I know, some would say it has always been hard to be a Christian, that the Christian life is very difficult, what with all the “take up your cross and follow me” stuff that Jesus said.
But I’m not talking about that. Read my other blog if you want deep thoughts.
No, what makes it hard to be a Christian today is all the embarrassing stuff that other Christians are saying – out loud! – in the name of God.
If you have checked out any of my links (over there on the right side of the page), you’ll see that I keep a finger on the pulse of the non-churched public as well as the religious types. Gay blogger Joe.My.God., in particular, frequently takes to task the hypocrisy of major Christian figures in the news.
I find myself constantly wanting to apologize to Joe for what these crackpots are saying!
Please understand – not all Christians are alike!
When I was younger, the American Family Association was the primary agitator. Its members “monitored” television shows, reporting to the AFA membership the number of profanities in each episode, as well as any other unsavory activities in the show. The organization frequently pushed for boycotts of products and companies that sponsored such shows, and occasionally pushed a boycott even when AFA had the facts wrong.
No, the original symbol for Procter & Gamble is not satanic, and no one from the company ever appeared on “The Tonight Show” admitting such!
Yet somehow the AFA still exists, and it is still launching boycotts. In fact, during this holy season, they have drafted a list of businesses who supposedly don’t allow their employees to wish customers “Merry Christmas!”
Suspiciously, they left off the list the overtly-Christian Chik-fil-A, which opted for the more inclusive “Happy Holidays!” this year.
Then there are the TV preachers. Who can forget the scandalous ministry of Jim and Tammy Bakker? Or the time God held Oral Roberts hostage, threatening to "call him home" if people didn't send him $900 million?
Most of us have long since gotten over Pat Robertson, who blames every tornado and hurricane on the wrath of God against homosexuals. It was with no little leap of joy that I watched him try to explain how he got God’s message wrong about the recent presidential election! But frankly, the man is 82 years old, and obviously bordering on dementia.
The Westboro Baptist Church continues to pop up in the news, spewing their unique brand of hatred in the name of God. Fortunately, the general public has risen up against Westboro and now stages counter-protests, coming between the Westboro haters and their intended targets.
And then there’s that preacher-guy in Florida with the biker mustache and a congregation of 20 followers who felt lead by God to burn the Muslim holy book, the Koran – despite warnings from our State Department that his actions would create even more problems for our troops in the Middle East.
And don't forget that old guy who predicted the end of the world last year.
I wonder what he's up to these days?
But the one that takes the cake this week is Scott Lively, a former California lawyer who is now leading a congregation of zealots in Massachusetts. When a local strip club was recently destroyed by a gas explosion, Lively gave God the glory, claiming that his congregation had been praying against that strip club (and other unsavory elements in the community) for more than two years.
Lively employs what are known as “imprecatory prayers”, based on Psalm 109, which asks for God to totally destroy His enemies. With this explosion, he claims, God finally and decisively acted.
Investigators, on the other hand, concluded that the explosion was due to an accident caused by a utility worker. But Lively still insists it was answered prayer.
Critics of Lively, questioning the efficacy of his claim, have pointed out that the strip club will probably sue the local utility company for millions of dollars. In effect, God has provided the club’s owners with a reason and the financial resources to build a bigger and better strip club in its place.
And non-Christians have been questioning why God would make the effort to strike down that particular strip club, when there are so many other things God could be doing with his time – like feeding the hungry and healing the sick.
More damning, however, was the realization that more than 20 people were injured in the blast, including firefighters responding to the alarm; and several other buildings were damaged, including a day care center.
Who would worship that kind of god?
Add to these the great number of people who were praying to God that President Obama would not get re-elected (including spiritual powerhouses like Pat Robertson and Billy Graham), and you have to wonder what God’s been up to lately!
“I know God was pretty busy last year helping Tim Tebow score touchdowns for the Denver Broncos, but from what I’ve seen this year, God apparently doesn’t care for the NY Jets! So what has he been doing, am I right?”
Do you see why I say it’s hard being a Christian today? I can’t compete with that!
While I’m out there trying to tell people about the loving and compassionate God of Christianity – the one who sent his Son to die for the sins of the world – I am constantly having to defend, deflect, and apologize for – not the Gospel message – but the pronouncements of all these other haters and crazies who claim to be speaking for my God!
They’re just making my job harder, that’s all.