Each Sunday, millions of Christians in America gather to worship the God who commands us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We belt out praises to the God who tells us that “pure and undefiled religion is caring for widows and orphans in their distress.” We kneel in pious prayer before the Almighty God of the universe who describes Himself as loving, gracious, merciful, and generous.
Then, we walk out the back door of the church, step into a world in need, and proceed to withhold the love, grace, and mercy that’s extended to us.
We might as well give God the middle finger. Outside of a tiny minority of Christians, we have become a self-centered group of priggish snobs.
In short, we s**k.
Before you pick up a rock and throw it at me, think about this: I could have used other words that aren’t as nice as “s**k.” Like “white-washed tombs,” “brood of vipers,” “fools,” or the ever ego-inflating, “Get behind me Satan!” Jesus used all of these choice phrases to describe religious leaders and some of his closest of followers.
But calling someone a white-washed tomb just doesn’t cut it anymore. "We s**k" is a much better choice for our cultural context. Poverty s**ks. Divorce s**ks. And, unfortunately, some Christians s**k, too.
Here are the facts:
Eighty-five percent of young people outside the church who have had connection to Christians believe present-day Christianity is hypocritical. Inside the church, forty-seven percent of young people believe the same thing.
And why wouldn't they?
- 80 percent of the world’s evangelical wealth is in North America.
And let's take a peek in on our neighbors:
- More than 1 billion people live in absolute poverty.
- 500 million people are at the edge of starvation.
- 200 million children are being exploited as laborers.
- Half of the human beings on the planet live on less than $2/day.
- 1.5 billion people do not have enough money to buy food.
This is information that anyone can collect from the Internet, just as I did. Any reasonable person could make this simple conclusion: Most American Christians do not care about what God says in the Bible. We pick out the scriptures we like, as if we were dining at a five-star buffet. We conveniently ignore the scriptures that talk about caring for the poor, giving away material possessions, and loving money. Scriptures like:
"Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” (James 1:26-27)
"Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?" (James 2:15-17)
"If you have two coats, give one away," [Jesus] said. "Do the same with your food." (Luke 3:11)
When Christians care about their political views, what sexual preference someone has, or their bank account more than they care about the millions of people who die in the world because they don’t have five dollars to buy the medicine that would cure them, something has gone drastically wrong.
These kinds of Christians s**k.
What can we do to stop s**king? I think the answer is relatively simple. It's found in the Bible:
“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
Give away material possessions to those in need, love the unlovely, take care of the widow and orphan. This is not rocket science. It just takes a heart committed to doing the things God said to do.
Want ten simple steps? You got it.
Christians, listen up: People are tired of being criticized, judged, and listening to the lip service we are so great at giving. Instead, why don’t we commit to making the changes we can make?
Christianity needs a renewal of the principles that made it great. It needs to be more like Jesus—compassionate, self-sacrificial, unconditionally loving, and caring for those who are most in need. That kind of lifestyle allowed twelve men to change the world. It will help you change yours, too.