The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity

To start, a story.

A few years ago a female student wanted to visit with me about some difficulties she was having, mainly with her family life. As is my practice, we walked around campus as we talked.

After talking for some time about her family situation we turned to other areas of her life. When she reached spiritual matters we had the following exchange:

"I need to spend more time working on my relationship with God."

I responded, "Why would you want to do that?"

Startled she says, "What do you mean?"

"Well, why would you want to spend any time at all on working on your relationship with God?"

"Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?"

"Let me answer by asking you a question. Can you think of anyone, right now, to whom you need to apologize? Anyone you've wronged?"

She thinks and answers, "Yes."

"Well, why don't you give them a call today and ask for their forgiveness. That might be a better use of your time than working on your relationship with God."
Obviously, I was being a bit provocative with the student. And I did go on to clarify. But I was trying to push back on a strain of Christianity I see in both my students and the larger Christian culture. Specifically, when the student said "I need to work on my relationship with God" I knew exactly what she meant. It meant praying more, getting up early to study the bible, to start going back to church. Things along those lines. The goal of these activities is to get "closer" to God. To "waste time with Jesus." Of course, please hear me on this point, nothing is wrong with those activities. Personal acts of piety and devotion are vital to a vibrant spiritual life and continued spiritual formation. But all too often "working on my relationship with God" has almost nothing to do with trying to become a more decent human being.

The trouble with contemporary Christianity is that a massive bait and switch is going on. "Christianity" has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed "spiritual" substitute. For example, rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:
Going to church
Worship
Praying
Spiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)
Bible study
Voting Republican
Going on spiritual retreats
Reading religious books
Arguing with evolutionists
Sending your child to a Christian school or providing education at home
Using religious language
Avoiding R-rated movies
Not reading Harry Potter.
The point is that one can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being. Much of this activity can actually distract one from becoming a more decent human being. In fact, some of these activities make you worse, interpersonally speaking. Many churches are jerk factories.

Take, for example, how Christians tip and behave in restaurants. If you have ever worked in the restaurant industry you know the reputation of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Millions of Christians go to lunch after church on Sundays and their behavior is abysmal. The single most damaging phenomenon to the witness of Christianity in America today is the collective behavior of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Never has a more well-dressed, entitled, dismissive, haughty or cheap collection of Christians been seen on the face of the earth.

I exaggerate of course. But I hope you see my point. Rather than pouring our efforts into two hours of worship, bible study and Christian fellowship on Sunday why don't we just take a moment and a few extra bucks to act like a decent human being when we go to lunch afterwards? Just think about it. What if the entire restaurant industry actually began to look forward to working Sunday lunch? If they said amongst themselves, "I love the church crowd. They are kind, patient and very generous. It's my favorite part of the week waiting on Christians." How might such a change affect the way the world sees us? Think about it. Just being a decent human being for one hour each Sunday and the world sees us in a whole new way.

But it's not going to happen. Because behavior at lunch isn't considered to be "working on your relationship with God." Behavior at lunch isn't spiritual. Going to church, well, that is working on your relationship with God. But, as we all know, any jerk can sit in a pew. But you can't be a jerk if you take the time to treat your waitress as if she were your friend, daughter or mother.

My point in all this is that contemporary Christianity has lost its way. Christians don't wake up every morning thinking about how to become a more decent human being. Instead, they wake up trying to "work on their relationship with God" which very often has nothing to do with treating people better. How could such a confusion have occurred? How did we end up going so wrong? I'm sure there are lots of answers, but at the end of the day we need to face up to our collective failure. I'm not saying we need to do anything dramatic. A baby step would do to start. Waking up trying to be a little more kind, more generous, more interruptible, more forgiving, more humble, more civil, more tolerant. Do these things and prayer and worship will come alongside to support us.

I truly want people to spend time working on their relationship with God. I just want them to do it by taking the time to care about the person standing right in front of them.

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639 thoughts on “The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity”

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  1. This is evidently a person who has neer worked waiting tables amd making just over $2.00/hour to bust your hump. TRUE Christians would treat the waitstaff with respect, love and kindness, as +Christ himself would have. The first step in developing a better relationship with +GOD is to develop a better and more respectful relationship with our fellow man. Many contemporary Christians forget one of +Christ's tenets;  "As you have done to the least of your Brothers, you have done to me".

  2. You have effectively let other imperfect people have power over you; enough to separate you from the truth. I understand exactly where you're coming from. I challenge you to come back to the faith and demonstrate to them how it should be done. We need more examples of how to do it right, and I think you know how. 

  3. Brother Paul,
    I challenge you to read the article again. I think you missed the point. He even qualified his statement about "waste of time." This is about working on your relationship with God by practical application in everyday life.

  4. Thank you for a wonderful article. My summary: Col 3:17 "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord..."  "Name of the Lord" meaning that we live our lives in God's will; a WWJD mentality about everything we do and say -- tipping and complaining included.

  5. Oh wow. I have just discovered a voice of reason. Why I did not find you before now is truly strange. I am reminded of my waitressing days at Shoney's in Nashville, TN. Long ago. I HATED the Sunday after church crowd, and we all tried trading off that shift.  Talk about truth telling Mr. Beck, you are certainly telling it.  The lack of kindness and judgement that those rude Christians perpetuated just floored me. It has amused me to this day, and suddenly I find your blog post. I could not agree more, with absolutely everything you said. Nicely written.

  6. Mac, perhaps you should add a little knowledge to your comments. The Bible never says "Study (the Bible) to show yourselves approved." The olde english word "study" meant "earnestly endevour" .. as in "put effort into".... So, rather than saying "Study the Bible to show yourself approved"... it's says "Put some effort into showing yourself approved.." Hmm. How can we do that? Wow. Maybe we can do that by actually doing what Jesus said, instead of just reading about it. Wow. What a concept.

  7. Cited from an earlier comment: "Where would one get the power to truly love others and be a better
    person if not from the author and offerer of truly selfless love."

    Where indeed. This statement and others like it are at the heart of the controversy: are humans capable of loving others in and of themselves, without spiritual intervention being necessary. Glorification of God through the denigration of humanity is a dicey game, and I've always been suspicious of those trying to tell me that my efforts to be a better person will always come to naught except through a spiritual relationship. All of this from people who spend more time trying to get others to do what they insist is right, rather than learning to be better people themselves. No wonder they never grow as people, they're too focused on everyone else. Using their belief in the fall of man to relieve man of his responsibility to be good and decent to others, EXCEPT for the prescribed way is to spread mass disaffection: it provides a way out, but it lowers one's estimation of one's abilities. There lies the true crime.

  8. I've always said that if Jesus came back today He would look at Christians and then loudly proclaim, "I am not Christian!"

  9. "Christians should be better human beings. But being a better human
    being is not the goal of the Christian faith. It is a by-product."

    And with this phrase, you have shown yourself to be a disgrace as a Christian, a disgrace as a man, and as a disgrace as a human being.

  10. This is probably one of the best articles on faith I've read in a long time.

    I grew up in a good Southern Baptist home across the street from the church we attended. I went to Sunday school, choir practice, prayer meetings, etc. I grew up in that church. I have always considered myself a Christian, but lately I'm a little ashamed to admit it. The problem is, I don't want to be associated with today's "Christianity"- the one that has been hijacked by the Religious Right for political gain. It's like if you don't agree with their radical agenda they want nothing to do with you. and you're not really a Christian.

    I read another article by you on Toxic Religion. You hit the nail on the head on that one, but I would suggest your conclusion that it's getting better is wrong. I think it's getting much worse. The toxic nature of the Religious Right in this country is mind blowing. The hatred they spew in the name of Christianity is unbelievable.  Growing up I was taught tolerance, charity, empathy, and to love thy neighbor...not this hateful, intolerant stuff the Religious Right is spewing today. My grandmother would be rolling over in her grave if she knew what these people had done to her religion.

    Toxic is the perfect word for it. I have said many times if God is this hateful, bigoted, intolerant God they speak of, I don't want anything to do with Him. I would suggest they have done a lot to turn people away from God, not nearer to Him, and personally I don't think they care one bit. My question is, why are good Christians allowing this to happen? Why are they allowing these people to be the voice of Christianity?

  11. ok- you are right in front of me right now.  I don't understand why you divorce spending time with God to being a more God-like person.   One is a result of the other.  Chesterton said that goodness without God is "virtue walking around in the world like an orphan".  Goodness without a relationship with God is not goodness- it is twisted attempt at goodness which equals evil.  Humanism is the result of the philosophy you outline here.

  12. You know- you could at least try to educate yourself before you post. The first amendment says nothing about separation of church and state.  None of the founding fathers recommended it.  Jefferson coined the phrase in a letter long after the ratification of the constitution arguing the opposite point- that a wall of separation exists to keep the government from infringing on the right of people to freely express their religion.  You know nothing about early American History obviously.  Just leave your keys cold next time.

  13. He is weeping at the way you have been deceived by your hate.  Children are not unwanted- millions of couples want babies who are unwanted.  Can you not see that the whole abortion rights train is an attempt at genocide- a not so subtle attempt at destroying poor minority populations- because the espousers of said policy do not see them as people or as valuable.  You are playing right into the hate by the views you re-vomit.

  14. I think this article can be summed up in James 1:22 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."  In other words, if you are "working on your relationship with God" you SHOULD be reading the Bible, going to church and praying....BUT AFTER THAT you should then be using those lessons in  your daily life. 

    Ephesians is all about loving people....everyone...those you love and those you hate.  So after reading and studying and praying about Ephesians, you should then be working on loving people. When we are told to love our enemies...we should do that. 

    I agree - if we thought of "working on our relationship with God" as following to the T what the Bible teaches us, then our relationship with God would grow and with it our relationship with the world.  How beautiful it would be for people to actually be won over by our actions instead of our words....wait - that is a verse too (1 Peter 3:1 talking about wives but may be applied to everyone).

    Finally: Luke 6:46 "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?"  If we are doing what He tells us, then our relationship with Him will be fine...and our relationships with spouses, relatives, friends, acquaintances, enemies and passerbys will be great as well.  How beautiful it would be if people came to know the Lord because of our actions!

