Christians, be warned. People are watching. They are making mental notes on what they hear us say and what they see us do. Many of them will jump at the chance to prove that we are not what we profess to be and that our beliefs won’t hold water.
Bill Maher is a prime example. He is a well-known comedic personality who is a long-time critic of religion. His recent documentary ‘Religulous’, is a compilation of taped interviews and short clips showing quirky religious practices and weird ‘spirit-filled’ behavior. His intent is to make all believers look like ridiculous fools. Unfortunately, the most vocal professed Christians getting national publicity are very often Biblically off-base, making it easy for skeptics to prove their point. One of his video clips shows a church group carrying around signs saying“God Hates Fags”; suggesting that this group depicts the mindset of the entire Christian community.
It does not. True Christians wouldn’t approve of anything that clearly goes against God’s standard of love. How could this type of behavior convince people that God is a loving creator? Throughout the bible God shows that His nature toward all mankind is loving and protective. Scripture says that God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son for the forgiveness of our sins so that we would all have access to salvation. God doesn’t hate people. It is our immoral behavior that He is against—and even then, He is quick to forgive anyone who admits they’ve done wrong and is committed to doing right.
Bill Maher is also an advisory board member of Project Reason, a foundation to promote scientific knowledge and secular values within society. One of their projects is titled“The Scripture Project”, which they claim exists as a source of criticism, insight and annotation of scripture from many kinds of world religions. Part of their mission statement states…”While the foundation is devoted to fostering critical thinking generally, we believe that religious ideas require a special focus. Both science and the arts are built upon cultures of vigorous self-criticism; religious discourse is not. As a result, religious dogmatism still reigns unchallenged in almost every society on earth—dividing humanity from itself, inflaming conflict, preventing wise public policy, and diverting scarce resources. One of the primary goals of Project Reason is to change this increasingly unhealthy status quo.”
I advocate sincere inquiry. However, Mr. Maher asks questions but rarely listens to answers without interjecting an insult or snide remark; even dismissing statements of fact that do not line up with his viewpoint. He considers people of faith a bunch of idiots who can’t tell the difference between fairy tales and truth; going as far as comparing Christ with Santa.
Although Mr. Maher proves to be an arrogant, abrasive individual I cannot dismiss his viewpoints without thoughtful consideration since many others feel the same. People have told me that they don’t want anything to do with church anymore because they have been disappointed by the hypocrisy of church leaders and members alike. They are convinced that all Christians are phonies, who preach one thing and do something entirely different. While this is clearly not the case for all believers, it is for some.
Our most charismatic preachers, who may have started out with the right motives, often end up on television with large cyber-baskets in hand. Too many of our church leaders say whatever will tickle the ear to keep the big ‘tithers’ happy. In the name of Jesus they make claims that shouldn’t be made. They dupe the biblically uninformed into believing that reaching deep into their pockets is going to please God, and cure all their ills to boot. How many wounded people have reached out to Christians for help, and have gotten salt poured in their wounds instead?
Too many of us are biased and judgmental–rigid advocates of our own religious traditions. We want to increase church attendance while giving the cold shoulder to visitors who don’t fit in. Let us not call ourselves Christians if we can’t reach out into the crowd of outcasts in love. Christ did. Shouldn’t we? How else will tormented people get answers to their problems and hope for their future? Segregation of any kind is not mentioned as a Christian quality in my bible.
Let’s get off our high horses and stop thinking that their sin is worse than ours. Let’s stop pointing the finger at someone’s ungodly lifestyle, while we secretly kill someone’s reputation by“sharing what we’ve heard.”We are all guilty of wrong behavior. Let’s have the courage and discipline to clean up our act before trying to clean up the other guy’s. We must not fool ourselves into thinking that we are reflecting Christ’s character and pleasing God while looking down our noses at our fellow men. We are supposed to be the reflection of God on earth. Our ungodly attitudes and behavior are a major cause of this drifting away from religion. People are searching for love, acceptance and purpose and have been hurt and rejected by Christians. Because they have confused flawed people with a perfect God, they have walked away from Him altogether. This needs to change before more are lost. The change begins with each one of us.
We must seek to know the truth—even if the truth does not match up with what we have heard from a pulpit or read in a book other than the bible. Scripture is a Christian’s sole source of authority, but if we don’t know what scripture says, we will find ourselves getting chewed up and spit out by people who want to prove us wrong.
1Peter 3:15 states “ …be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. This scripture is at the top of the Scripture Project’s website. These skeptics are letting us know that they have read our book and are on a mission to prove that our beliefs are ill founded. We’re being challenged to defend what we believe.
Learn to recognize the truth from a lie when you hear it. People will misquote scripture or use it out of context to make their points. If you have not studied scripture for yourself how will you know that they are wrong? Satan quoted a part of scripture to Jesus to cause Him to doubt. Christ recognized the lie.
Know what you believe and why. Know what God expects of you and what you can expect from Him. Let us study to show ourselves worthy of being members of God’s family. Then by our actions let us show in whom we truly believe.