Chill out, Christians
I was watching TV the other night, and happened on the “Jesus Channel,” as my teenage daughter calls it. I often watch this channel like I gawk at a terrible car accident—it’s horrific to watch, but I find it hard to turn away. A self-described “prophetess” was screaming into the camera, something about God’s judgment on New Orleans. She warned of additional future calamities—"secrets"—God had revealed to her only. She offered to let us in on it all, for only $19.95. Yes, it’s all in her book.
I had been enjoying a glass of wine, and as I watched, I found I had to have another. Christian TV was driving me to drink. No wonder we are made fun of, no wonder people are staying away from churches in droves. Much of the time I am embarrassed to be a Christian—not ashamed of the Gospel, just ashamed of the antics and arrogance of many who claim to follow Christ. I find myself increasingly more comfortable around “non-believers.” I was feeling guilty about that until someone reminded me that Jesus pretty much hung around hookers and winos. His only interaction with religious people of His day was to call them a “brood of vipers,” and “white-washed sepulchers.” The former, I think, refers to snakes; the latter, clean-looking tombstones. We Christians are good at looking good, it’s the being real we suck at.
Brennan Manning, a self-described recovering Catholic priest/alcoholic, in his book, Ruthless Trust, says, “The great weakness in the North American church at large, and certainly in my life, is our refusal to accept our brokenness. We hide it, evade it, gloss over it. We grab the cosmetic kit and put on our virtuous face to make ourselves admirable to the public.” The sad thing is, this faking it fools fellow Christians, but not others. We appear to be like the Wizard of Oz, exposed for the fraud we are, despite all the chest-beating and theatrics.
To my non-Christian friends, I am sorry for our poor representation of Jesus; I still believe He is literally “all that.” To my Christian friends, you’re not fooling everybody—you are broken, like all of us. Dial down the “dig me” routine—and have some fun, go dancing, drink some wine. Jesus did.