  15. What I find wonderful about this article is how it articulates the difference between 'working' at your relationship with God and being in relationship with God.  I think that too often we are too busy trying to impress God with how busy we are working, that we are not noticing the presence of God especially in the places and people where our 'working' on this relationship doesn't prepare us to see God.

  16. This can be said of all religions but the author singles out Christianity. Biased?

  17. Sit in stunned, silent adulation, if you must, but know this fact-certain:  Jesus of Nazareth was not a "Christian", a dogma fueled by 'Pauline Doctrine', seeking to control the minds of men in an overt & covert effort to form the very foundation of what would ultimately become the 'dogma' of the "Christian Church" we know today.  Instead, Jesus was an itinerant  Jewish Rabbi, who walked about His land espousing such "radical" concepts as "...love your neighbor as you love yourself", "...do unto others as you  would have it done unto you", the "Sermon on The Mount", and the wonderful, gut-wrenching, (if not heroic), story of "The Good Samaritan".  Further taught The Master Teacher, The Light Of The World: "Have I not told you, ye are God's; children of The Most High and heirs to His kingdom; and all that He has is yours...why dost thou now call me good, for there is none good but God...it is the Father withing me who  doeth the  works you see me do...and you shall do even better"!  Then, of course, there is my all-time favorite Jesus quote, to wit:  "With only the faith of a mustard-seed, (the smallest tree-seed in nature), you will command that mountain to fall, and fall into the sea, it shall...and whatsoever you ask of your Heavenly Father in my name...first believing that it is yours already...shall be given unto you".  Sorry to appear to  be 'cynical', for I am anything but...however, in your lifetime on this earth, you will meet fewer true "Christians" than you can imagine, sad to say.  Finally, Jesus of Nazareth also addressed this unfortunate, pathetic situation when He said:  "You will
    stand in the final  judgement before God proclaiming your good works...giving alms to the poor, healing the sick, and more...yet I will say, I don't know  you...I NEVER knew you!!!!  Such  is the dilemma facing all would-be Christians, who CLAIM to be Christians, but who fail to BE and live the Christian life, having never truly been "born-again".  Thus, in a truly "spiritual sense"such wayward-souls have tried most of there hapless lives to make-spiritual-love-without-touching...they were determined to not get any "spiritualism"  on them.

  18. I read most of this article.  I feel the writer is disconnected with the real element of "working on a relationship with God" vs. being a decent human.  I see forgiving someone (professors question) as working on one's relationship with God - while becoming more decent.  The article made it seem that forgiving someone, is outside one's relationship with God.  In reality, it helps one's relationship with God.  To have a healthy vertical relationship, we need to have healthy horizontal relationships - and vice versa.

  19. This recent movement to demonize Christianity based on negative stereotypes is reprehensible. To destroy the reputation of Christianity by illuminating the religious hypocrites as proper representation for Christians is unfair and wrong! Minorities have fits of outrage when the same thing is done to them (as they should)! This is nothing but another attempt to destroy conservatism based on a disingenuous premise.  

  20. Whatever happened to obedience to Jesus's command in Matthew 7.5?  Or taking his Luke 18:9-14 teaching to heart? I think "outsiders" would be a little more understanding our our shortcomings if we, ourselves, were the first to admit them.

  21. Don't forget that its also the price for "looking slutty" when a woman is raped. They want us back in full body clothing like we are "supposed" to be, at a stove, cooking for our "man", taking care of HIS children.

    Yeah, that's a good life, being a mans unpaid housemaid/servant/baby machine/sex toy.

    I got one thing to say to those nitwits... Go to the Middle East/Africa! America doesn't want your outdated beliefs...

  22. "People in general do not know what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. Brought up in habits of superstition, they take it for granted that the Bible is true, and that it is good; they permit themselves not to doubt of it, and they carry the ideas they form of the benevolence of the Almighty to the book which they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens! it is quite another thing; it is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty?" Thomas Paine - The Age of Reason, Part 2, 1795

  23. There are so many references in the New Testament that are in agreement with what Richard has posted here.  The parable in Matthew 25 of the Sheep and the Goats comes to mind.  Also the comments in James that faith without works is dead.  Working on our relationships with our fellow human beings IS exactly what we should be doing in order to improve our relationship with God.  Outward demonstrations of "religiousness" only get us so far, like the Pharisees of Jesus' time.  What use is it for the outward appearance to be holy and inviting if the inward person is greedy, selfish and corrupted?

  24. From Wikipedia (copying and pasting from there because it's well-worded as well as true):

    "The No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, paragraph 3, and states that:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members
    of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial
    Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be
    bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

    I realize this is not Separation of Church and State, but it bears mentioning, since at one point we had three Republican candidates claiming that god told them to run for president (clearly, god was having a bit of fun at the expense of two of them). We seem to forget this part of the Constitution, and the intent that inspired it. Also from Wikipedia (again, I apologize for my laziness, but I'm 99% certain of its veracity): "The phrase "[A] hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world" was first used by Baptist theologian Roger Williams, the founder of the colony of Rhode Island, in his 1644 book The Bloody Tenet of Persecution. The phrase was later used by Thomas Jefferson as a description of the First Amendment and its restriction on the legislative branch of the federal government, in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists (a religious minority concerned about the dominant position of the Congregationalist church in Connecticut)."
    If I remember correctly, Roger Williams advocated the separation in order to protect the CHURCH, not to protect the government from the church. It's a bit ironic that these days it's the other way around.

  25. So, Leflex, would you say that Jesus' public criticism of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy was "demonizing" Judaism "based on negative stereotypes"?  Would you claim that when Paul and the other New Testament writers wrote passages "illuminating the religious hypocrites" who outwardly and publicly claimed Christian faith that they were destroying "the reputation of Christianity"?

    We ought not to conflate the outward practice of Christian religious ceremony with actual, heartfelt, born-again in spirit Christianity.  The two are not necessarily the same!  Nor does Christianity necessarily have anything in common with "conservatism".  The private actions of many self-proclaimed "conservatives" that have recently come to light ought to instruct us that anyone can espouse "conservatism" without having a single shred of true faith in Christ's teachings.

  26. Richard just didn't say it directly...  ;)  His point to the student was that working on our relationships with our fellow humans by practicing things like forgiveness IS working on our relationship with God much more so than practicing at being "religious".

  27. You make some good points but
    it's funny how you never asks what IS going on in that church service?
    What is the leadership doing in the western church today that makes a
    service no more than a card punching self-love fest? There's no faith in the
    church, no balls, no fear of God, no poverty, no sacrifice, no good teaching.
    It's about publishing deals, music, lights, bland sermons, friendship with the world and money
    money money. Let's this, and let's that. Pussified, hamstrung, castrated
    theology. Every good point is quickly taken back..."I don't mean you
    should....I'm not saying....surely Jesus didn't mean....I exaggerate of
    course..." Send revival Lord! Send today's Pratney, Ravenhill, Studd,
    Muller! Where's today's George Muller! It's time for the 3rd Great
    Awakening! Send Revival. Enough of these wussies with their fear of man,
    fear of rich white people, fear of the world, fear of the doctor, fear
    of scaring that rich guy out of church, fear of homosexuality, fear of
    not being "kewl" MacBook church. What would Jesus think of Starbucks in the foyer? What
    would Paul think of Harry Potter (Acts 19:19)? God send us another
    George Whitfield, Charles Finney, where are the Horseback Preachers of
    today? Booth, Wilberforce, Asbury, Wesley(!), people who lived what they said and didn't care about a dime!

  28. Great article. I think, too often, we focus on activities within our church walls to make us more holy, when it is living out a life of grace and mercy toward the stranger on the street that truly makes us more Christ-like. More of Him. Less of me. Right? The article also reminded me of a song from the great Terry Taylor.  http://youtu.be/BorR2xiUI7Q

  29. Hey aaron...great post/dissertation. I believe the answer to how Christianity went off the rails is simple, Pat Robinson$$$, Gerry Farwell$$$$, Jimmy Swagart$$$$ (and on and on) have turned the religion into a money making venture. They are glorified snake oil sales men with a PROUDLY ignorant congragation. I truly believe that if Jesus were to come back (the backbone of the faith) today and preach the same way he did over 2000 years ago, right wing "good christians" would tag him as a "socialist, liberal, america hating, tree hugging, humanistic, etc.etc. In other words, they would HATE HIS GUTS.This is coming from a confirmed atheist who believes that Jesus (the person) was one of the greatest persons to have ever walked the face of the earth. If you are a christian reading this post, i'm begging you to live your life according to the actual teaching of Jesus, and NOT the bastardised 700 club verison of your faith. Thanks. By the way, this is Jim...Jenniders husband.  

  30. i love this, but it's nothing new.  i went to a christian highschool in the 80s.  the teachers were the most hateful people i've known, but it was all ok because they were at church 24/7 and voted republican.

  31. If Christians were really walking the path of Jesus, they would do this: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions
    and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come,
    follow me." Mathew 19:21  Do you agree with the Christian conservatives who grip fist fulls of possessions/money and bitch about welfare?  What would Jesus do?  He would walk around without a lexus and deliver God's healing powers via his perfection.  Another thing, if you believe you are not perfect, and riddled with sin, it's your own fault, not God's... man was made in the image of God.  Is God not perfect?  Christianity is riddled with hypocrisy even in it's own text.  The only truth you will find is within.  You are perfect. If we start acting that way, we won't be so pretentious. What do you say?  Wanna be a perfect child of God with me?  I love you, even if you don't. 

  32. Really, the New England Puritans left Britain not to avoid persecution but to persecute. What they most wished to avoid about the state religion in England was the tolerance it held for other Christian denominations (with the long-standing exception for Catholicism). They vehemently opposed conflicting Christian interpretations to the point of expelling or executing members of other sects (e.g.: the Quakers out of Massachusetts, resulting in the formation of Rhode Island and the hangings of the group collectively known now as the "Boston martyrs") from the colonies they controlled. 
    While the phrase "separation of church and State" does not appear in the Constitution proper, it has, in fact, become part of law, as a result of the Supreme Court case Everson v. Board of Education. And whereas decisions of the Court are irreversible save by succeeding overturning case or contradictory Constitutional amendment, that phrase is likely to remain as concrete a legal force as any direct quote from the Constitution.

