Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

What If all Christians aren’t Deluded?

Posted: April 25, 2012 by Nathan in What If...
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Marx stated that religion is the opiate of the masses. The implication here being that it is OK for the non thinking working man but not for anyone with a working brain. Many people still see Christianity as a crutch for the weak and gullible. So how true is this view?

I heard some once say that the reason that he decided to look into Christianity in the first instance was that he decided that all these millions of Christians around the world couldn’t all be totally mad! What he found changed his life forever. It is easy to think that Christianity is OK for those that need it. For those that need an opiate or a crutch. Let’s also be honest that, discounting it’s truth or lack of it, Christianity does good for many many people. God in the lives of millions of people is seen by those people as a good and beneficial thing. However, surely all these millions don’t all need Christianity as a crutch? Would they all fall apart without it? Is it just for the week and the vulnerable? Are the followers of Christianity all mad or could it be that they have discovered a truth in what they believe?

It is easy to look at the history of Christianity and believe that it’s followers are deluded. If you look at the crusades it is hard to believe that theses followers of a, so called, religion of love could be anything but deluded. When we look at the wars that have been waged in the name of Christianity over the years, again, it is easy to conclude that these are mad people who have just gotten it all wrong. And so it may be. I believe there is little of no justification for these acts. However, I do believe that there is an explanation. People’s beliefs, when held strongly cause passion to rise and reason to fall. It is why people blow themselves and others up in the name of their beliefs. It is why wars have been fought for years in the name of religion. Not only do they have a passion they have a justification and a, so called, calling. They have people behind them and a perceived enemy and threat to their belief in front of them. As far as Christianity is concerned I believe it is not a religion but a relationship. A relationship formed in love. If you take the love aspect away from Christianity you get religion. Here we find the problem with the crusades. They had the passion without the love to restrain and guide it. The same is true of wars in which Christians have been involved. They have the passion to fight the good fight but not the love to show them who the real enemy is. The Bible clearly teaches us that our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities of this world. So it is easy to look at history and conclude that Christians have got it very wrong, that they are in some ways deluded or mad. However, can what they believe in be discounted because of their actions? Is God less real because of what people believe about him. The answer has to be no! God does not exist because I believe in him nor does he not exist because others disbelieve his existence. If I chose to believe the sun is made of chocolate and therefore wear no sun tan lotion because of my belief doesn’t mean the sun isn’t made of gases and also doesn’t mean I WON’T get burnt.

So God can’t be judged by those that follow him. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make you perfect, far from it. Becoming a Christian gives you forgiveness, mercy and grace but definitely not perfection. It gives you a reason to seek after doing good and getting things right but Christians are still very human. There is no mistaking that Christians over the centuries have made huge mistakes. There is no mistaking that some Christians are on the crazier side of sane. There is also no mistake that Christians, myself included, continue to make mistakes and are far from perfect. However, have we all really got it so wrong. Are we all really that deluded. Or is it possible that there is something that is worth looking into? Is there possibly something that can begin to make sense of the life that we’ve been given? Don’t get me wrong belief in God won’t give you all the answers, in fact in the short term it could raise more than it answers. However, Christianity will provide you with a firm foundation on which to build. The Bible describes Jesus as being our Rock on which to build our lives.

So what about today? Is it just the weak and the dumb that believe? In a world where science is touted as king are there intelligent people out there that have weighed up the evidence and have faith that the God of the Bible exists? Well the simple answer is a resounding YES!! There are millions of educated, intelligent, perfectly sane people that put their trust in God. Not a blind faith but a faith born out of research, thought and a weighing up of the evidence. So are all Christians deluded? Perhaps it may be worth finding out!

