Wednesday, November 09, 2005

All Christians are jerks

Hey look mate, you know I'm right, so pull your head in.

Every last one of us is a jerk*. Why do you think Jesus had to die for us? If we'd all been perfect and nice he wouldn't have had to do a thing.

And if you don't believe me, believe the Bible:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:8 (ESV)

So if you sin, you're bound to hurt people. And if you hurt people, especially in a big way, and if you keep on doing it you're a jerk, at least in my book.

Which is why it shouldn't surprise me when Christians let me down. It still does, because—naturally enough I suppose—I expect more of them. Christians shouldn't be jerks because God tells them (frequently) not to. Even someone who isn't that familiar with the Bible will know how Christians should behave and point it out to them.

For example, I was saying this week that if you want to shoot novelists in the neck you should do the job properly and that Fascists were pretty useless. My boss said “This from a person who espouses ‘You shall not kill’”. I don't think I'd ever espoused anything to my boss, let alone “You shall not kill” nevertheless she knows I'm a Christian and knows enough about Christians to know that we say “You shall not kill”. (I actually pointed out that what we really say is “You shall not murder” which is a different thing, but the point is that she knows a thing or two about Christians).

Note for fruitcakes:

  1. George Orwell is one of my favourite writers (and Ern Malley)
  2. I was joking

Anyway, seeing as how I've been a Christian for most of my 30-something years, I know a thing or two about how Christians are supposed to act. They're supposed to act according to what they believe. For me and most of the people I know, that means “like the Bible says”.

A few years ago I worked for a Christian organisation that produced a whole bunch of literature featuring famous Christians saying what a good thing Christianity was. They should have known better. One of the celebrities was then South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and when it was revealed that Hansie had been involved in match fixing they had to pulp the lot.

That didn't upset me that much, because I didn't know the guy. When someone I know does something outrageously against what the Bible says, I feel pretty gutted.

I feel angry because the people involved are being hypocrites and not doing what they should, which hurts me personally, and also hurts the reputation of Christians generally and worse still it hurts God's reputation.

I've been let down in a big way [only!] twicein the last few months and sadly I'm kind of getting used to it. This is a good and bad thing. Bad because I have to get used to it, good because I'm getting things more into perspective.

Christians will always let you down. They will hurt you, they'll be hypocritical and they just won't do the right thing. Just ask my wife. I let her down frequently and, despite at least some effort on my part, I keep hurting her. I'm sure my children will say the same thing (or at least they will when they've grown old enough to articulate it). I should act differently. I should act the way the Bible says and love her like Jesus loved his people, Ephesians 5-style, but I don't. I'm a long way short. I'm a jerk and I'll admit it here.

The only one who never lets me down is God. He always acts the way he says he will. He is always faithful, and loving and true. If you've been hurt by Christians, whether you're a Christian or not, you might have trouble believing that. Christians represent our God in the world (2 Corinthians 5:20) so when we hurt people it feels like God is hurting them. I'm sure there's plenty of people who've given up on God because of what his people have done and you might be one of them. I can only say, on behalf of all of us: sorry.

But that's no excuse for giving up on God. He killed his son for you to fix up the broken relationship between you and him, so don't let some jerk get in the way.

So I've given up on expecting Christians to always do the right thing. I can only expect that of God. But I'm going to try to not be such a jerk.

*I was going to say another word instead of jerk, but since this is a family blog which my mother may read I used ‘jerk’. You've got an imagination, use it. … There you go, that's much more offensive.