  33. Thank you, Emily. I am resolving right now--Dec 9, 2011--to start asking Jesus what tip HE would leave. This could be the start of a great adventure with Him!

  34. Good Morning! I saw this because Lynn Anderson linked from his Facebook yesterday...you certainly ignited some fiery thoughts. :)  Restaurant example is my favorite.

  35. also interesting, when at ACU the voters I encountered were Democrat...but I was mostly around the college, not the town

  36. I didn't want to "like" your comment b/c it is so sad. Very cruel and sad. Please find peace after a scary childhood experience like that.

  37. REALLY appreciate this post! Well said, and definitely an observation that I've made myself in recent years. It's been argued that 'getting things right with God' will set all the other parts of being human in place (the opposite of your point in your 2nd-to-last-paragraph). However, in my own personal walk, I've often felt like a huge failure at 'getting things right with God', and that feeling of self-reproach spills out into other parts of my life, and into my relationships with others, making me a less decent person overall. Not that the focus SHOULD be on good works and deeds. Waking up and trying to be a little more kind, a little more interruptible, a little more patient - these are things I can get my head around, things I can work toward through every step of my day, and things that will bear fruit in my life in big ways. There is as much a place for those things as there is for reading the Bible, worshipping and praying. 

    Thanks for these thoughts. I appreciate the sense of being 'freed' in some way, because I KNOW I'll never get my relationship completely perfect with God. I need to stop feeling guilty about that, and get on with loving those around me like Jesus would love them, at least by being a decent person to start off with.

  38. Do you know what a zygote is? It is the first cell of a future human being--and preventing it from implanting means that you are preventing it from its only source of food and oxygen.  I don't know how you can say it isn't killing anything to withhold food and oxygen from her/him.  (And by the time it should implant, it is more than just one cell.)

  39. Very much something I needed to hear and do. You answered a lot of questions I had on getting closer to God and realized just how wront I was approaching the appropriate way to do it.  Thank you...I look foreward to hearing more of your comments and feedbacks on subjects like the one above.

  40. I was a waitress on a restaurant strip!! all the restaurants hated the church mobs!!  - main complaint?? cheap - don't tip -  rude and demanding!!!

  41. Your equating Christianity with conservatism is telling. And a bit chilling. Which is really more important to you?

    Are you sure?

  42. Good post.

    You're "working" on your relationship with Him, when you obey Him. It's that simple. Doing what He tells you when He tells you (however that is) and following what He says in His word when you can't hear Him. And when we help other people including tipping properly and raking their yard, we're really doing it to Him, somehow (Matthew 25:34-40). Which means we're "working" on our relationship with Him in that too.

    Trust & obey.

  43. You DO know that Thomas Jefferson was NOT a Christian, right?

    PLEASE tell me, with all the reading you seem to have done, that you know that simple fact...

  44. By equating socialism and fascism so glibly you have disqualified anything else you can possibly think of saying.

    Rather, you did so 2 years ago. But the point stands. You can't have two more different systems of government than those.

    Unfortunately, careful thinking seems to have fled mainstream conservatism.

  45. Failing to tip a server who has provided you adequate service is a deliberate act of extreme unkindness and disrespect.

  46. The problem with the last part of your analysis, about "balancing everything out," is that not all waitstaff work balanced schedules for extended periods. On aggregate, yes, the "average" waiter will get the "average" tip day in and day out. But if Sunday lunch crowds really tip poorly, and the only shift you regularly get at the restaurant is Sunday...

  47. By nature, we as humans aren't going to care about the person standing in front of them.  Through knowing our God, we understand that it is His will for us to love and care for one another.  The fruits of the spirit are , love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness faithfulness, and self control.  Going to church won't achieve this.  Trying to "be a good person" won't fill you with the spirit and feed your soul.  Only knowing God, through his Word, will give that peace and joy that will lead one to desire and be joyful about being kind and generous.  We don't work on our relationship with God by caring about people; we care about people because our hearts are filled with love from knowing our God/having a relationship with our God.  You can't put the cart before the horse on this one.  

  48. Wow! This is such an interesting and convicting article. While I do spend a lot of time with the more tame things on that list (I do read Harry Potter and enjoy it thoroughly, and I don't even know what political party I ascribe to), my goal in my walk with the Lord has truly become loving others as God would love them - so deeply that they can't fathom the ends of it. Reaching out to people and letting them know that I love them and care about their story is my prime concern as a follower of the Lord, right after loving Him with my whole heart, body, mind, and soul. Thanks for the awesome reminder! Those who respond negatively to something like this probably need to do a bit of Spirit-led soul searching to see how they can take that first step in being a beacon of God's love while we're here on earth!

  49. As a Christian who tips well, but doesn't usually go to Sunday lunch at a restaurant, I must say that the characterization of Christians based on that activity isn't quite the whole truth.  There is a segment of the Christian population, and by that I mean those who attend church, for whom the performance and appearance of Christianity is paramount.  Hence the "Sunday go to meeting" clothes and lunch out at a restaurant.  They are there to see and be seen, seldom to worship or fellowship with others.  I wonder what they'd say of some of the "Cowboy Church" services I've attended, in jeans and boots, which were held in barns, at rodeos, or even on a hillside looking out over a peaceful valley.  It seems to me that your comments fit right in with the commandments of our Lord, which are (paraphrased) to "....love the Lord with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul" and "...love your neighbor as your self."  It seems to me that your comments would steer folks more towards the second commandment and the young lady's quest was more towards the first.  It's kind of difficult to do the second if you haven't got the first one down yet.

  50. Are you Michelle Bachman?  Did you just say that the separation of the Church and State is not in the Constitution?  It is one of the fundamental principles that the founding fathers based the Constitution on!!!!

  51. You can do nothing to make God love you any more than he already does. Must be a burden to carry around so much wisdom. True Christianity need not defend itself. Education with out the presence of God in it only creates "clever devils". The more God calls you to do will result in being of more service to people. I liked "some" of what you shared and I understand the point you are trying to make, but when you say "Christians don't wake up every morning..........decent human being" assumes that every single one of them are the same?  It would be as if I wrote an article about everyone named Richard and declared all Richards have lost their way!  You're welcome! Oh, and when I woke this morning, my first thought was, Lord who can I help today? Was it you? Have a great day!!

  52. The whole point is that publicly funded schools is a political issue and should not be influenced by religion just as abortion should not be a political issue.  The fundamental freedoms under which this country was founded are being corrupted by the crossover that religion has into our political system.  It's not about hate but about freedom.  The brightest most intelligent "free" thinkers in this country cannot run for office and serve the people because they either do not beleive in a higher power or beleive that "religion" is the root of all evil across the world and not the solution!!!

  53. Leflex, I can understand how a negative image of a group with which you are involved can be personally offensive to you. Unfortunately, in my experience, the negative image isn't one that has been created as an attack on Christianity. Some of the worst things I've seen happen in my life were done by Christians. Just look at the local mega-church. Having a two million dollar worship center packed with Starbucks and ATMs (yes, I have attended churches with ATMs inside) is about the farthest thing from finding the truth as you can get. The hypocrisy in the Christian community is what has created the negative image, and yes, I was one of those who couldn't attend church because I had to work in a restaurant to afford my rent. The two main problems I have with your statement are 1.) There are serious flaws with modern Christianity, but instead of recognizing and addressing those flaws, too many people are crying victim. 2.) This has nothing to do with an attack on conservatism. Are there any groups you have personally discriminated against? How about homosexuals, blacks, Muslims, poor people, or anyone who doesn't have the exact same belief as you? 

  54. The first step in developing a better relationship with God is to know him.  Reading and studying his word will fill you with the Holy Spirit and therefore give you conviction for your wrongdoings -- that will make you more respectful of your fellow man.  I was a waitress, and I have come a long way in my walk with Christ.  Being kind to His other children is important to me, because I want to please my Father and share his joy with everyone around me.

  55. Everyone on this side of the argument is still missing the point...in all areas of the constitution or political writings of the founding fathers they talk about "religion".  They do not say "Christianity".  It is the assumption of all right wing Christians that the term "religion" as it relates to this issue means Christianity and excludes the rights of all other religions and those that choose not to be religious.  This is the fundamental problem with religion when it teaches that your religion is the "firth" religion as far as god is concerned and therefthe results are conflicts!

  56. I am sorry that you choose to miss out on grace, mercy, peace, and joy because of how someone treated you.  Attending Church is to worship our God, not to enjoy the people with whom you sit.  Those who are not of the Spirit do not understand the spirit, and the only way to be filled with the Spirit is to know God by studying His word.  Just because someone goes to Church, doesn't automatically fill them with faith.  Unfortunately we all are sinners and have our own crosses to bear.  I just hope that you search for yourself instead of relying on that which may have been taught to you as a child.  God loves you, and he wants us to love one another.  I really get that concept now that I have children.  I am not smug, and I go to Church-- I wish you would come sit with me :)

  57. You obviously have a lot of hate in your heart by accusing the previous writer of being a disgrace (especially since you give no reasons to why you would say such hateful things).  My friend, it is a by-product.

  58. This is a very good entry. I agree that many Christians behave poorly toward others on a regular basis. I am surrounded in my church community with many good, decent Christians who love others in their daily walks, not just in church. They are wonderful, shining examples of what God has commanded us to do (1 - love God, 2 - love others). I also know, however, several people cut in the mold described (generally unkind to others, especially those in service positions). I am appalled that they would behave this way. We are to treat EVERYONE with love and forgiveness. That even goes for people whose lifestyles we do not agree with and/or are unbiblical (I.e. same-sex couples, drug users, people who engage in sexual activity outside of marriage, etc.). They are not for us to judge. They are for us to LOVE. God, and only God, may judge them. Only He knows their hearts. Bear in mind that He knows your heart as well. If your heart is hard to others, what would God say to you?

  59. Good for you, raking that yard, despite the circumstances! That is true service. I believe that God will reward you. Hopefully, your neighbor had his views softened by you that day and got a clearer look at his own hypocrisy (so he can change, not feel bad).

  60. Richard, you are way too quick to call non-regenerated believers (those who have mental accent that Jesus is Who He says He is) "Christians."  They are not.  "Working on our relationship with God" is NOT the Gospel.  Once the Unconditional Forever-Love of God is fully embraced, firmly planted in the *good* soil of one's heart, a life that exudes Jesus will (super) naturally result!