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As far as I know there aren’t too many people that have been hurt by the church worldwide. In fact there aren’t that many people that have been hurt by complete individual churches. However, when most people say that they’ve been hurt by the church they really mean they’ve been hurt by a particular individual or small group of individuals within a church. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the hurt any less real or what these individuals did any less wrong. It does, however, help us to try and think about it with a better perspective. Would you blame a billion people for the actions of an individual? Would you miss out on winning the lottery because the newsagent was rude?

Whenever we enter into relationship with others we put ourselves in a place of vulnerability. If we are married it is our spouse that is likely to cause us more pain than anyone else. If we have children they are likely to cause us a different by still real and intense pain. Those we love the most and those that love us the most have the likelihood to cause us the most pain. Churches are meant to be places of security, love, care, intimacy, peace and trust. However, churches are made up of people, albeit Christian people. Now, people think that Christians are meant to be almost perfect. Let’s face it many Christians portray themselves that way. Christians should be better people than non-Christians, there is no question about it. Christians have a purpose, a calling, a God who instructs and a Holy Spirit that guide. Christian have been shown through Jesus and the Bible the way they should live and have been put into churches to help them along. However, Christians are still erring human beings with more faults than you can shake a stick at. Let’s be realistic a compulsive liar who becomes a Christian will still be a compulsive liar from one day to the next. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make to perfect overnight. The compulsive liar may double his efforts not to lie once he has become a Christian but he will still struggle with it for years and may never overcome the temptation to continue lying.

Christians are not perfect. The Bible tells us that if we claim we have no sin the truth is not in us and we deceive ourselves. If you join a church and enter into relationship with people there they will let you down, they will hurt you, they will fall short of your expectations and let’s be really honest you will do the same to them. I guess the reason that many people feel hurt, let down, disappointed by the church is that our expectations of Christians is higher than they should be. We expect Christians to be loving, caring, kind, compassionate, trustworthy, honest, patient and selfless. Not only that but we expect that of them 24 hours a day 7 days a week 52 weeks a year. So when a Christian has an off day and every Christian does it is a big shock to the system. We feel doubly let down. Also there are people in churches who not only are not nice and loving and caring they are downright horrible, spiteful, hurtful and abusive. I’d like to tell you that these people are just wolves in sheep’s clothing, they’re not Christians but just pose as Christians to give Christians a bad name. Unfortunately, I can’t. Although there are people like this who go along to church, say the right things, do the right things and act as if they were Christians but in they’re hearts are far from it, there are also Christians who are far far far from what God would want them to be. Churches, like most big organisations are full of a wide range of people, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Jesus knew that His followers would not be anywhere near perfect. In the account of Jesus’ life that Saint Matthew wrote we read…

Then Peter came and said to Him (Jesus), “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus knew that we would continue to hurt each other. In this passage both seven and seventy are seen as perfect numbers so when Jesus say seven times seventy the implication is that we forgive our brother as many times as is necessary. I’m not trying to use this passage to say, get over it, forgive and bounce back. All I’m trying to show is that Jesus know that his church wouldn’t be this perfect community of believers who did nothing wrong. He knew that we would be needing to continually forgive each other because we would continually hurt each other. When people are in relationship together hurts happen – FACT! This is not an excuse – we should try and live together in unity, causing no hurt and being loving, caring, selfless individuals as much as we possibly can. However, we ALL make mistakes, we ALL have off-days, we ALL have things we struggle with, we are ALL tempted to do wrong, we are ALL human.

Now, here’s the thing… do we let our hurts, grievances, fall-outs and feuds keep us from what God has in store for us? Do we let these things get in the way of seeking the truth? Do we stop believing because we’ve been hurt? Do we give up the riches that God has for us because we’ve had a tiff with someone? Only you can answer these questions. However, I urge you to seriously think about them. Think about them in the light that one person or a small group don’t represent the whole church. Think about them in the light of Jesus being the only perfect person – he will never hurt you or let you down. Think about them remembering that people are flawed, faulty and very imperfect, but also think about them knowing that you are also flawed, faulty and very imperfect – but that God loves you just the way you are.