Creflo Dollar wants a new airplane. I must say, I don’t blame him. I blame his congregation. I got into a huge argument with an (ex) friend who attended his church. He went on and on about how no one would follow a pastor who wasn’t prosperous himself. Hmmm, I dunno, but it seems to me that the founder of Christianity was an unemployed carpenter, who as far as we know owned nothing. It’s not the man, it’s the Word, and if the Word isn’t strong enough that’s on you. I also know that the one act of violence that man is recorded having committed involved kicking moneychangers out of the Temple. I don’t know about you, but the notion of putting the words prosperity and Gospel together sounds blasphemous as all get out to me. I went to a church with a friend when I first moved to Atlanta and they had ATMs in the lobby. I was like, “Oh heck no. I’m not going in there.” It makes me wonder if any of these people have even heard of the Gospels, let alone read them.
I don’t ever want to attend a church that has 20k members. That tells me straight up that the pastor isn’t challenging the congregation. At its core Christianity is a resistance movement. 20k people aren’t going to join a resistance movement it’s too much work. A church with 20k members isn’t a church, it’s a social club. If a pastor is truly preaching the Gospel half his congregation is going to be mad at him on a regular basis. Not following his every word like lemmings off a cliff. Being a Christian should be hard, it shouldn’t be a a part of a socially accepted norm. It should push you outside the boundaries. It should push you to think. To question. Churches that do that don’t have 20k members.
Because Christianity is a resistance movement, it runs counter to human nature. Think about it for a moment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Note, no exceptions are given for race, creed, color or running the leaf blower at 7:00 a.m. You have to love him. That means if your neighbor is hungry you must feed him. If he’s sick you must nurse him. Again, no exceptions for whether your neighbor is an addict, or irresponsible or smells bad. That’s pretty radical and if this were truly a Christian nation there would be no hungry, or homeless people. If we did what Jesus actually said it would hurt like hell, which is why we don’t do it. And because Christianity is a resistance movement the notion of a “Christian nation” should be an anathema. Resistance movements by their very nature don’t build nations. Christians should be marginalized. Shunned. Because what Christians believe and practice should be so radical it scares the living hell out of people. And that is the point.
One of the most amazing services I ever attended was at the Episcopal church. It was an Easter service and yes it had all the pretty rituals with the censer and all. But at the end the priest bellowed, “Jesus said, ‘Tend my sheep.’ You’re Christians now go out there and act like it!” Then he doused us in holy water and sent us out to do our job.
See, it’s easy for people to come out against gay marriage and abortion and all these so-called “social issues.” That appeals to our baser nature, our need to look down on someone, to be better than others. “you’re going to hell,” we say with a wag of our finger. “I’m saved,” we taunt with the same smugness of an eight year old who snagged the last popsicle. There’s a song with a chorus that says, “You will know we are Christians by our love.” That’s what Christianity is all about, love. And not this soft, soap operary emotion we trot out for the commercial holidays. Love is powerful. Love is strong. Radical love that can move the world. We are known by who we love, not who we shun.
Being a Christian means going outside societal norms and embracing that which is shunned. Advocating for the poor and downtrodden, eschewing material wealth and goods. Being a Christian doesn’t mean being mindless and unquestioning. We must question eveything, but most of all, we must question ourselves. Because the greatest struggle a Christian faces is within himself. And that battle is continuous and ongoing. That is why being a Christian is hard.
“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”
― Stephen Colbert