Monday, April 17, 2006

"They Have Taken Away My Lord"

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." John

Last week I blogged about my online conversation, as part of a small group, with a member of the Church of Satan. It didn't go over too well -- she left in a huff, bemoaning the "waste of time" she'd just put herself through talking to us. But beneath all the anger and bluster and sarcasm, I heard the hint of a different message: They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.

The "cultured despisers of religion" in our society certainly seem to get a boost out of alienating others from God by cultivating skepticism, cynicism and a kind of spiritually and aesthetically sterile hyper-rationalism. But it's too easy to make these folks the villains. The sad fact is, a lot of Christians seem to delight in taking away the Lord from others. Sometimes it's a matter of deeming those people unworthy of knowing Christ. (As if any of us are "worthy.") Sometimes it's a matter of elevating theological abstractions and cherished sectarian "best practices" over loving others and living out the radical inbreaking Reign of God that Jesus preached and modeled in his own dealings with people. And sometimes it's just ham-handed, thick-tongued, empty-headed cluelessness.

But no matter what the motivation, the end result can be someone longing on some level for a relationship with God, but walking away from God because of the words and behavior of God's self-professed friends. I know this because I lived it. And I've seen it happen over and over again: walking wounded who, after being buffeted by a litany of anti-Christian rhetoric and/or stabbed in the back by daggers of "Christian love," come to the conclusion that if this is what Christianity is all about they're having none of it.

The good news is that the Christ who overcame death and the grave can also overcome the harebrained behavior of his followers as well as the bile of his detractors, and the disbelief and despair both groups create.

Which brings the discussion back Do we want to be conduits of Christ's love and grace to people who have perhaps only experienced a distorted cariacature of Chrsitianity? And if we do, how can we do that?

Artwork: Kristus ja Mataleena, A. Edelbert


Weekend Fisher said...

It's strange, when I'm trying hard I think, looking back, that I can be pretty annoying. And then the other day somebody said that something I'd said off-the-cuff had really helped -- when I wasn't watching myself. I'm looking really closely at what you're saying -- a distorted caricature of Christianity. Is that the same as my being a distorted caricature of Christ? Lord have mercy.

Rainbow Pastor said...

THank you, LC! Like Weekend Fisher, I try to remember that I am Christianity with a capital C when I'm out and about in the community.
You've given me the seed for my blog this morning--thank you twice!

Inheritor of Heaven said...

I think that is why we really need to be attuned to the Holy Spirit and to let our minds and hearts be transformed and renewed first. Then we could listen to what the Holy Spirit wanted to say before letting our tongues wag, since they would on their own power unleash the fires of hell into the situation at hand (and when the situation at hand is a persons life there are Kingdom ramifications). Sounds so simple doesn't it? We too often get in the way of the Gospel by our own self-serving, self-preserving words and actions.

hipastorzwife2B said...

This was beautiful and thought-provoking. Thank you.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

There is an interesting book on the subject of asking for God's wisdom in what to say to people. Unfortunately, this book isn't listed on Amazon, although there are other books by this author, an acquaintance of mine from church.

The book God's Wisdom "my tongue" (2002) by Keith J. Leenhouts, JD is based on his experience and stories from other Christians. "This gift of the Holy Spirit called the utterance of wisdom by St. Paul is biblical and perhaps best described in Isaiah 50:4 (KJV)."

Keith describes a number of incidences in which people prayed for what to say and the Holy Spirit apparently bypassed their brain, putting the words right into their "tongue" as the Bible says. Some of the stories related in the book are from the experiences of people in the orgainzations listed below.

Keith is a retired judge. He put his Christian faith into action as Executive Director of Volunteers in Probabion Inc. 1969 - 1994 and Executive Director, Court Volunteer Services National Judician College, 1994 to date.