John W. Loftus wrote an article on being a preacher that got me thinking. While I was never a pastor, I certainly was a member of many a church, and can well-recall the infighting that took place.
Both of my parents were always either a Deacon or a Deaconess. The only time they weren’t was in the required sabbatical after serving two terms, and even then they were on the missions committee, the Sunday School committee, etc. They were Sunday School teachers, VBS teachers, Awana Teachers. We seemed to attend every service there was. Sometimes it seemed they made up services, just to have something to do!
And just like every other kid, when they talked in hushed tones, and whispers on the way home from church, I listened as hard as I could, without appearing to be listening. And I was observant enough to figure out some, just by watching.
I remember one lady that everyone knew was fighting with another family and made it a point to always sit as far from them as possible at every function. God could not mark her tardy, because she was certainly THERE, but we all knew she had reserved enough of her humanity to demonstrate she was not happy about the other family being there. If I was in that family, I would not have wanted to be in her headlights in a dark alley!
I remember one Sunday the adults had to have a “joint” Sunday School, because most of the teachers called in sick in protest of the new Sunday School Teacher Superintendent’s policy change.
I knew of a church in our area that split, and my parents happened to support the “wrong” side of the split. I knew this because the pastor that stayed became the Principal at our Christian school and made our lives hell. (Funny bit. This Pastor/Principal once called in the youth pastor of our church and started to describe this “horrid” family that was in his church, and after a few moments, our youth pastor realized he was talking about us. The youth pastor was my brother-in-law! Because of the difference in name, the Pastor did not realize it!)
In my adult life, I know of a Christian college student taking classes towards becoming an accountant. So a church made him their treasurer. After he embezzled $90,000, they re-thought this position.
I know pastor’s wives that had drug habits, pastor’s that had affairs, and deacons with habits that would curl your toes.
I have sat in many a church discussion, and watched how people were unwilling to share with other Christians their REAL problems. They knew that it would go from “prayer request” to local gossip in less time than it takes to sneeze. I watched business meetings where a group of people walked out because some pictures were taken off the wall.
I have seen meanness, pettiness, craziness, and downright viciousness in churches that would make schoolyard bullies blush with shame. Christians are well-aware of it, and play their cards close to their chest, always afraid of what the next clash, or next fight or next issue will rear up. I have seen this since I was a very small child.
Yet knowing this, Christians actively seek out “Christian” things. If two business advertise, “Decks built by Christians” and “Decks built by atheists” guess which one the Christian will go to? Add a fish symbol in the corner of your yellow pages advertisement. That is enough to bring in Christians.
On Sunday, Christians would not trust another Christian with one dollar. On Monday, they will not go anywhere else! It is amusing to watch the distrust flow between various Christian groups, yet if one is going to buy a wrench, a Christian hardware store is the preferred place to do one’s shopping.
Why? We can see Christians cheat, steal, lie, divorce and embezzle just like everyone else. We can equally see Christians that work hard, are honest, and a hand shake is a promise. But simply putting “Christian” over the door does not guarantee which one we will get! Yet time and time again, we can see that having a “Christian owned and operated business” (like a local shop I know) telling Christians to come on in, everything is fine.
If Christian churches were not so filled with as many problems, fighting, and issues as any other human institution it would be one thing. But it IS filled with these problems. If you don’t trust them on Sunday, why would you trust them the other six days of the week?
I knew of a Deacon I would never, EVER let my daughter be alone with. ‘Nuff said. Yet people flock to “Christian” day-cares. Why? Because there is a reassurance in that name, “Christian.” It means that a person is safe. That only good, upstanding moral people would ever DARE operate a business with “Christian” in its name. The same people that the same Christians don’t trust on Sunday.
Do you really think that a Christian mechanic will tighten your nuts and bolts in a more Christ-like manner than a Pagan mechanic? If your child was being rushed into the hospital for an emergency, would you call ahead to make sure there is a Christian doctor with Christian nurses available? Using medicine that has solely been developed by Christians, of course.
Ulp—forgot. Medical research is partially dependant on the evolutionary theory. Perhaps the medicine is not so Christian after all.
We have Christian Songs, Christian Bands, Christian Books, Christian Movies, Christian Nations, Christian holidays, and now we are entering into Christian Businesses. Do people really believe that Jesus would have only gone to a Christian donkey-owner to ride the Triumphal Entry? Rented the Upper Room from a Christian Landlord? Bought his sandals from a Christian sandal-maker?
Look, go where you want. Listen and do what you desire. From what I observe, “God is my co-Pilot” on your car means I am just as likely to get the finger from you as anyone else.