself with convincing others that this criminal televangelist that steals from the poor or that child-molesting youth pastor isn’t what Christianity is all about.
Good things or not, fact is, it’s all talk. And if Dave’s right … then maybe all that talk’s not as valuable as I want it to be. Here’s his take on Jesus and the Great Commandment:
And Jesus himself hit on it with the advice that he said sums up all the religious rules. Unfortunately, many Christian leaders might say that something like it is too vague, too nonspecific, and not clear enough for the average person to put into real practice. It was Jesus’ primary directive: “Love God. Love others. That’s it.” (Matthew 22:36)
Have you ever asked yourself, “What if … that actually is it? What if Jesus actually meant those words, and those are the only two things that ultimately matter?”
I can’t answer those questions for you, and I won’t try.
But in this moment, I know that’s true for me and my journey following Jesus. And as a result, I’m going to make a conscious effort to not talk so much about things that don’t further Jesus’ primary directive in my life or the lives of others. So the next time Pat Robertson blames an earthquake on the gays or secret pacts with the devil, etc., etc., I will remain silent about those goings on.
But I won’t do nothing, for that would be to err in the opposite direction. Instead, I seek out a way for my actions to speak more loudly than my words or the words of others.