GIVE US SOME CREDIT
Not all non-Christians are as shallow as Sam Harris or as self-serving in his bitterness as Richard Dawkins or as loftily silly as Steven Weinberg or Daniel Dennett in their criticism of Christians. Still, plenty of criticism comes our way and we ask for a fair amount of it, especially when it’s leveled against those among us that lead and we need forgiveness. But allowing for legitimate criticism, we still need to say that the vast majority of believers in Jesus Christ are decent, law-abiding, kind, compassionate, sensitive and sharing people. It’s true we can be led down dead-end streets with really rotten theology and some bizarre religious celebrities as ramrods, but when we’re not parroting the religious nonsense we’ve been caught up in, we’re hard-working and honest people who are conscientious in life, we’re good neighbors and we make good friends.
No union or government or political party critiques itself as consistently as we do. Week after week entire congregations of Christians hear a call to greater commitment to God and the world he loves, to greater generosity and a more fervent outreach to the people on the fringes of life. Sadly some churches are verbally raped week after week and how they endure it for years only God knows, but the good news is that that isn’t the approach of all church leaders. Nevertheless there’s still a steady call for more, even while there’s praise for progress experienced. Whole assemblies are called to pursue truth and goodness as it’s seen in Jesus and they bow their heads and hearts and pray for that together.
We bring our children to worship, right from the beginning, to have them shaped in the likeness of the clean-souled, people-loving and brave self-giving Jesus Christ. We pray not only for ourselves and for our own, we pray for yours and for the hurting of the world. When we can't go ourselves we financially help organizations and communities to shelter and feed the poor, to bring clean water, vitamins and medical supplies to the sick and dying and pillaged. We band together and get jobs for the jobless, build houses for the homeless and share clothing with the destitute.
We weep over the motherless and in our tens of thousands we engage every day in voluntary work in nursing homes, hospital laundries and kitchens and we watch over the children of anxious parents who must go out to work. Together in our millions we confer tangible gifts on countless people but because we're followers of and believers in Jesus Christ we put a great message of bravery and hope in people.
For the breadth of good works, for the influence we've had on non-Christians that has shaped them so that they too engage in good works, for the amount of our financial aid and hands-on help there’s nothing like us in the world.
So don’t ask us to be Jesus—we'll gladly tell you there’s only one Jesus and he’s light years beyond us. Don’t be overly generous in your praise of us—we’ll tell you we’re not that good—yet. But be fair in your criticism of us because with all our flaws we’re probably the best thing you ever seen and almost certainly better than any organization you’re not involved with.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.