I think that almost of all us feel the same way about family. They can irritate you to the point of distraction at times. And because of this, you may complain about them, criticize them. And in a way, that’s okay. But… But if someone else says something critical about a member of my family—well, watch out. You don’t talk about my family. I can say what I want, because I am family. But you’re not family. So keep your opinions off my family!
I think you understand what I mean.
There is another similar kind of feeling that I have. I think most people feel like this too. You can say hurtful things about me, insult me, criticize me—and I will feel hurt, but I can put up with it. I will deal with it. But… But if you hurt my wife…. Well, as my mother used to say, “You’re cruisin’ for a bruisin.” Don’t say or do something that hurts my spouse. THAT makes me really mad. I can handle you hurting me. I can’t stand you hurting my wife. Or anyone else that I really love, for that matter. An offense to a loved one is much more deeply felt, and much more difficult to deal with. And, to be honest, much harder to forgive. Get the idea?
There is a reason that I am writing about these very natural and common feelings today. My intent is not to deal with family issues, interpersonal relationships or forgiveness—as important as these topics are. Rather, I am prompted to write out of my concern, frustration and even irritation and anger at a trend in our society. This trend is almost a popular sport among some people, especially on the internet and in social media. It consists of attacks on the Christian faith. These attacks are often mean-spirited, sometimes vicious, and usually greatly unfounded. Christianity is not only denigrated and maligned, it is blamed for a host of human wrongs. All sorts of social ills—wars, racism, sexism, classism, slavery, poverty—all are presented as the direct result of belief in religion in general, and Christianity in particular.
Of course some criticisms are justly given, and true. However, even when this is so, the fault lies not with our faith, but with our followers. Christianity is not to be blamed for the sins of Christians. (Or, as is often the case, so-called “Christians.” For example, we should not consider the actions of groups like the KKK or Aryan Nations to be work of Christians. These people are no more Christian than Attila the Hun or Osama bin Laden were Christians.) The faith of Christ teaches love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and justice. It is a religion of good deeds, kind words, and righteous living. When Christians fall short of living up to the standards established by our Savior, the fault lies with the frailty and fallibility of individuals, not the Savior or His teachings.
However, the condemnation leveled at Christians (and Christianity itself) often goes further, and deeper. The attacks are aimed at Jesus Christ Himself. Christianity is at fault because Jesus is at fault. Christ-bashing is the crudest and ugliest form of this vicious “sport.”
Let me give you an example. There is a photo that has been making the rounds of the internet lately. It shows two people holding up a banner which reads “If Mary had had an abortion we wouldn’t be in this mess.” Recently this photo has been used by bloggers and others on the internet talking about the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on January 21, 2017. However, the picture is actually older than that. I have found it on several websites that date to 2015. I don’t know what the original context was. It was probably some rally dealing with abortion, or women’s rights, or something similar.
For me, the actual event doesn’t matter. It is the message being promoted. What is implicit in this sign is that Christ and the church He founded are to be blamed for all our “mess.” The implication is plain—what a wonderful world it would be if Jesus had never been born. If only Mary had done the smart thing and aborted this unwanted baby.
It is interesting to consider people’s reactions to this photo. I have come across several websites where people talked about how funny it is. One man said it was hilarious, and had made him laugh out loud. Others did not express humor, but strongly agreed with the sentiment. For them the world would be better without the church, without Christianity… and without Christ. Now I could spend quite a bit of time here and soundly dismiss that assertion. Indeed, whole books have been written on the powerful positive influence that the teachings of Christ and the Christian faith have had on all of history, on the world’s civilizations. But for me, at least today, that is not the issue. For me the issue is much more personal.
You see, what people may not realize is that such an attack on Jesus hurts the hearts of Christian people. Or maybe they do know, and don’t care. I don’t know. But what I want to say to them is that, yes, it does hurt. It hurts very badly. This is what I want them to hear…
Please understand that Jesus is not only God, Lord, King and Redeemer to me. He is also the love of my heart. He is my elder Brother. He is my best and dearest friend. We have the same Father (God). We are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit. We are united in bonds of love and ties of affection. We are family.
When you talk about Jesus, you are talking about the One who loves me the most. Who loved me when I was unlovable. The One who has never done me any wrong, but only good. The One who forgives me when I fall, strengthens me when I am weak, helps me when I am in need. He is the One who is always there for me, encourages me, bears me up, carries me when I cannot carry on for myself. He is a friend who truly “sticks closer than a brother.” He is a brother who never rejects me, never abandons me, who is there for me when I don’t deserve any of His love and acceptance. He is the One who knows me better than I know myself, and still chooses to call me His friend and brother.
So when you talk about Jesus, you are talking about family. And that hurts.
You can talk about me. You can even talk about the church. I don’t like it. I may disagree with it. I often find it unfair and usually completely untrue. But I can handle it. But when you talk about HIM? That hurts in the depths of my heart.
I think this is why Christians sometimes react so strongly to things like that banner. They may even lash out and act in a way that a Christian should not. There is no excuse for this. Christians are supposed to follow the example of our Savior. But what is inexcusable can still be understood. And I do understand. If you attack my wife, I might not react in a very spiritually mature manner. I would have to resist my natural impulse to react with reciprocal force. You have hurt the one that I love the most on this earth. If you attack my Savior, you have attacked the One who means the most to me in all the universe. And I have to resist the urge to give in to my own natural instincts and attack reciprocally. Don’t mess with my family.
So understand what I am saying. We live in America. Freedom of speech is a natural God-given right, affirmed and enshrined in our Constitution. I truly believe you have the right to say and express yourself as you please. But, know this, when you put down and assault my Savior, my Friend, you have struck at the very core of my being.
You see, to me it’s personal!
Truth Builders is a ministry initiative of Advancing Native Missions. However, the content of this site is the personal opinion of Victor Morris, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions, views or conclusions of Advancing Native Missions, its leaders or staff