Thursday, June 02, 2005

Evangelicals are hypocrites: Do not emulate them.

Evangelicals are hypocrites: Do not emulate them.

It is all well and good to call for the signing of endless petitions asserting some kind of ownership in a belief in Christ, but those are empty words. No one owns the message; but each of us can deliver it. How we do that tells everyone whether or not we are living in the Work.
It is not hard to tell. No one mistakes the concentration camps as acts of Christian love. No one who really looks and listens can believe that the evangelicals now pounding their chests and staking out the moral high ground are about anything but deceit. That many of them may be deceiving themselves as well is pathetic.
Those evangelical Christians who offend by using words to change His message are not acting as Christians. But are you? Christ is not about politics in the sense that politics can be used to force others to act. Christ is demonstrated in us when we act as Him, allowing the Gift of His spirit to move us in our own lives.
Sorry if this seems unkind but it should be so obvious. I spent most of my life as an atheist until Christ claimed me. But now I have no doubts.
Reclaiming Christianity cannot be done with words. As the gift was given so must it be lived. Only your acts have the power to affirm His message. Consider for a moment the message of Christ.
Christ gave us his body and blood as a meal to satisfy our needs. He did this freely. He could have at any time avoided the pain of torture and crucifixion. He welcomed it. This was not in His words but in the sacrifice of His human life on the Cross. That was the first part of His gift, but not the greater. The fact of His eventual death was determined at the moment he was born. What could death, even death on the Cross, be to the Son of God who clearly saw beyond its veil?
That death meant nothing. But then, He rose from the grave and appeared again among His followers to speak and to teach. He told them He had still one gift to give. And this time He gave His Spirit. It was not in words that He gave His spirit to dwell in each of us. This He did as a tangible, living act that broke His spirit like the loaf of bread He had held in His hands at the last Supper. After that moment in time we dwelt in Him, as He lives in us, all of us. It does not matter if you believe in Him, He lives in each of us no matter how we doubt and fear.
He has given this precious gift to each of us.
His actions changed the course of history. Because of His acts today we are different. The reality of his acts and Gift sent a message into the world that became greater than its parts. This happened because Christianity was not founded on words but on actions. If you would reclaim Christianity then you must retake it by the compounded acts of your life speaking out the simple but profound beliefs spoken by Jesus with His own life.
We are One in Him. What you do for anyone else so do you do for Him, directly and immediately. Love others as yourself. Love yourself so that you can love others.
This was foundational to the beliefs of the church Christ left behind in trust.
It was this belief made manifest throughout the first centuries of Christianity that changed the face of the world, moving humanity towards a vision of love and unity through the life of one Man.
As it was so it is today.
So toss that petition in the trash can. Now take your life, which is a gift from God, and make with it the living reality that speaks the essence of the message and the reality that is our living gift from the Messiah. Make your own statement. By so doing you will confound those who misuse Him.
Instead of requesting that someone else, in this case the government of the United States, care for others take up the duty left to you by Christ and do it with your own hands. In so doing you can bring the consciousness of Christ back into the world. Where there is disease, heal, as did the Christians of the early years.
In those early centuries the cities of the Roman Empire were frequently subject to plagues that killed thousands. As a practice, pagans had abandoned their own relatives to die when they fell ill. But early Christians, recognizing these victims as extensions of the Body of Christ, made them comfortable, feed them and tended to their needs. As a result as many as 70% lived. This was living the Word; the extrapolation of faith into acts.
The early church was a tool for making the Word real in the sight of all humanity. They heard and came. But this process was not through preaching words but in the eloquence of action.
There were many reasons for becoming Christian. To be Christian was to be persecuted, marginalized, despised. But it was also a force for change and the least among pagans saw, heard, and came.
For a woman becoming Christian meant that she owned herself. She could not be sold into marriage when she was as young as 10. She was not required to abort or kill her babies if her husband did not want them. She controlled her own property. If her husband died she was not given back to her father to be sold again into marriage. She could control and sell her own property and hold positions in the early Church. Many early Christian women did just that.
The promise of freedom built an early church culture of benevolence and love. 60% of early Christians were women. We know these things from careful study of the objective facts left behind, not from the obfuscations of later generations of 'church fathers.' Read the Rise of Christianity by Dr. Rodney Stark, a study in the sociology of the early church if you doubt.
The human spirit was hungry for more than food. They also hungered for freedom, especially the least of these, women. Women had no standing or rights in the pagan world.
That was the living truth on which Christianity flourished, the living word of Christ in works.
Where there was hunger, they feed that hunger. In a world that hungered mightily for freedom Christianity was a feast of the spirit. We know Christ today because that early church feed all of the hungers of a humanity with many needs.
We hunger for freedom today as much as for food to fill our bellies.
Where there is want and lack fill those needs.
It is much easier today than it was 2,000 years ago.
Now we have cooperative organizations enabled through our culture that allow us to donate, work, teach and heal with our spare time. Because we are more productive we have spare time. Go into your own community and see what needs to be done. Then do it.
Given the direction of the government of the United States and the message now being delivered by the Evangelicals awaiting the Rapture in the Rose Garden, there is, every day, more to be done.
Stop giving unto Caesar what is not due to him. Today you can choose. You can start giving to those who hunger for all of the things that the early church gave to those who they touched. Those things are still needed. You can hold up a mirror that makes the lies that offend you obvious to all who see.
But do it from your own heart, from your community, and from the love that Christ gave you without using the coercive power of government.
Christ never voted for the lesser of two evils and neither should you.

1 comment:

Norlyn Dimmitt said...

As a Unitarian Universalist who is in the "Christian wing" of the otherwise secular denomination, I could not feel more theological kinship. After reading Ursula King's spiritual biography of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, I began to revisit the Christian theology I so vociferously rejected.

I was indoctrinated in the fundamentalism of my misogynist and racist father, and grew to despise all organized religions (unless, like UU, they did not presume to dictate dogmas that had no empirical proof -- external or internal -- yet which serve to divide those with the "One Truth" from those without it).