As I am prone to do, I’ve gotten into a discussion related to a blog post by the head pastor at the church that Alissa and I now attend. I think it’s a great post, but somehow the discussion spun off into a conversation about evolution, and that’s where I jumped in. I won’t recap the whole comment thread for you, as it’s available for your reading.
What the discusssion brought to mind was a serious mistake that Christians often make in relation to those who don’t share our faith. The mistake is to assume that Christianity makes any sense whatsoever. It doesn’t. No, let me correct myself. It does not make sense without faith. In it’s purest form, Christianity is a religion that operates counter to the way the “real” world operates. Moreover, the more is operates in harmony with that “real” world, the less pure it becomes.
Think about it. Jesus calls His followers to give all they have to the poor. He calls us to non-violence, to humility and mercy. He calls us to do justice and to share his message without violence or coercion. The world does not work that way. The world calls us to take care of ourselves, to accumulate money. It tells us that it’s violence justifies other violence and even conquest. He calls us to all these things as an attempt to follow His example, knowing that His example is impossible to duplicate because he is the only sinless person in history. He’s sinless because He is God, but even though He is sinless, He had to die because the leaders of His people feared His challenge to their power to enforce His law, and that by His death he was able to secure entry into Heaven for all that acknowledge their sinfulness, accept His forgivness, and follow His teachings! Huh? He could have easily appeared in a cloud and gotten all sorts of obedience out of fear and awe, but He chose a path of humility that put Him in opposition with the wealthy and powerful and in solidarity with the poor and marginalized.
So He was killed. Christians, based on the testimony of a whole lot fewer people than claim to see Elvis at the supermarket in a given day believe he rose from the dead and left a ghost (what?!) to empower His followers to continue His work. His followers, over the centuries have endured persecution, torture, poverty, social ostracism and death to act in support of these beliefs.
And of course, we don’t always get it right. The Crusades, the Inquisition, Colonialism, Slavery, Imperialism, all in the name of Jesus have filled far too many graves and hardened too many hearts against the Gospel message of God’s love for all of humanity.
If you’re a Christian, look at your faith from the outside. If you didn’t already believe, wouldn’t the story strain credulity? So the next time you’re in a conversation with someone who thinks that your faith, our faith, doesn’t make sense, agree with them, because it’s true. Christianity is not self-evident without faith, and that faith is not built on an assumption. It’s built on relationship, intimacy, prayer, love.
I’m no scholar on this material. I’m just kind of throwing out thoughts.