    Yes, "Christianity" has lost it's Way!  When Jesus is not the only Way, there is no Truth and no Life.  I'll tell you how this happened.  This is not rocket science:  When a perverted gospel is preached (requirements added to Grace) it totally strips the Gospel of it's life changing Power and NO ONE is transformed.  The apostle Paul placed a double curse on ANYONE who does this.  And it's done ALL THE TIME!  Jesus did NOT ask us to take "baby steps."  He knew that when the Law does it's job and brings us to the end of ourselves and we give up trying to be good, trying to be "a little more kind, more generous, more interruptible, more forgiving, more humble, more civil, more tolerant," and we cry out to Him in desperation, and then, by the Grace of God, He gives us the unperverted message of His unconditional love (as now), and we are willing to hear over and over, and hide (pack) into our hearts, that it will birth Jesus in us and will result in all of these things being produced in our lives in abundance, without ANY "trying"!  My life is living proof of this.

    In the most loving and truthful way possible, Richard, I humbly say that you and many other believing people and preachers are totally missing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It's regeneration FIRST, and then good works - NOT the other way around.  Otherwise, God wouldn't be accepting us just as we are; loving us unconditionally, up front, with all of our sins still upon us - but He does accept us totally (this is the Good News!).  It's not until we have the Power resulting from His Love firmly inside of us that He can even begin to change us into His likeness.  That's why it's so important to prepare your heart well, by letting it break, and then packing Grace in by hearing it, unperverted, over and over.

    "I have treasured your promise in my heart so that I may not sin against you." Psalm 119:11 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
    Here's the proof: www.amazingpromise.com

    Sincerely,
    Carl

  61. I have no idea what you're talking in regard to "regeneration."

    For my part, as a follow of Jesus of Nazareth, I proclaim the gospel that he proclaimed: "Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand." 

  62. Knowing God and knowing ones neighbor are not mutually exclusive.  If you love God you love neighbor.  However loving neighbor is not always loving God.  Loving God is about receiving from God love, forgiveness, strenth, which in turn allows us to reflect the same sort of love with neighbor.

    I like to point out there are two types of righteousness.  Righteousness before God and righteousness to our neighbor.  Both are required.  For if we do not tip well (To Improve Promptness) shows a disdain for our neighbor (waiter or waitress).  Likewise to not change diapers of our children is bad righteousness.  Righteousness before God is also required in that we should love him, but since we fail at loving God, we need God to give us His righteousness!  Hey, that is a good reason to receive it, namely Jesus Christ's righteousness.  It is both~

      To be Christian is not Republican or Democrat.  To be Christian is to have the true God working in you, two kinds of righteousness!  Bible Study, attending church will help with loving neighbor!

  63. Bravo! Especially the comment about what we leave behind when we leave wherever we have had our Sunday lunch. 

    Closer to home, literally, how we treat our spouses, our children and anyone with whom we live on a daily basis is another place where we can "work on our relationship to God", as it were.  Thomas Keating, in his book INVITATION TO LOVE,  has a wonderful quote in this regard about marriage.  "One purpose of the sacrament of marriage is to provide the grace to process each other's dark side.  In this way, marriage becomes a school of purification and transformation.  When a couple bears with each other's failures, dark sides, and weaknesses, they minister the love of God to each other.  Human love is the symbol of God's love in the sacrament of marriage and communicates it to the other person."  I began practicing at home and it transformed me and my marriage.

  64. Um......."I am sorry that you choose to miss out on grace, mercy, peace and joy"? Do you think that's an appropriate way to start a note to ANYONE? It's like you haven't even read the article Tamcam. You are passing judgement and ending it with 'I'm not smug' doesn't make it so. It's like saying to somone 'You're digustingly ugly' and then following it with 'Just kidding!' It doesn't fix the insult. Madge, I'm sorry that you had a bad experience. Not good. Maybe next time you can wear a robe and tell the nicely dressed not nicely folks that you are practicing for your upcoming Nativity play ;).

  65. Maybe some folks go to church because they know they are jerks and seek change, rather than becoming jerks once they attend. Just sayin.'

  66. Nasty questions plugged with tendentious presuppositions are not an argument, nor a decent reply. Anon, above, has a point and you avoided addressing it for your own propaganda.

  67. And yet, I liked this article.  However, I should have stopped there.  The comments have done nothing but reconfirmed that I made the right choice in my walking away from the faith. Not even Christians do themselves justice when they use a beauitifully penned manuscript to argue amongst themselves.  There is no agree to disagree.  There is hen pecking, and pulling apart our nation's legal documents, while declaring one is a better christian than another because they are pro (insert dogma of choice here). There is pulling out scripture to prove your interpretation of text is much more godly than another's.  Literalists against figurativists...though there really is no such thing as either.

    If you truely believe your Jesus changes lives, then your actions toward your fellow believers alone would be different, not withstanding the rest of the world.

    And so, with that, once again I find myself content to have walked away from the biggest lie of my life.  Carry on with your delusions.  You are only alienating yourselves.

  68. What is interesting is the natural inclination to retaliate in situations like this.  I think it very likely that whatever is going on in that neighbor's life (even if it that he's just a jerk) that contributed to his crappy attitude would make him very used to such a negative response, and that any act of kindness to him would be so out of the ordinary that it would be noticed  Even if he didn't ever acknowledge it, he likely will not forget it, and it may come to pass at some point down the road that it will be the starting point of a positive change.  We truly just never know how & when God will use us, or the manner in which it will happen.

  69. what if He would give some over-the-top gift, and I don't mean a tract? but He has gifts to give that we cannot imitate and we do wrong to servers by pretending to give. Rather, ask what he would tell a man to give: we have examples, you know. Two denarii, which is two days wages. A gold coin, which is at least a hundred dollars nowadays. a denarius for an hour's work. your other coat. Half your wealth. a perfume worth two hundred days' wages- not sure what modern item would be analogous, but it's be expensive.

  70. You make some really good points. It reminds me of the teachings of Joyce Myers and the importance she puts on growing in Christ and maturing...not just "playing church"

  71. You do realize that the New Testament was written in Greek, with only a handful of phrases in Aramaic, don't you? Also, all modern translations go back to the original Greek, not from the Latin.

  72. It appears to be a legitimate attempt to destroy conservatism for its evident evils. However, you are right that all Christians should not be tarred with this brush. Instead of 'Christian', it should refer to Protestant Christians as well as those conservative Catholics and [i am ashamed to say] Orthodox who have adopted these Protestant views.

  73. Amen! This is the reasoning don't got to church anymore. I went to a Lutheran gradeschool and once out never looked back. I had never met a more discriminative group of people who constantly look down their nose at anyone who doesn't share their beliefs. Snobs is what they were.

  74. Richard... It might interest you to know that this Republican is in total agreement with you about the state of modern Christianity, it's just too bad that 'tolerance' doesn't seem to be a two-way street.

  75. lol im suprised the wicked hell bound sinner didnt shoot you for truspassing usaly when somone negtivly says no they  mean what they say some would rather fall off into the lake of fire than to have anything to do practical faith ie relgion in action i am a christian myself but like most i to got tied of all the cults that claim to be christain coming by on vistation after being asked not to over and over grant it im all for vistation any atepmpt to reach the lost sinner bound for hell is important just the cults have made vistation  hard on manys patsionts lol lord knows we have a hospitality problem as is at times some just  feal more relusive do to all the false  demonic  counterfit relgions out there however most have no problem opening there door for the pizza man haha sad to say when Jesus stands at the door often he gets ignored or  cussed at  odd thought i know but Jesus pizzarea might work strange ministry idea maybe comical but at least would be a wittness lol anyhow God bless and thanks for the post let us walk in holiness and live seperated lives unto the lord

  76. Ironic. This kind of empty spiritualism was one reason I left Paganism behind. Perhaps it is just human nature to pretend that if we adopt ultimately meaningless practice X, then we don't actually have to address problem Y.

  77. The theology and base of christianity are sound; a moral code to act as a base for one to build character upon, but the problem is that people loose sight of the morals of being religious and only concern themselves with the practice of it, believing the two to be actively interchangeable. 

  78. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for this. To clarify, I don't want to throw Republicans under the bus. Though I understand how this post can be taken this way. The main reason for the list I gave has to do with my sociological location, where I live. Around me many people think voting Republican is an effective substitute for being a decent person. But elsewhere, to be sure, the same goes for Democrats. In fact, when I read this post to my church during a sermon I added "voting Democrat" to the list to be clear that liberals can also use political party activism as a substitute.

    Another example: My boys go to private school. I teach at one. I'm all for Christian education. What I'm speaking to is the issue of "substitution." Nothing on the list in the post is intrinsically bad. And much of it is awesome and things I engage in myself.

    The point being: Make your own list for where you live and be sure to add stuff you participate in as well (i.e., the logs in our own eyes).

  79. How do you give this angry little man up for lost to Hell and then claim yourself to be a Christian? How small you must think our Lord is. My God is Almighty. This man *will* be reached before the Last Day. My King will send good men like the author who raked this person's lawn to him to show to him what a Christian *really* is like, over and over, until the lesson sticks. Meanwhile, people like you will be lost to my Lord's call, busy turning your nose up at the "dirty sinners" with whom you would have to keep company in order to be of actual use to the Kingdom of Heaven.


    You have forgotten much. Do you think the righteousness that now covers you to allow you entrance into Heaven is born of your own efforts? We are *all* wicked hell bound sinners. To quote Isaiah, who was writing for our Lord, "ALL our righteousness is as filthy rags." Any and all good within us is the Christ in us. Alone of ourselves we are fallen and corrupt.

  80. There is one misgiving I have here, that turns this from a perfectly fine piece of writing into a propaganda lie: The claim that any of this is a recent phenomenon. By making frequent reference to 'contemporary christianity" the author makes the proclamation that this observed behaviour is somehow aberrant, that it is somehow a deviation from something that is "normally" different. It isn't, of course. It has never been. "christian" has always been a word for "jerk who doesn't care about his fellow man but intead waves texts around that he proclaims 'holy'". 500 years ago, a man wrote pretty much the same thing you wrote up there; except he formulated it as a series of theses and nailed them to a church door in Germany. You might want to read up on that. 

