A gentle response to some Rosie O’Donnell replies…

Note to my tens of loyal readers…the iPod Devotional Series will resume tomorrow.

You never know which weblogs will resonate with readers. I posted my response to the Rosie O’Donnell flap last week and almost immediately began receiving responses…both posted on the website and via emails. Most were overwhelmingly kind and encouraging. A few not so much. Regular readers of these ramblings know that we have some house rules here at Bad Christian Central. No personal attacks. No rude or inflammatory posts. No CYBER SHOUTING. The discourse at this site will remain civil and graceful. Why? Because I am paying for the server. Buy your own site and you can do what you want. Visit mine and those are the groundrules.

Having said that, I am learning that negative responses are often food for thought and opportunities for clarification. That is why I am taking a rare detour to address a couple of less than complimentary responses. While I doubt the original posters will ever read this the opportunity to clarify is important. First up is Ed who took exception with my article about Rosie.

So who gets to decide who is a christian and who isn’t. Apparently you believe this is your job. Everyone is allowed to be a christian in your eyes until they do or say something you disagree with and then you decree that they are not or never were a christian. Convenient for you but not in any way related to the reality of the situation.

Let me make one thing very clear if I haven’t before. God decides who is a Christian and who isn’t. If you can find any example where I wrote that any particular person is not a Christian (who claims to be) I will correct it. Because I don’t know the hearts of other people and for me to attempt to figure out who is really a Christian and who is not is walking on theologically thin ice. But I do think it is Biblically appropriate to evaluate the actions of those who take the name of Christ to see if those actions are consistent with His teachings. I submit myself to this standard willingly. If you find that I am doing something that damages the name of Christ I want to be gracefully but firmly corrected. There are an untold number of Christians who have done something I have disagreed with and I am sure they are still in the faith. As I grow older I am more convinced than ever that we need to focus on who unites us (Jesus) instead of the myriad of issues that divide us.

Here is my argument on the blanket application of the title Christian. There are sects and cults that appropriate the name into activities that violate the law of the land and of God’s Word. If a criminal dons a police uniform and does evil in that uniform he is not a policeman. No one talks about how “policemen” are phony because of actions like this. His actions do not mean that other police officers are bad and, fortunately,  few see it that way. But when someone identified as a Christian does something evil it does seem to tarnish the entire faith to many who hear the news. That is my frustration when I write about the title Christian being used so casually.  I believe it is biblically appropriate to judge actions but not salvation.

Allow me also to respond to what I think my “job” is as a follower of Christ. It is a simple job description. To work out my salvation with fear and trembling, to love the Lord my God with all of my heart and my neighbor as myself, to go and make disciples in the name of the Lord, and to do no damage to the precious name of Jesus. My job performance is inconsistent but slowly improving.

Reader Lisa responded with a couple of interesting observations. She listed a number of people who have discredited the faith with their actions or by taking controversial and/or unbiblical stands.

These are the Christians who unfortunately are front and center.

That is true. Every person that is in Christian leadership or speaks for the faith is accountable to God for their actions and words. And so am I with my itty-bitty little circle of influence that my books and modest blog have generated. Some celebrity Christians are front and center in the media but the reality is that I am front and center in my world. And you, Lisa, are front and center in your world. I can make a difference to those around me. You can do the same. I can love and serve those I come in contact with in the love of Jesus. And so can you. My experience is that when I love people and care and show them Jesus they don’t really care what TV Preacher Foghorn Blowhard said last week. I am accountable for me and I will answer for me on the judgment day. And you will answer for you. Period.

Minus some of the sanctimony in your blog, I wish you would gain a bigger stage. Then maybe us Christians can affect real change that is more consistent with teachings of Christ.

Okay Lisa, I am throwing a flag on that one for unfair use of terms. Dictionary.com defines sanctimony as pretended, affected, or hypocritical religious devotion, righteousness, etc. And frankly, you do not know me well enough to call my words pretended or hypocritical. If that description came from my wife, sons, workmates, or friends I will hit my knees in repentance. With all grace filled respect, you don’t have that knowledge. So…do you still want me to have a bigger stage?

Unfortunately, so-called “Christians” who espouse your views have little to no voice regarding public discourse, nor much power to affect public policy.

Here is the most thought provoking statement of all from Lisa. She is spot on right that I have little to no voice regarding public discourse, nor much power to affect public policy. But does that really matter? Is God looking for people of great influence or people of great obedience? Does He change history through the powerful or the prayerful? Would it make a greater difference to have a Christian legislature and court system or Christians truly living by His teachings?

God could have chosen a “Damascus Road” experience for the powerful politicians of Rome to jumpstart the early church. That would have been my strategy. God could have spoken directory to the influential philosophers and teachers of the era to get out His plan. That would have been my phase 2 marketing approach. But He chose to use the sold out lives of regular people. His plan remains the same. And whether you call it sanctimonious or not, I want to be a part of that plan.