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Eric's Sunday Sermon; How To Be Christian In An UnChristian World
A new day is dawning
What is an unchristian world?
First let me shock you. Even Christians do not act like Christians most the time. Most the time they act secular. And that is fine. There is a funny line from somewhere: Don’t make me go all crazy on you. We cover that this way. Don’t make me go all secular on you. Or. Don’t make me go all Christian on you.
Nobody stays on script and in character all the time. I love getting my nontheistic buddies to get sucked into something mystic. I like getting my all uptight Christian folk to get a hold of some “let loose”. We are all a bit of something and something else. That really is a very neat thing. Oh you got your Bible thumpers on one side yelling hypocrite and your secularists on the other side yelling hypocrite at you. That is all well and good. If being a hypocrite means seeing both sides of an issue – please call me a Christian hypocrite. If it means not walking perfectly in line with what you are talking call me a human.
It is a beautiful thing this noble endeavor to be just complacent enough to feel the human side of life and not the dogma side of reality. I like my role in this human drama. My role is to be human and not perfect. I sure am glad I was not cast in a role requiring me to be a perfect something whether secular or Christian.
So when I say “an unchristian world” you know what I mean. I do not mean that there are not enough Christians out there. What I mean is that in the day to day there is not enough Christian attitude being shown by example. Yours truly is guilty. Could it be that all the “other stuff” Christians do gets in the way and takes a priority over the greatest of all commandments? John 13:34 “"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” And that which accompanies it: 1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” You see real Christian living does not mean we follow a dogma or doctrine, it means we follow Christ. Nowhere else does Christ issue a direct unequivocal command. And here is the real kicker. If you spend all your time and effort trying to live up to this command then you have not time to follow any other “rules”. Show me a man who is perfect in being “in love” and I will show you someone doesn’t follow any other rule. All the other rules are consumed in the one command. Try it for a week. And so that brings us to quoting and reading the Bible. If it is done in pure love then there is no conflict with anything else. All matters contained therein must be viewed as complimenting love. If you read it differently then you miss the point.
Keep it fresh
Look to something greater than yourself
Through the lens of love
If you have in your head an angry and vengeful God, how can that possibly reconcile with love? Try it sometime. Go ahead. Be careful. Try to be angry and vengeful and in love at the same time. If God is Love and we take a single verse of the Bible to show vengeance then we must have misread it and should go back and try again. If that is just too simple for you you can go to a pretty all-encompassing verse from our pal Paul: 1 Cor 13:4-8 “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” I just do not see anger and vengefulness in that list. I don’t think that is a typo or something that was forgotten or taken out.
So what of this converting people because we are told to do it? Well that would be a secondary concept. It can only be done in love. So what of this eye for and eye business? Well that would be secondary and can only be done in love. Simply put: If you cannot conduct yourself or interpret the Bible in love leave it alone.
And here is the fun part. I am a bit of a scholarly dude. I can study books and texts from other cultures and religions. And I can take from those matters things that are helpful in my understanding of love. Well now if I can do that then so can an atheist. You see one does not have to be a Christian in order to gleam important good stuff from good books including the Bible. I actually quote it here as a good reference. What is cool about things that just are good is that you do not have to buy in completely. You can take the good in it and scratch your head at the rest. If I am a terrible man but say something wise, you can take my wisdom and leave the rest of me behind. And so it is back to the beginning here. How do I act as a Christian in an unchristian world? I can take love from just about anyone and leave the rest behind me.
I am not that great of a gardener
What a beautiful thought
Peace be with you
My father told me that a famous quote from Will Rogers was taken and changed. “I have never met a man I did not like” Was really; “I have never met a man I could not find something to like about”. If you are a fan of such greats as Rogers and Yogi Berra then you know that the second quote is more in line with the speech patterns of such men. But the point is clear. If we look for the good we will find it, and we ought to respond in kind.
I know an atheist dude. I asked him how he found it within himself to do such good. He told me that he tried to follow the example of Christ. Does that make him a Christian? A follower of Christ? Interesting. But of course we say he must have faith in order to be a Christian. Let me tell you something real true. In my short time as a preacher man. Through questions presented to me I came to realize that about half the people in the pews had questions of faith. Most just would not admit it out loud. But almost all had some reservation or doubts. That is human nature. So we look at the proclaimed doubter as worse off than us regular old “keep it quiet” doubters? I wonder about the wisdom of that.
Once again back to our beginning. You can do it and it is not a battle to be Christian in an unchristian world. There is no great conflict. The battle between good and evil does not have to be fought in order to be won. Good just needs to be our focus and good will win. Love is the answer to all our problems today, tomorrow and yesterday. Interpret and intercede in this secular world with love and you shall live a Christian life. The other stuff is just stuff.