Defending Christians Is Hard to Do (Sometimes)

This week has been a rough one for those of us on the religious left. It’s not often that you have to defend your faith before a vast multitude of people who assume you believe something that you don’t—oh wait, nope that’s every day. This week just seemed to be worse. And it’s got me thinking about something that I’ve been toying with for a while now—and it’s not something I’m completely happy about: leaving the Church.

I won’t get into the whole Chick-fil-a versus Gay Rights battle, but I wish that the fervor that was shown to defend Chick-fil-a could be shown to fight homelessness, or world hunger, you know, things that Jesus actually spoke about. But no, many Christians (and I’m sure non-believers as well) took to their neighborhood fast food chicken shack in protest of the “gay agenda” or whatever that means. But still, this isn’t the reason that I’m thinking of leaving, though it’s not helping.

I’m thinking of leaving because this morning I received an invite on Facebook from a friend and youth pastor at the church I used to attend (and frequently defended to atheist and unreligious friends). The name: Harvest America. Sounds good, something to do with harvesting, must be about food. Maybe it helps out the local food bank? There are tons of starving people in Brevard County—we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Awesome, count me in. Then I read the next few lines:

This is the simulcast with one purpose, one message, the simple proclamation of the gospel. CCM is partnering with churches throughout the nation and 32 countries to create settings where community churches can join together and invite their friends and relatives to comfortably come and hear a clear and precise presentation of the gospel, respond to its message, and be given direction and materials to assist in their new faith.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand the need to proclaim the gospel—it was a commandment given directly by Jesus—but when do we finally accept that we’ve focused on one mission and forgotten the others? When do we start to care a little bit less about where people will go when they die and care a little bit more about helping them stay alive? When did Christianity become the monolith that is pure evangelism, and stop being about caring for the poor, the hungry, the “least of these”?

I’m torn. I know that I love God and I follow Jesus, but at a certain point I have to say no more. When Christians care more about who someone can love and less about whether a child goes to bed hungry, I cannot call myself a Christian any longer. When Christians care more about fighting contraception than helping to provide babies with adequate prenatal and healthcare once born, then no I can’t call myself a Christian. When Christians care more about the immortal soul of a person than the body that it inhabits, then no I cannot call myself a Christian. Modern Christianity—or at least that which is portrayed in the media—has lost sight of the true mission of Christ: service. You are not of service to the King by eating at a fast food restaurant that will likely kill you one day; you are of service when you stock a food pantry to help feed those who likely could never afford that restaurant in the first place, when you’re sorting clothes at a homeless shelter, or by building a Habitat house for a needy family to move into. Don’t get your priorities twisted, Jesus had one priority: to save. What are you doing with that salvation?

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