At the very points where Christians should be obvious lights of better living and treatment to others, they are often demonstrating the opposite. For example:
- In a recent Barna poll, 49% of Unchurched people could not identify a single positive contribution made by American Christians.
- Baylor University, a place that touts leadership and faith on billboards and promotional materials, sold its Christian soul to the idol of football, prestige, and wealth and neglected the welfare of its own students.
- Many Christians rallied around a political candidate who has demonstrated anger, flaunts his lusts and sexual appetites, lies repeatedly about himself and others, shown no signs of humility, and has made large sweeping judgements about entire groups of people. Many of these Christians tried to rationalize their support with some thin Biblical claims about God using bad and immoral leaders for his purposes. As if this was somehow a preferable scenario to a more noble and honorable person.
Where did we go wrong? We could just blame the timeless culprits of Money, Sex, and Power and move on for hopefully better days. But what if our current state of character deficiency is a result of neglect?
My browse through a Mall bookstore showed two whole columns of the Christian section on Heaven but nary a book on lying. The library where I am a librarian has twice as many books on the End Times than it does on anger. When have you ever heard a sermon on blessing those who curse you?
Yet, the most read sermon of all time talks extensively about anger, lust, lying, worry, giving to the needy, and judging others.
It is not like Christians don’t know these things. I have always been haunted by the words of a Harvard student who was continually mistreated and propositioned for sex by a classmate. She stated to Robert Coles, well-known researcher on social issues and ethics, “What is the point of knowing good if you don’t keep trying to become a good person?”
Are you, with the help of Christ, trying to become a good person?
Part of the hesitancy to speak up on these things involves our own fear that we will be found out and made to look like a hypocrite or torn down by the slightest personal failing. I am not above being fearful of perceptions of hypocrisy, even of the words I am writing now. But, I am also not above doing my part to push myself and others to Grow Up to represent a Christian life that seeks to obey Jesus’ words and be a light to the world.
Won’t you make 2017 the year that you work on becoming a good person. In the coming weeks, I will present some ideas that will help you work with Christ on this goal. The world needs our character, our values, our love, and our compassion. It is time to let Christ transform you and Grow Up.