  81. I appreciate you taking the time to write this. It is a good reminder that interpersonal relationships are a much better thermometer of spiritual health than church attendance. Taking a crack at the false divide of "spiritual" and "secular"is fundamental to what you're talking about and without articles like yours, it will continue. We do have a collective failure as believers in America for having reputations of being argumentative, self-absorbed, and aloof.

    I did have one thought about your conclusion, that efforts of greater obedience to God (i.e., "working on your relationship with God") might actually fuel trying to be more kind, generous, interruptible, forgiving, humble, civil, tolerant, etc. Without the inner transformation of being in God's presence, our efforts to act kindly will ultimately fail. I believe this is what got us here in the first place: working to correct evils (from poverty to a broken social conscience) without the true power to work it out.

  82. Really? "Wicked Hell Bound Sinner"? Whatever happened to "Judge not, lest thee thyself be judged"? Arrogonce and self importance is exactly why I left Catholicism after turning 50. Self examination and reflection can sometimes help steer you away from the dogma and towards what really matters. Namaste.

  83. The morning after pill is designed to prevent the female from ovulating. It does not "kill" anything. Also, a zygote that has not implanted has not differentiated from the placenta. That "first cell" could just as easily be the cell that becomes part of the placenta and is later discarded regardless. The cells of a zygote pluripotent stem cells and just because a cell has the potential to become a human, does not make it a human. If you want to argue in that regard, then every time a man ejaculates, he is also killing a human. 

  84. Is knowing God really the only way to understand that we should love one another? I do not associate with any organized religion but this does not prevent me from feeling joy when I care for others. I challenge your assertion that we care about people because we have a relationship with God. Non-religious folk care about people because it's the right thing to do. Has nothing to do with God.

  85. Finally, a sensible voice to counter the far right nut cases. (And I'm a conservative with no place to go since they hijacked my party). Thank you.

  86. I have to actually ask, if there is such a demand to uphold the "separation of church and state" in schools that would prevent teachers of a given religion from expressing their beliefs onto their students, doesn't that also apply to teachers using their non-religious beliefs to bash the religions of their students? 

    In all actuality, I found this quite judgmental and offensive, in that the author clearly states how he is exaggerating in his examples, but chose to base his opinions off of those exaggerations. Personal, I myself use my Christianity in a guide to being a better human being, not a detraction from it. Christianity means that we endeavor to be Christ-like, meaning that we treat others the way we know Jesus would treat them. And the vast majority I have ever met in church have held to that same philosophy. This article does nothing but take the authors own personal (self-admitted) exaggeration and turn it around to pass a degrading stereotype over an entire group of people who simple follows a belief that he does not... THAT is the bait and switch I saw in the article.

  87. I just saw this today. Thank you for sharing this post. Clearly, there are many in the Christian community (myself included) that needs a lot of work in regards to matching their deeds with their professed faith...
    I do feel compelled to comment on the principal and general intentions of 'working on a relationship with God' (The teachings of the Bible and the actions of professed Christians). Loving your neighbor as yourself', loving your enemies, taking care of the poor, widows and orphans (Leviticus 19:18 & Mark 12:31, Matthew 5:44 & Luke 6:45, Acts 10:31 & Galatians 2:10, Deuteronomy 16:14 & James 1:27), are teachings that I put into practice in my life, but often times fall short. The reason I 'work on my relationship with God' is because I don't naturally respond to practicing what is mentioned above. Connecting with God and His words helps to bring me back to the truths and ideals that I have committed to God and myself as a human being 13 years ago (I'm 46 yrs old now). I would agree that contemporary Christianity has lost its way, and both individually and collectively we have figure out how to fix this... but as a Christian, putting God first has to be the start of the solution, because prayer, worship and connecting with God and His words are what ultimately helps us to be more kind, generous, time to be interrupted, forgiving, humble, civil, and tolerant; not the other way around.
    Thank you again for starting the conversation.

  88. I'm reminded of the scene in Steel Magnolias, where Annelle is freaking out about being late to church, and the Dolly Parton character says 'We're going to drop that off at the Eatenton house, and then you're going to go to church with me.' Annelle (the Daryl Hannah character) says, "Oh, I don't know..." and Dolly Parton's response is "Honey, God don't care what church you go to, 'long as you show up!"

    And ministering to the homeless is absolutely going to church. Church is not a building. It's a community. 

  89. Well, it is superfluous. One does not need a god to be a good person. And many people use their god to justify being a bad person. 

  90. The kinds of "Christians" you describe are the reason I'm an atheist. I don't believe any god could exist if it allows this kind of person to represent it. Trying to tell me that I'm wrong by shaking a Bible in my face is a great way to get me to say "Your views are ridiculous." 

    I wish I could believe in a god. Today's "Christians" make that impossible. 

  91. Is it a bait and switch or a lack of knowledge? For so long, American Christians have only been taught that the surface level disciplines relate to relationship because checking off that list is the "how-to" formula. Could it be that they have missed out that spiritual disciplines like bible reading, worship, fasting, and service are to help fuel them in ALL aspects of their lives and be outer representations of what's in their hearts? The "Jesus Creed" of His ministry held high the two-fold "Love God with all your heart/soul/mind/strength" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." When enacting those things, the relationship with Jesus and desire to Love should effect and affect all aspects of daily life. When teaching the disciples, Jesus never said to toss out the Torah. According to the Gospels, He simply pointed out that loving God and your neighbor fulfill the heart of the law. 

    The way I interpret your post in conjunction with Jesus is that you are saying that your student only had half the picture that Jesus shows us in the Gospel. Your challenge to her was to see how relationship with God isn't something you passively work on--it is constantly expressed in our interactions with the people around us. Luke 6:45 says that out of the storeroom of a man's heart, he speaks, so maybe American Christians haven't received the fullness of what Jesus embodied. Maybe they want to get into worship and bible study because they know they need more information but they don't know how to access the download from those disciplines and the scriptures. They are simply piling it on like layers of make-up instead of allowing Jesus to give them the strength-training they need to live healthier, more loving lives. 

  92. I don't believe Christ existed, or exists today. Not with these followers as an example of what he taught. Hard to seek something that's fictional.

  93. You reach the second by doing the first, is what my father always said. (He was one of about four Christians that I actually felt lived what Christianity was about, too.)

  94. If the ultimate goal is not to be a good person, I question the goal. If the goal is to glorify oneself and set oneself up on a pedestal (by being a "good Christian" that gets recognized by others as such), that's evil in the extreme. 

  95. Don't believe in people, believe in God.  Yeah, Christians are ridiculous.  ALL of us are ridiculous in our own way, including myself.  So just ignore us, and believe in God.  That's what I've had to do.  Honestly, it's the only thing that keeps me sane.  That and finding people that have similar beliefs as myself.  It's been difficult, but even just one friend who agrees with you is heartening.  Don't give up on God.  But honestly, I gave up on people a long time ago. 

  96. My children don't always behave the way I want them to either.  Sometimes they are rude, and sometimes they are mean.  But I still love them, and I will continue to slowly and patiently teach them to be kind and do what is good.

  97. I'm pretty sure the general intention of being like Jesus (or Christianity) is to be nice, because it's the right thing to do.  It's just that we use Jesus as a perfect example, and not just our conscience.  I'm not saying it's better than atheism, just want you to have your facts straight here.  I know some have perverted this view and the Bible into fear-mongering but not all Christians do that.  Let's not overgeneralize.

  98. I don't think this can be said of all religions.  When was the last time you met a hypocritical Buddhist?

  99. That's like saying, "I don't believe in Superman, because all these people trying to be like him fail miserably."  Of course Christians fail miserably at being like Christ.  They are human.  He is not. 

  100. As a Christian, I'm going to have to agree with you, Violet.  That has never made sense to me either.  People can be kind and generous, and be Muslim, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, and so on.  In fact, I know people much more kind and caring than myself that are one of the previous non-Christian categories.  Being Christian (even a true Christian) does not mean that your kindness is greater than those around you.  In fact, it just means that it's the reason that you, personally, desire to be kind.  Others desire to please Allah, or just desire to be good for goodness' sake.

  101. I'm in total agreement with you. I too, left the faith. I loved this article, but, from the comments, I see that it will probably fall on deaf ears. I am glad I left the faith. I am a far happier and kinder human being for it.

  102. I have to disagree. Bible Study and attending church will do nothing of the sort.  The fact is, if you do not WANT to be a better, kinder, more compassionate human being, no amount of church attendance and Bible reading is going to change that. In fact, millions of Christians read the words written in their Bible to justify their hatred, bigotry and prejudices against their neighbors of different faith, no faith or neighbors that happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. If that is what it means to have the "true God working in you", you can keep him.

  103. Unregenerate means not born again.  Those, the masses, who have intellectual accent of who Jesus is, but for whom the Word, the Grace, of God has bounced off the rock hard soil of their heart or was snatched away by the devil or choked out by the cares of this world are the ones in whom the amazing promise of God, the Word, has never taken root.  Therefore they have never been reborn of God.  How could we possibly expect them to exhibit Christ on the outside when they don't really have Him on the inside - they only THINK they do?  It's clearly the masses because it's a massive problem.  Just look around, as you said.

    For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
    1 Peter 1:23

    seed = Word = Grace = Jesus = God's Love, imperishable = unfailing
    His LOVE endures FOREVER
    www.amazingpromise.com

  104. Repentance is only part of the first, but very necessary, step of salvation.  Rebirth is required in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

  105. Man, I really understood this...and agreed wholeheartedly!!  What a great message anytimebut especially this time of year for those "Christians" who won't even see themselves in this.

  106. I appreciate this down-to-earth (and where else should we be anyway?) approach to a "costly" Christianity. 

  107. if Christians actually just followed Christ's example, being humble, charitable, non-judgmental, and basically nice, the world would be a fantastic place. but a substantial percentage of them don't. nice article.

  108. Yeah. Most definitely not a Christian. He rewrote the Bible to remove the supernatural parts that he didn't believe.

    It was considerably shorter.

