“I don’t care about the church’s reputation!” What a freeing place to be. I must admit that this is not entirely true. I do care that so much hatred, selfishness, and foolishness has been done by the Christian church, but I don’t care enough to try and hide it, excuse it, or minimize it.
I was just on a discussion board where atheists and Christians were debating over the damage that Christians have done in the world, it started with a question about slavery. I watched as some Christians attempted to justify these actions in theological terms and I watched how these weak arguments fell on deaf ears. What I thought was fascinating was that it sounded like the Christians were trying to defeat the atheists in a war of words, but most surprising was that is felt like their own reputation was at stake. Then it hit me that this is often where we find ourselves when reputation becomes so important.
Often it seems that people begin to defend Christianity as if they were defending God and more to the point, think that God really needs our help. The same types of arguments were used by the Roman Catholic Church when they hid pedophiles- they were concerned over the church’s reputation as a whole and concerned about the impact it would have on believers and nonbelievers alike.
I say pull back the curtain and let God handle the fall out. He has been using imperfect people and stories for thousands of years. The bible is not a pretty picture of God followers and there does not appear to have been much attempt to sanitize it.
I came across this a few weeks ago, it was a little staggering for me as I took it in:
17th Century Tombstone
Sacred to the Memory
Lynn S. Love
Who, during his life time, killed 98 Indians that had been
Delivered into his hands by the Lord. He had hoped to
Make it 100 before the year ended when he fell asleep in
The arms of Jesus in his home,
In N.Y. State
This is part of our collective story as Christians. We as a whole have often failed to care for those we were called to care for. EVERY generation of Christians has succumbed to the culture of the day and acted out of something other than love, so it would be arrogant to think that we are not doing the same. Just as when an individual denies part of his or her story, when we as a church or country deny part of ours, we are doomed to repeat it.
Yes, I fear what people will think when they read this tombstone. I worry about those who are on the edge of believing in Jesus, but if I can’t trust that God can take care of his sheep without hiding the truth what do I really believe in.
We can’t be reputation monitors anymore. When something is wrong in the church shout it on the mountaintops. If the emperor is naked, let him know- save the reputation management for the politicians.
“Eagles are independent thinkers. The church today is in desperate need of eagles…Ask the hard questions, take risks, search for the truth, and soar above mediocrity.” Chuck R. Swindoll