"Christianity" has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed "spiritual" substitute. For example, rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:It resonated with me a bit because last month I was talking with a guy who runs a home for migrants and Christians in trouble. What he found was that many of the (Asian) migrants were far better human beings than the local Christians. The foreigners would help with household chores cheerfully and without complaining, while the Christians would often complain or avoid helping altogether and were often surly and unpleasant to be around. This was a problem for that guy and it is clearly a problem for Richard Beck. You can read Beck's article for yourself but I think he has two main concerns.
The point is that one can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being. Much of this activity can actually distract one from becoming a more decent human being. In fact, some of these activities make you worse, interpersonally speaking. Many churches are jerk factories.
- Going to church
- Spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)
- Bible study
- Voting Republican
- Going on spiritual retreats
- Reading religious books
- Arguing with evolutionists
- Sending your child to a Christian school or providing education at home
- Using religious language
- Avoiding R-rated movies
- Not reading Harry Potter.
- Christians are supposed to be nice people
- If Christians aren't nice people that will put others off Christianity
Now I am all for decent human behaviour, I get very stressed by people who are rude or antisocial and do not respect others. But on the other hand I'm not sure the jerk factory is the church. I encounter jerks everywhere. Today I had to ask one jerk to collect the turd that his dog/wolf left on my front lawn. Jerks regularly leave their rubbish around the parks and beaches where I like to walk. A beaurocratic jerk sent a 30 page document back to me because one word was missing from my address when I wrote it for the 3rd time, despite the fact that that word was not necessary for the address to be clearer as there is only one road by the name in the entire country! Jerks are endemic, prolific and pretty much under or crapping on every rock you pass. And so in a world loaded with jerks you kind of hope lots of Christians are jerks because well, if God doesn't save jerks then we're screwed. Yes I would hope being a Christian would mitigate that behaviour, and as sanctificatinon takes place jerkish behaviour should reduce. I don't have a problem with wanting Christians to work on not being such jerks - I'm working on such things myself and on myself.
But here's the thing. I don't believe if all Christians stop being jerks everyone is suddenly going to convert. "Wow you Christians are such nice people can I join your wierd religious club?" And neither do I believe it is an acceptable excuse for turning your back on God just because Christians/church didn't behave very well sometime. I see jerks everyday on the road, I still drive a car. I hear jerks everyday on the radio phone ins, I still use a phone and listen to the radio. Jerks go to supermarkets, schools, swimming pools and beaches but I do not use their behaviour as a reason to put me off these activities. But people often use the jerks in church as an excuse not to be part of what God is doing in the world, and frankly that is a pathetic reason. And now Beck has validated one more poor excuse for turning your back on God, "those Christians don't tip very well." But I am unvalidating it. If you are letting jerks put you off from the glories and hope of Jesus Christ, stop it right now!
Why should your salvation be dependent on the actions of jerks?