  109. Hmmm. . . y'know, for all Rob's stream of consciousness writing style and unique punctuation and spelling, he's really saying something here—and I think he's saying it with a lot of humor! So how about we all just smile and lighten up on the moralizing?

  110. Oh boy do I disagree with this...while at the same time agreeing!    First, you are RIGHT ON with the "mending of relationships" and I applaud that.  I, as a man in my late 40's, a serious church person for 15 years, and an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church for four I cannot tell you how many times I have met people, including a recent person baptised at my parish, who held back waiting "until they were good enough."  Like you I prompted them to realize that who we are at this very moment IS good enough - and thus I agree with you on that.  As to your laundry list that follows I do not.
       First, we live in a cultre where time (which really means priority) is valuable.  With us wanting to read the Sunday papers, watch the Sunday poliltical shows, take our kids to the Sunday games/practices - it seems convenient to ebrace the idea of no regular church/worship etc.  But by doing so we throw out the very basics of our Christian faith.  Paul's letters spell out how we are supposed to uphold our faith (which incldes prayer and regular worship).  This guy known as Jesus on whom Christianity is based asked us to enter into communion (as a community) by doing "this" (with bread and wine) "in rememberance of me."
       Thus by saying that these do not need to be done, throws away the very core of our faith.  Yes, as you hint at and commenters surmise, "religious folks have screwed this up."  Yep, they have and will.  Just as democrats have failed, and republicans and teachers, and college sports figures....yet we still send our kids to school and ask them to go to college.  The cop out here is that it is easy to say "worship and prayer do not matter" because it is convenient to do so.  This is the danger.
       We Christians need to be "thinking" Christians.  If we do not like what we are hearing from the pulpit or shudder at what our fellow worshippers are doing, we need to question that, and ourselves and challenge both.  They might be wrong, but so might we.  Again the cop out is to take the easy way and neglect it and say "I'm a fine Christian without the "stuff."  Yet Bonhoeffer who you quote in  your "headline" was an every Sunday worshipper and prayer person AND he tried to kill Hitler, thus his life is not an example of how church and prayer do not matter, but how it can inform, inspire and help one to make a difficult choice to "kill" when a commandment says "no."
       If we are not immersed in prayer, than we are not in conversation with God.  If we are not in a worshipping community, then we do not have the ready opportunity to be challenged, to question or to make space each week to sit in the presence of God.
       By not availing ourselves of these New Testament biblical principals we make ourselves "god" - who tells us that when we drink to much, go to the strip club, cut the guy off on the freeway, and regulary show our middle finger - okay, becuase we do not put ourselve reguarly into a routine where we check ourselves.
       Thus we are back to the "both/and" which the Anglican/Episcopal church is based.  Christ calls us to certain areas, his Apostles, like Paul, show us how, and later follwers like Bonhoeffer indicate the very life giving importance of this.  To ignore or misuse these, as you have done (in my humble opinion) only invites evil/devil/satan in to make itself comfortable.  Like wise I would love to lose weight by telling me I will do it my way, but the best way is living into a discipline and practice which leads to the results I desire. 

  111. More importantly, the fact that state expressions of religion were permitted isn't evidence that they were allowed - it just means that the clear meaning of the First Amendment's wording "no establishment of religion" was ignored for a great deal of our history. And I am amazed that anyone still spreads the myth that the Puritans - not the Separatists (commonly referred to as "Pilgrims") - came to America for religious freedom. They came precisely to discriminate against other religious views, and they did so in cases like Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which led to (as J. Mashak mentions) the formation of Rhode Island. (Interesting fact: Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution because it lacked any protection for religious freedom, which they already had and didn't want to lose, and it was only the guarantee of the Bill of Rights that convinced them to ratify.)

  112. It applies equally in terms of advocacy, yes - non-religious views are treated the same way under the law as religious views, so that if I advocate (in a very hypothetical situation) that my students relinquish their religious views because they're meaningless superstition, then I am just as guilty of a church-state entanglement. (For the record, I am a teacher, I am religious, and I go to great lengths to make sure that I keep my personal views on religion and politics fairly private so there is no threat of coercion, including making disclaimers when studying religious beliefs like Puritanism and Calvinism in my American literature course (it's useful for understanding Jonathan Edwards, The Crucible, and even Nathaniel Hawthorne to a degree).


    Also, Dwayne, I think you've mischaracterized both the author and his argument somewhat. One, you seem to be suggesting that Dr. Beck isn't a Christian (at least, that's the only thing I can think of that "who simple [sic] follows a belief that he does not" could mean), which isn't true. Two, the "exaggeration" was in the rhetoric used, but the example was accurate, as many have attested. (My brief experience as a server my freshman year of college produced several instances of bad tippers, but I never had the explicitly religious ones who left tracts. Then again, I waited tables in the small town where I grew up and where my father was a pastor, so the chances of that weren't very high in the first place. I had lots of people who would leave pocket change for whole tables, which was infuriating. I'm grateful that I've never had to work as a server since that job.)

  113. And even aside from that, it's really not worth arguing against such an incoherently argued (and written!) position.

  114. I also agree...but find most of life is a delusion...Friends betray, bodies die, social structures limit. My faith is a struggle to find hope in daily living.  The incarnational message of Jesus and the invitation to discipleship is a path of love that motivates a way of LIVING not talking. 

  115. Sadly, this article is completely backward. It's funny to see how everyone is trying to diagnose the "problem with contemporary Christianity." While I admit there's a huge problem, the diagnosis here is a shot in the dark. There is no scriptural basis for doing good works and growing closer to God as a result. The Galatians were in fact strongly rebuked for this very thing. Furthermore, If good works and acts of decency are all we are after, how different are we than buddhist monks? God isn't merely after good behavior, and I would even argue that God is not after our own "natural" human good behavior. The source is not Christ, it's us. We surely need to be saved from anything we do for God out of our own "self." The converse is allowing the Lord to live in us. (Gal 2:20) There's also a reason John says "He must increase but I must decrease." 


    Actually, the girl was closer to the truth than she thought. Since the Lord said, among many other things, "Come unto Me..." in Matthew and Hebrews 12:2 says "Looking away unto Jesus," it seems there is a trend in the bible that indicates God only cares that we come forward to Christ, to spend time with Him. The female student's time would have been much better spent on personal prayer and fellowship with the Lord and/or other believers, then, as a result, the issue would be the "acts" of kindness, love, mercy, patience, and all the other divine attributes of Christ lived out in her human virtues. When we spend time with the Lord, we become more one with Him. He makes His home in our heart (Eph 3:17) and we gradually develop the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) until we're one with Him to such an extent that our doing is just His doing. Forget trying to do things for God! Forget trying to wax this piece of fallen garbage! Take time to behold Him and spontaneously the treasure (Christ) in our earthen vessel (2 Cor 4:7) will shine forth. 

    I believe this characterizes the proper "relationship with God." May the Lord grant all of us such a relationship with Him.

  116. I find it amazing that Christians are *being* called all sorts of disparaging names, while being accused of being the hateful ones.  Disagreeing with something is not 'hating' it.  And the disagreement with birth control has NOTHING to do with not wanting people to enjoy sex or wanting them to suffer negative consequences.  It has NOTHING to do with seeing childbirth as any punishment.  Christians see children as a great blessing.  Please, read Theology of the Body for an understanding of the grounds for objecting to birth control. 

  117. Hmm... Somehow the responses I am reading (specifically toward Rob) are becoming examples of the original post - Can Christians still be "decent human beings?"  Respectful in our responses to others even if we disagree?

  118. I can explain your problem very quickly: "Faith Alone". If "works" mean nothing, then one doesn't need to care the tiniest bit about how one acts, so long as one is "faithful" enough. The attitude you see is part and parcel of "faith only" flavors of Christianity, e.g., Evangelical Protestantism, "non-denominational" Christians, etc.

  119. Adam, Jesus wasn't a Christian. God isn't a religion. In fact Jesus, via Christian writings, spent a great deal of his short time on earth bashing the hypocrisy of the religious, cursing them even as "snakes and vipers" and "hypocrites." You're in good company if you think that way ; ) Don't let any person keep you from Truth, if I may be so bold to make a suggestion.

  120. Emily, I"ve seen that too. When I decided to become a "Christian" follower of Jesus a few years ago, I was reluctant to that call because of their poor reputation. As for restaurants, I'm a huge tipper, trying to right some perceptions. Obviously good Christians aren't as interesting or visible to blog about. 

  121. I actually have me quite a few 'Buddhists" who don't even know of the four noble truths, let alone about suffering and desire. For many "Buddhists" I've encountered, they are more of a new-age warm fuzzy notion of maybe believing in something. Not that that is bad; but my point is that yes, I've known hypocritical Buddhists. Labeling oneself Buddhist is more culturally acceptable in some circles than say, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. IMHO people of all beliefs and unbeliefs are hypocrites, and I by saying that, reveal that I am one as well ; )

  122. Jeff, I think Jesus was talking to a person who was hung up and addicted to his money and stuff. Not every single Christian has to follow that advise. However, obviously more should than have, and some of my more materialistic friends say God has made them prosper. I don't relate, having given most of my "stuff" away per the directive you quote ; ) I imagine there are non-Christians who would do well to abandon greed, desire and distraction as well. It's a much freer life, in my own experience ; )

  123. how come so often a sentence like "We are *all* wicked hell bound sinners....ALL our righteousness is as filthy rags" sounds like the "We" and the "our" should be a "you" and "yours".  I've seen this used so often to veneer a self righteous sort of disgust with truthtelling. 

  124. Every Christian should go to some early service one Sunday and show up at brunch, in sweats, at 10:00am.  Just notice the condescending stares and self righteous glares from the sanctimonious "church people" as they come in.  Order a bloody mary to make the experience of shame complete.  After a maternity leave when I was on bed rest and one my rare outings was such an occasion (sans bloody mary) I have a new respect for people who have not found a home in the church and how they are treated.

  125. That someone goes to church hardly means they're going to church *as a substitute for* being kind to others.  That an old woman went off to help people in the inner city while the man she spoke with went to church does not mean he never helps anyone else.  That he was going to church that day tells us nothing about how he has spent the rest of his life.  Why the rush to bash Christians?  Why not spend that time doing good for others instead?  If Christians said the same things about any other group that is being said here about them, they'd be called hateful, and 'mean-spirited.' 

