Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why I am not a Christian

"When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"

- Jesus Christ, (Luke 18:8)

I am not a christian.

I thought I was. But, it dawned on me recently that I am not, and I don’t think I ever was. The label “christian” has evolved through many cycles since it was first voiced at Antioch. By a label, I do not know what to call myself. I do not subscribe to names and badges because man and religion, ultimately, make a mockery of any nomenclature, no matter how innocently crafted. This much I do know:

I believe in God, the Father, Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, my Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

In its truest form, the term “christian” is supposed to mean “a follower of Christ”. It sounds simple enough, but how come then, that there is very little of Christ in christianity today? How is it that the image of the Christos is not etched on the face of the “modern faith”. Why, indeed, do people go to church to look for Christ but instead find the priest?

I am not one to criticize the church – that is not my quest. These questions are directed as much to me as they are to anyone who has also bent their knees at Calvary and cleansed themselves in the blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins. I am only perturbed by the realisation that the more and more I read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the less and less I see the nature of Jesus in the “modern church.”

Should someone go out there at high noon with a torch in their hand, walk the streets and point the torchlight in every direction, looking for Christ in men? Why has it come to this, that someone would require a torch in broad daylight to search for a follower of Christ? Are they that scarce now?

The torchlight would reveal a throng of people milling into buildings of worship, all clutching their bibles to their chest. Some of them have all kinds of religious paraphernalia pinned to their coat lapels and dresses. With the torch, you will see that they are christians, . . . but will you see Christ? – will you see the ChristosThe Anointed One?

And no, they are not the same – being a Christian and being Christlike are not the same thing at all – not in this age – not in the “modern church”. Being a christian is a label, a badge, more like a political party actually, . . . while being Christlike, is LIFE!

Was this what Jesus alluded to when He asked that thought-provoking question in the gospel:

“When the Son of Man returns, shall He find faith on earth?”

If being a christian means forming “clicks of spiritual brethren” in church who look down their noses at their fellow christians, because “those ones” are not spiritual enough, then, I am not a christian.

If a young lady, who in a moment of weakness, had premarital sex with a man and she is guilt-smitten and truly repents but still needing reassurance of God’s forgiveness, unburdens her heart to her pastor, . . . if being a christian means that the pastor then decides to “crucify her flesh so that her soul will be saved” by announcing her misdeed in church and making her sit through every service at the back of the church congregation in shame for 6 weeks, then, I am not a christian.

Why does the church shoot its wounded? Why do we beat a man or woman who is already down? God has forgiven the young lady but the christians will not.

When a minister of God engages in an adulterous affair and realizes his mistake and appeals to the Heavenly Assizes for mercy, if being a christian means that he is denied by his fellow ministers and the “church board” – each one trying to outdo the other at how quickly they can distance themselves from “a fallen man of God” instead of putting their arms around him and restoring his shaken faith, then, I am not a christian.

When a pastor is stripped of his position and sent packing at short order from the house the church rented for him, when he is for all practical purposes excommunicated from the church all because he “slipped and fell” even when the Court of Heaven has pardoned him – if this is what it means to be christian, then, I refuse to be called a christian.

Yes, he sinned. Yes, he slipped, and he fell. But, he has appealed to the Courts on High, and the Christos has thundered back a response:

“Your sins are forgiven you. Go and sin no more!”

The Ancient of Days has forgiven him, but the christians will not.

It is fashionable these days for christians and christian organizations to immediately deny any association with a minister who sins – we see it quite commonly. No sooner is a pastor caught in adultery, than you hear the “church board” and its affiliates downplaying his role or involvement in their organization. These christians do not require a Cock crowing, to time their denials anymore – they are experts at it now:

“I do not know the man!”

“I do not know the man!”

“I do not know the man!”

“I do not know the man!”

. . . . . and on and on it goes . . . . .

That will become their new chorus.

They forget in their narcissism and greed, the wisdom in the saying:

“There go I, but for the grace of God”

The pastor is on his own at the time of his greatest need – his fellow pastors look at him askance, cancelling all previous engagements with him – to them, he has become “a dirty man of God” and he is still regarded as such even when he has settled his accounts with Heaven.

“Let him find God’s love and forgiveness if he will, but we will never give him ours” is the christians’ attitude towards their former shepherd.

I am not a christian.

How can I be a christian, when to be one means that members of one denomination must see the members of another denomination as inferiors, rivals, or outright enemies?

I can not be a christian when the authority of the pulpit is used to bully and intimidate the congregation with supposedly “hot messages” instead of encouraging them and rebuking them IN LOVE if need be.

If being a christian means reasoning is snubbed and the intellect derided, whether overtly or covertly in a church because you are not permitted to think – because afterall, it is the pastor’s job to think and tell the congregation what to think, then I am not a christian.

If an unsaved lady who feels that her life is empty, decides to attend church because she is trying to seek and understand the Truth, but comes to every church service in her trousers, but she is constantly told by the “spiritual congregation” to “stop wearing trousers or to stop coming to that church!”. If this is what it means to be a christian, then I am definitely not one.

If christians can not accept the broken and the fallen, who else will?

