I think it’s time to do one of those periodic religious gut checks. These are helpful for me as I follow the news (and discussions) in the wake of contentious issues like the government shutdown and immigration reform. It is helpful for me to take a deep breath, pray, and reflect on a few fundamental ideas. Given the nature of the political dialogue, religious diatribes, and theological soap boxing over the past few weeks, I want to tell you who I don’t want to be and what I don’t want to do.
- I don’t want to preach a Jesus who is simply a reflection of my prejudices and dislikes. If we’re echo chambers telling ourselves what we want to hear, why call ourselves churches?
- I don’t want to pray to a God who hates everything I hate and justifies my hate. I’m a Methodist not a member of ISIS.
- I don’t want to worship a God who can be reduced to catchy one liners, quotes from people I’ve never heard, of or clichés. I don’t want to follow a God who is reducible to memes. No one’s ever come to me and said, “Pastor, I want to join the church because I saw the cleverest meme on Facebook.” It’s never happened. It never will.
- I don’t want to confuse the Good News of the Bible the bad news of television. How do you avoid that trap? Read scripture responsibly.
- I don’t want to use my belief in Jesus Christ to hurt anyone’s relationship with God, their family, other Christians, or other people of faiths. When we weaponize Christianity everyone loses.
- I don’t want a God who is forced to comment on everything. Just because we feel the need to leave no issue unobserved, doesn’t mean that God is ready to speak. Silence is okay, it’s God’s original default setting. Be OK with being quiet.
Richard Lowell Bryant