  126. I don't know who or what you are, but those things you denigrate, if taken seriously,  help make us better, more caring people.  You actually told me quite a lot about yourself when you put voting Republican on your list, as if that is a bad thing.    Now let me tell you a bit about myself:  I go to church every Sunday, I pray daily,  I read/study the Bible, I do NOT argue with evolutionists because God caused everything to happen in a timeline early humans were incapable of understanding, I genuinely prefer G or PG rated movies, I tip generously whenever I eat out, I freely and generously donate time and money to various charities, I've spent countless hours volunteering to help others, and I usually vote Republican.  I certainly don't fit your mold.  I walk the walk and talk the talk. Having an intimate relationship with God leads one to become  the person God wants us to be.   Faith leads one to do good works, but the reverse isn't necessarily so.  I also do my  level best not to make value judgements of other people.  Can you say the same?

  127. I grew up with parents that took me to church but never insisted I believe what they believed.  Entering my teen years, I took adult baptism and earned my God and Country medal for scouting.  In college, I seriously considered going to seminary.  But I didn't, and after much drifting, eventually left the church entirely.

    One of the defining moments of that departure was an encounter with Campus Crusade for Christ.  A acquaintance of mine was a member, though I was not.  She attempted suicide, unsuccessfully, thankfully.  Afterward, I had the opportunity to spend an evening with her, listening and trying to be supportive.

    She had typical college problems.  She was failing, despite her best efforts to do well in her classes.  She had unforgiving and harsh parents and a father who was emotionally abusive.  Her boyfriend had dumped her over something trivial.  But the kicker was when she tried to reach out to her friends in Campus Crusade.

    Instead of getting emotional support, instead of getting love, she got a lecture on how she wasn't doing enough to work on her relationship with God.  They insisted that her problems were related to her not praying enough or being in church enough and were contemptuous in how they told her this.  These "Christians" not only failed to love her, but turned against her in her hour of need.  That's when she went for the bottle of pills.

    It was a blow to my beliefs.  There were many more before I left the church.  In the end, I realized that for every good loving person I knew who called themselves a Christian, I knew three who hid behind the name "Christian" while propagating hatred, bigotry, and downright nastiness toward their fellow man.  It became clear that for many, they only used the religion to make themselves feel superior, not to actually try to be better humans or glorify God.

    My relationship with God is fine.  My attempts to be a loving person as modeled by Jesus continue daily.  But I will never again call myself Christian or be a member of an organized religion with that name.

  128. Actually, I have never discriminated against anybody. One of my better friends is Muslim and I'm Catholic. I'm am not racist and never have been(Although I don't like the people of France because they don't like Americans). I don't discriminate against people with different beliefs than me, although members of the Left are constantly spitting on my beliefs. And I've never discriminated against the poor. And I have never discriminated against gay people. I believe a gay person can get married. Any man can get married to a woman and vice versa.

  129. I am sorry for your experience, but the people of your church do not represent all Christians. I believe it's a good thing to dress well for God, but the important thing is to get to the service to learn about Jesus.

  130. The trouble is that this is no "bait and switch," this is precisely what Christianity demands of its followers, the focus of the religious text itself has never been about treating one's fellow man better, in fact, it has much more to say about which elements of humanity are okay to slaughter, and which women the men may keep as spoils of war.

  131. Can Christians still be "decent human beings?" Absolutely not if you actually follow the text in full.

  132. I don't go out to eat on sundays. Or go to stores or any other place of work unless absolutely necessary. Why? Because there is only one thing more disheartening on sunday than to be a believer who has to work on sunday rather then go to church so that other believers can come to my place of work before or after church. That thing is to have a friend who wants to come to church either for the first time or after a long time gone who can't because they work. This happens quite regularly for me. Every sunday in fact! And than to think that they would be looked upon in this way is sad. whether the person is a believer or not, a true disciple of christ would not be unkind or judgmental for the lord knows their hearts. There are many reasons to keep the sabath day holly, refer to exodus 20 for more details.

  133. Why would you assume she is "missing out on grace mercy peace and joy" just because she chooses not to go eat after church? Why would you assume that if one doesn't go to Church, one isn't one with God? Do you really believe that God only exists inside the pricy buildings and only listens to those that are seen in the pews? And then you say "I'm not smug"? You should examine your belief system some and see why you equate the building with the faith so strongly that you seem to think that without the building, there is no faith.

  134. One has to be careful not to take a few isolated instances of poor behavior and broad brush paint the whole Christian community (i.e. the body of Christ).  That said, there is a BIG difference in talking the talk and WALKING THE WALK.  Which I think is the point the article.  However, to even suggest that Christians should not spend time in prayer or the study of God's Holy Word, is simply irresponsible.  It is through scripture that Christians learn to model Christ.  "Let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 2:5.  Do Christians have bad moments, absolutely.  But we are called to have the mind of Christ and mirror His example, His character, and His love.   The number one question each and every Christian should ask themselves is this, "Am I a fan of Christ or a FOLLOWER of Christ?"   Being a fan is easy, being a true follower is quite different.  Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

  135. Umm, you should go to SE Asia. There's plenty of hypocritical Buddhists. :) However, I don't have an issue with the author singling out Christians, as that is his focus, his circle. I appreciated what he said very much.

  136. You could click on "About" to see more about the author. You could read Luke 18 to see yourself.

  137. You've never discriminated against anybody yet you don't like the people of France.  Hypocrisy, how does that work?

  138. The point of Jesus' coming was not that we would be 'decent human beings" but that we would be in relationship with him. Most especially, He did not call us to be "decent human beings" apart from Him.

  139. Paul,

    Your comment about the gospel is spot on. I would add that while I agree that this brother may be mostly right in his diagnosis, the "Isn't it ironic that Christians are the rudest, most obnoxious people in the world?" bit (especially the part about how we're horrible tippers) is so worn out one almost wonders if it was ever true en masse. Seems like so much über-pious self-loathing on the part of Christians who assert it, and, for non-believers, a convenient avenue for dismissing the claims of Christianity without actually dealing with them.

    Grace and peace,
    Michael

  140. That "any man can get married to a woman" line is absurd. Very similar reasoning was used to uphold anti-miscegenation laws before Loving v. Virginia, and the Supreme Court recognized that such arguments were untenable. If you advocate that same-sex marriage should not be allowed, yes, you are discriminating. (And by your logic that even a gay man could marry a woman and a lesbian could marry a man, you're discriminating against straight men who might want to marry a man or straight women who might want to marry a woman.)

  141. "You have a number of Atheists that think you are right on the mark. That is interesting." - That's quite the insinuation of guilt by association, Anonymous. Here's a clue for you: An atheist agreeing with a position doesn't invalidate the position or even suggest that it might be wrong, and it is patently absurd to even insinuate such.

    And if becoming a better person isn't a goal of your faith, you're doing it wrong, and it won't happen even as a by-product. In fact, I'd love to see you defend that position using the words of Jesus or the gospels in general. I think you'll find that Jesus gave the example of how to act righteously (not self-righteously) not through prayer, reading Scripture, or worshipping with fellow believers, but through interactions with other people in daily life.

  142. As a Christian, all I can say is that you hit the nail on the head!!  Could not agree more!!

  143. This is fantastic.  I think this is exactly what Christians do.  I have thought that the main reason for church is to be in community and what better way to be in community than being kind to those we encounter.  I would love to see what happens if Christians would treat their waitress kindly on Sunday lunch.  Oh what the difference it would mean and then maybe they would know us as Christian by the way we act. 

  144. I maintain my position that we are all God's PR and good needs new PR reps.  So often Christians try to save the world with words.  Words are so much easier to give than time or thought.  I wish I could disagree with you, but sadly it's the truth.  People "work on their relationship with God" hoping that God will magically make them a better person.....that God will make it easy to do the right thing....that God will solve all their problems.  God can do all those things, but he dose it through putting us in situations where we can LEARN how.  These lessons often go unlearned.  People lack the patience to see each opportunity God gives us.  It is so much easier to be a Christian in word than in deed.  This is why I am very private about my relationship with God.  I am not perfect, I will never be, and I hate to be a stumbling block to anyone because I can assure you that more often than not my words and actions do not reflect a Godly person.  Because I am a human.  God made me, he knows every hair in my head, every thought and every deed....and He deals with me accordingly.  I feel like I do God a disservice if I go out and try to save the world with my words and then use my words to curse out the idiot driver in front of me.  So right now I will take words and redefine "working on my relationship with God" let it mean
    Opening yourself up spiritually and listening to what is is God is saying to you.  Learning the lessons of kindness and empathy that God is trying to teach you.  Learning humility by serving others.  Trying to actually follow in the footsteps of the Lord and receive no attention for it, tell no one.  Go out and do something nice, let no one see, just leave a note that says....Love, God.  (and by reading this blog, and stopping for a minute to examine myself and my own spiritual needs I can check "worked on my relationship with God" off my  to do list for the day)  Peace and may God Bless you for your insight.

  145. I apologize if that is difficult to read, my formatting didn't carry over and I don't see how to edit it.

  146. Q. To Jesus the Christ: "Rabbi, what must I do to be saved?"  A. From Jesus the Christ: "Love God and Love your neighbor."  Note what was NOT in the answer... go to church, obey a rule, worship Jesus...  I wish more "Christians" would follow Jesus' instructions and stop trying to religious.

  147. That's very true! It's a sad reality that Christian like me tends to forget that being a true Christan does not stop by loving God. One of the verses in the Bible stated that we are lying when we said we love God when in fact we hate the person who hurts us or we thought hurt us. How come we could say we love God who we did not see and hate the person who we could see? Then, we are liars, and the Bible added that liars will not go to heaven. So the point is, we have to ponder ourselves if we really love God as we claim we do. Remember what Jesus said that whatever you do to the least of His children, you do it to Him.