If christians can not extend forgiveness to a pastor who “messes up”, even before he asks for it, then, who else will?

If christians cannot embrace the fallen man, or the fallen woman (who by the way, is already repentant), then how dare we defame the name of Christ by calling ourselves His followers.

It is an admirable age we live in – an age when we can reinvent anything – we have even succeeded in reinventing a christianity without the Christ!

What a piece of work christians are! – what a veritable bundle of unbridled egotism!

Alas, I tell you, the angels wonder – they wonder at christians, they wonder at the arrogance in an imperfect man, who mercilessly condemns another imperfect man.

I am not a christian.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Bandwagon Effect

It is so much easier to go with the crowd. People as a rule, are apt to allow another do their thinking for them. It never ceases to amaze me how a single idea, if let out at an opportune moment, and parroted ad nauseum, can snowball into something quite large - And when given sufficient time, it makes no difference that this idea is completely destitute of logic and has no basis for its continued pursuance.

It is the bandwagon effect!

For years now, I have watched with fascination, almost amusement, at the popular view concerning “love and respect (submission)” between a man and a woman in marriage. Again, people have taken the message of Paul in Ephesians 5: 22-33 and driven it in a direction that it was not originally intended.

In relationship seminars and books, you must have heard it said so many times that :

"Men want respect, and that men value respect more than love."

(as if respect does not matter as much to women)

Infact some have gone as far as to say that:

"If you ask a man to choose between love and respect, he would choose respect."

Now, notice, that this is all supposedly based on the premise that Paul told women to “submit” to their husbands.

Some have even gone as far as to say that:

"Paul told women to “respect” their husbands and did not tell them to “love” him because “love” comes naturally to a woman."

Does anyone sincerely believe that love comes naturally to any human at all simply because of their gender? Do you not know of any woman or at least, have you not heard of women who do not love their spouses?

Now, if the above was true, how would they explain Titus 2:4, where

“Young women are admonished to love their husbands”.

O! I see! maybe love comes naturally only to “old women” and not to “young women”

(I am sure someone has tried to use this as an excuse by now)

On the other hand, in the same Ephesians 5: 22-33, men are admonished to love their wives.

An immediately obvious question would be:

Does that mean that men should not “respect” their wives because they were not specifically told to do so?


Does “respect” come naturally to men, and is that why they were not specifically instructed to “respect” their wives?

I have always steered clear of this topic but I have no option now but to weigh in because I hear this same message about “respect” and “love” being preached so frequently at weddings.

Personally, I think there is no scriptural basis for the formula that they are trying to concoct.

When Paul talked about “respect” and “love” in marriage, he was not trying to create two new equations that read:

Husband = to love .............. equation I
Wife = to submit ................. equation II

Here is a Newsflash:

I believe that the man is also expected to "submit" to his wife and the wife should also "love" her husband. Why? Simple.

If I truly love my wife, I will "submit" to her and my wife will only truly submit to me if she "loves" me.

In Titus 2: 6-8, Paul told the young men to be sober minded . . . etc

Should I then deduce from this passage alone, that Paul knew that it is natural for young men to LOVE THEIR WIVES, and that is the reason he did not specifically instruct them to?

My whole point in this issue and in all other issue concerning scriptures is that you CANNOT TAKE A SINGLE PASSAGE AND RUN AWAY WITH IT and the fact that something was not EXPLICITLY mentioned does not mean that the instruction was not IMPLICIT.

I do not understand why women are constantly told that "men have fragile egos” and this “fragile ego” demands to be propped up by the wife’s constant respect or submission. Why are men never told to stop sulking, grow up, and be less egotistical? What everyone is happily calling and glorifying as "male ego" is just another fanciful expression for "male selfishness".

Male selfishness is the last vestige of an instinct which was acquired through the course of history that women were created for the amusement of men.

But, from the beginning, it was not so!

This is not some feminist rant. I am a man but first and foremost, I am a human being and I owe it to my fellow humans – women, to speak on their behalf.

I see a trend especially in Christendom: we have drawn up this long list of so-called “differences” between men and women, among these are:

"The woman uses her left brain while the man uses his right brain"
"The woman is emotional while the man is logical"
"Men get their validation from their jobs while women get theirs from the home"
"Women should “submit” to their husbands while men should “love” their wives" (people have taken this passage by the apostle Paul and stretched it to distortion, as if "submit" and "love" are two entirely different modes of behaviour.)

How on earth can you put the sexes into such rigid boxes? I have met many women who are more rational than men and who also get a sense of validation from their jobs.

Does this make these women any less women?

I have met men who are more emotional than women and who get a higher sense of fulfillment from their home than their jobs.

Does this make these men any less men?

People are people and you can find the combination of all the items listed above in both sexes. No particular item on the list defines a particular sex. What these rigid roles do is give people unrealistic expectations of themselves. A man feels he has to live up to his “manliness” by being all of the prescribed items on the list and the woman her "femaleness" by doing the same.

Obviously men and women are different and I for one know that very well (My training is in the sciences and I can give you a long list of physiological and biochemical differences between the sexes) but these so -called “differences” are not as "unique" as these “relationship experts” are advertising.

Has anyone noticed that God Himself does not have a different plan of salvation for women and a different plan for men? If the differences between the sexes are so “destiny-defining” obviously God would have taken that into account.

Here is another newsflash:

“Submission” and “Love” in marriage, are aspects of the same thing. A man who truly loves his wife will invariably “submit” to her. He was told to love his wife as Christ loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF UP for it.

In other words, Christ’s love for the church led Him to the ultimate form of submission:

Death on the cross!

And no, Christ did not die for the Church (his wife) because the Church (his wife) first submitted to Him. We are told that it was “while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us”

Now, that is TRUE LOVE! That is UNSELFISH LOVE!

If a man TRULY (I always use the adjective TRULY because TRUE LOVE embodies every noble virtue possible, including respect/submission) loves his wife, he would also SUBMIT to her.

So, eventually, what you have is, the husband “loving and submitting to his wife” and the wife also “loving and submitting to her husband”.

Love and submission in marriage are aspects of the same thing.

If a husband and wife have TRUE love for each other the issue of "submission" will not come up because the bond between them would be so seamless, that you cannot tell at any point who is "submitting" to whom. They are both constantly giving to each other.

If a man has a plan in mind but his wife has a better alternative and he still insists on doing it his way, then he is in the wrong for not "submitting" to his wife. He can do what he likes obviously, but that does not make him any less guilty for not "submitting" to a better idea from his wife either because of his "ego" or because he actually believes he is right.

The truth is that, if there is TRUE love between a couple, the man should never feel insecure about "NOT BEING A REAL MAN" if he submits to his wife, because they are supposed to be ONE! 

It is the inherent insecurities in marriage relationships that feeds this love/submit debate.

Ideally, and in REALITY it should not be so.

In a marriage, TRUE love is the overarching principle - and if a man and a woman TRULY love each other, SUBMISSION TO EACH OTHER would be the most natural thing in the world.

I can’t believe that a married man can actually say that if he has to choose between “respect” and “love” from his wife that he would choose “respect.”

How can a man get true “respect” from his wife without having her “love?” The kind of respect I am talking about here is not born out of fear or intimidation

It is like telling someone to choose between “God the Father” and “God the Son”. You can not choose one without invariably choosing the other.

When love is true, a husband and a wife should be able to say these words to each other:

Your hands are in the hollows of mine,
my heart with yours is full;
Love’s command is upon my eyes
to see myself in you

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Things

Awake, O north wind,
And come, O south!
Blow upon my garden,
That its spices may flow out.
Let my beloved come to his garden
And eat its pleasant fruits.

The Shulamite, Songs of Solomon 4:16

The bard of Stratford-upon-Avon, that true but uncrowned king of the blessed isle we call England, William Shakespeare, once described love as a discrete form of madness.

Ah me! . . . he was right!

Love is indeed a fine thing. The love between a man and a woman is without doubt a beautiful thing. There is no human experience I know of, that ranks above that moment when Cupid’s arrow first strikes your heart. The world around you becomes a pleasant blur and the heart within you throbs! . . . and throbs!! . . . and throbs!!! . . . glowing with all the passion of a hundred suns.

But is it possible you ask?

Is it possible for the love between a man and a woman to thrill our imagination with such fever-pitch intensity?

Yes, yes, . . . O yes, it is possible!

It is possible to have a love that is so untameable, unassailable – love that is like a storm in the heart and nothing can be done about it either in time or in eternity. Yes, such a love as the human heart craves for – a longing, so deep and a hunger that is twice as wide.

For a man to look into the eyes of the woman he loves and be lost in their wonder; to have those ten dainty trimmings that he calls her fingers, tickling his sides to make his heart merry with laughter; to roam the grassy fields, the countryside ringing with their laughter – intoxicated with this wine that flows from their hearts.

To have the moon bathe their marriage nest in an unbroken stream of silvery light; to taste honey between each kiss – their breath, the smell of scented flowers. To place her seal upon his life and do the bidding of love, which commands him to see himself in her – that is, my friend, a thing of beauty.

Such a love is as much a wound of Cupid’s arrow as it is the combined will of the lovers to keep it so. It must be tended to like a garden of flowers – weeds must be kept out. One man can love one woman and, one woman can love one man and they can both be the better for it – like music and poetry - in eternal union.

Love is a winged creature, a native of the skies. It is an offspring of the wind-borne clouds, an ever-soaring companion of the stars. Love is a minstrel, love is a goddess, - love is a scion of the divine.

It is the light in the eyes of a strolling couple, even the sun in its brilliance does not compare. Love stirs the heart in unending bubbles – it is life’s elixir, it is a spirit, so fair. It is the soul of laughter, the messenger of joy; it is the Artist of all nature’s display.

Love is the coolness of morning, it is the fire in your bosom – it is the volcano that erupts within your frame. Love exalts your sight, it makes your vision boundless – love is a deity that grants you a noble name. It is heaven’s melody, it is as vast as the eternals, love is a mystery that no man can search.

It is a divine angel, the beat of all hearts.

Love is more than a thousand splendid things!