  148. I find many (most!) of these posts fascinating.... (I should preface my remarks by saying I walked away from Christianity many years ago because I simply couldn't buy into the ideological premises of the Nicean Creed).  (1) The thing I find *most* striking -- raised as a Roman Catholic -- is that the word 'Christian' is used almost as a synonym for Protestant fundamentalist and evangelical sects.  One would never know that in 34 of the 50 states, Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian body.  (2) Another thing I find a bit strange is the lack of biblical citations used in the arguments....  I was raised on "judge not that ye may be judged not", the story of the Widow's Mite, "it is more blessed to give than to receive", repeated condemnations of hypocrisy, the story of the Rich Man and the Eye of the Needle, etc, etc.  It would seem that if one believes that the Bible is the Word of God (and assuming you are a follower of God) you would memorize the Bible (for starters) and follow every single thing Jesus says. (3) I was raised in a Catholic environment which endorsed poverty as a Biblical ideal and giving away what one has as the highest form of 'following Jesus' (again, read the New Testament).  Yet I find most Protestants find accumulation of wealth and 'social position' much more important -- if one observes how they live -- than 'becoming like Jesus' (who I might remind you was a broke itinerant preacher, much like an early St. Francis of Assisi!).  (4) Last, it seems that many Christians seem obsessed with 'fellowship' -- which as best as I can figure out means 'hanging out with other Christians', especially on Sundays.  Since I've known quite a few Benedictine monks over the years, I'm a bit puzzled on why Protestants seem to so firmly reject the idea of 'getting away from the world' and so bent on becoming successful (i.e. prosperous)  businessmen.  Jesus certainly was not trying to found a financially successful church and attract 'viewership' or 'a large congregation' when he wandered around with 12 guys (one of who turned out to be a traitor!).  And hanging out with reformed prostitutes just doesn't seem the kind of thing most pastors (or Christians) seem to do any more.  They seem more bent on putting those folks down and kicking them out of their 'fellowship circles'.  It's almost as if most Christians are trying to infiltrate and overthrow the ideas of their religion (which is known technically as 'subversion').   Last comment: a Christian (Roman Catholic) group that -- it seems to me -- tries to live like Jesus did is The Catholic Worker movement.  Y'all might Google it and check out how they practice Christianity.... My wife and I don't have any faith in your religion, but when we have old things that someone else might find to be treasures we pop them into the car and drive on over to The Catholic Worker building here in Houston and drop em there.  Some broke lady from Honduras who doesn't speak English and whose husband ran off from her might really like to have that sorry old 'kid's bike' that's been in the garage forever..... Hey, Christians.... It's almost Christmas!  And your leader was born in a STABLE to a couple HOMELESS folks. (Repeating disclaimer: I can't believe in your religion, but I like lots of stuff about it... just not how folks seem to practice it....)

  149. people need to learn to love people as jesus does. Actions do speak louder than words. I was banned from talking about God for awhile, but i now see why. Because I always talked about how great God is, and never lived it out. So, if you really want to become a more spiritual being, then love others as God loves you.

  150. you are right on. the modern christianist/dominionists culture of the last half century have turned traditional christianity on it's head, replacing the the messages at the core of christ's teaching of compassion - loving one's neighbor as your brother, treating oneanother with the same respect and care as you would wish to be treated, charity to those in need, - and standing up, as Jesus did, for social justice whenever it might be denied or delayed due to the fears, absence of faith and sinful acts of our brothers and sisters. For stretches of time, the major religions sharing this golden rule of compassion as the cornerstones of faith in action, have abdicated their relationship with god in favor of an agenda created by and for the self-serving interests of men seeking power, wealth and their own self-appointed authority for God in issues of right and wrong that promote perverted and ungodly cultural values by playing to the fears of man, even to the point where the cardinal sins and breaking of the 10 commandments are exalted to the point where, for instance, greed is good, gluttony is a god-given right for the "faithful", pride is encouraged, and dispensing wrath is, instead, a god-given responsibility rather than a sin.
    This is how the world has been witness to the crusades, the Spanish inquisition, pogroms against jews or gypsies or gays. This is how the KKK started, the nazi's came to power, al-Queda grew, Timothy McVeigh became a "soldier of god and country", and how "religious" groups continue to employ sinful strategies denying equal rights to others because these children of god don't fit their warped beliefs born from fear and misguidance despite the fact doing so is wholly antithetical to the traditional teachings of the great religions.

    But these abhorations never last long before they usher themselves into the dustbins of history. The essential truths of god's love and the precepts of his word can never be extinguished. A reawakening is always on the horizon. Much like what is happening today. A rebirth of the traditional interdominational concept of "faith"as being the active living of Christ's teachings (in the case of Christianity) rather than "faith" being misconstrued as merely a "blind belief" unrelated to our responsibility to our fellow man as the primary part and parcel to our commitment to God.

    It is an inspiring and transformative moment in history. We are being forced by events around us to consider the true meanings of our faiths and how they directly pertain to our responsibilities to one another. This self reflection makes such global, cross-denominational (and social) reawakenings possible, so we might come home, together, - to the great gifts bestowed on all of us by our creator. And for which, we are truly blessed, humbled, and are as one, - brothers and sisters all.

  151. I am sorry about that man. God loves you and is pursuing you SO much right now. I am not trying to be hypocritical or anything, because I know that I still make mistakes and will still make mistakes for the rest of my life, but I am just going to pray that you would find God because he is right behind you every step of the way. God Bless

  152. You are totally on point, Paul, except for one thing.  Being born again is what starts the relationship, not prayer, worship, reading the Bible, or any other "discipline."  Faith is definitely required to start the relationship.  So, the question becomes, what produces faith in someone?  Romans 10:17 says hearing the Word, the promise, of God (planting the Promise in the good soil of your heart so it can be born in you) produces faith.  So what promise???  The One contained in His name of LORD: He is good; His love endures forever - the very promise Jesus completely fulfilled...Jesus is LORD!  www.amazingpromise.com

  153. When I was growing up, with a fundamentalist Mother and an alcoholic Father, by my mid teens, I had learned a lot..already there were two things I did not want to ever become...A hypocritical Christian or an abusive alcoholic...

    At 64 I'm able to say I have achieved both...I can, also, say I have a rich fulfilling spiritual life and can have an alcoholic beverage on occasion...
    Nor did I skirt the issues..I drove head-on into them...and came out the other side...

    I have to add the"working on the relationship with God" thing was just as strong back in the 1950s as now.
    I've never seen any other group more willing to put their heads in the sand and not take responsibility for anything...
    "it's God's will", "God's plan"...

    Was Jim Jones part of the plan?

  154. You are right on the nose.

    The modern christianists/dominionist culture of the last half century has turned traditional christianity on it's head, replacing the the messages at the core of christ's teaching of compassion - loving one's neighbor as your brother, treating oneanother with the same respect and care as you would wish to be treated, charity to those in need, - and standing up, as Jesus did, for social justice whenever it might be denied or delayed due to the fears, absence of faith and sinful acts of our brothers and sisters. For stretches of time, the major religions sharing this golden rule of compassion as the cornerstones of faith in action, have abdicated their relationship with god in favor of an agenda created by and for the self-serving interests of men seeking power, wealth and their own self-appointed authority for God in issues of right and wrong that promote perverted and ungodly cultural values by playing to the fears of man, even to the point where the cardinal sins and breaking of the 10 commandments are exalted to the point where, for instance, greed is good, gluttony is a god-given right for the "faithful", pride is encouraged, and dispensing wrath is, instead, a god-given responsibility rather than a sin. 

    This is how the world has been witness to the crusades, the Spanish inquisition, pogroms against jews or gypsies or gays. This is how the KKK started, the nazi's came to power, al-Queda grew, Timothy McVeigh became a "soldier of god and country", and how "religious" groups continue to employ sinful strategies denying equal rights to others because these children of god don't fit their warped beliefs born from fear and misguidance despite the fact doing so is wholly antithetical to the traditional teachings of the great religions. 

    But these abhorations never last long before they usher themselves into the dustbins of history. The essential truths of god's love and the precepts of his word can never be extinguished. A reawakening is always on the horizon. Much like what is happening today. A rebirth of the traditional interdominational concept of "faith"as being the active living of Christ's teachings (in the case of Christianity) rather than "faith" being misconstrued as merely a "blind belief" unrelated to our responsibility to our fellow man as the primary part and parcel to our commitment to God.

    It is an inspiring and transformative moment in history. We are being forced by events around us to consider the true meanings of our faiths and how they directly pertain to our responsibilities to one another. This self reflection makes such global, cross-denominational (and social) reawakenings possible, so we might come home, together, - to the great gifts bestowed on all of us by our creator. And for which, we are truly blessed, humbled, and are as one, - brothers and sisters all.
     

  155. Yeah, you wouldn't want to do anything dramatic, like stop believing in a ridiculous old book that offers no moral guidance...that might upset your relationship with God!

  156. I believe that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is vital to being a better person. A person doesn't have to do all the things on the list that religion taught us we should do. Just giving some time to get to know Him is important. When we want to get to know someone what do we do? We spend time with them. The bible is one way to get to know Him. Jesus was the one that taught us how to be better people. We have just screwed that message up over the years. Christians have forgotten how important it is to live like Jesus. When you have a close personal relationship with Him, naturally you want to live like He did and love everyone the same. Be the example. People will learn more about Jesus from others' doing than others' telling. That part I agree with, but a personal relationship with Jesus should be the priority.

  157. The reward is in the doing, feeling one's alignment with Infinite Goodness, giving up the internal irritation that comes with protecting our ego.

  158. When I started waiting on these people in restaurants, I started to stop being one of them.

  159. Some of us do wake up in the morning asking God to help us be the kind of person that is pleasing to him in relation to others.  I fail, at times in doing that & have to ask God to forgive me for not being patient or some other thing I lack.  I also do try to ask that other person to forgive me too. I believe we do strive to grow more like Christ every day.  I may fall, but I get back up & try to do better.  Yes, there are many out there that have known me  when I was angry or impatient with them.  I'd like to publicly apologize to those family & friends that I hurt at those times. We are growing every day of our lives till we take our last breath.  May we be remembered for something good that we said or did, not for the bad.

  160. You have a mismatch on your question and answer:  Matthew 22: 34-40 says:   34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    and

    Luke 18:18-23 says, 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

  161. So is Jesus simply a leader in ethical behavior is there more, a heroic element, letting Jesus live in your heart?

  162. you're wrong...nowhere in the constitution does it say anything about the separation of church and state. you need to reread the 1st amendment!

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