Must God tailor his justice to your demands? (Job 34:33)
Relate: TS Elliot writes:
Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her laws?
She tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget.
She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they would like to be soft.
She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts.
About a decade back David Kinniman wrote a book called Unchristian. In the book he lists six reasons why those in their 20s and 30s do not like the Church. They believe it, and Christians are:
2. Too focused on getting converts
5. Too political
A few years later Jefferson Bethke upped the ante with a youtube video that went viral titled “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus”. While part of me did resonate with what he was trying to say, another part of me was thinking, “He obviously has no idea what religion really is.” The fact that this video has had over 33 million views and more than half a million likes says that it obviously resonates with a huge number of people. It taps into a trend that has been growing over the past couple decades to “love Jesus” and hate “the church”. Unfortunately, this trend seems to be growing among both those inside and outside the church. It also, while having some basis in true issues that need to be dealt with (which was largely the aim of Kinniman’s book), also has much more basis in perceptions completely unattatched to reality. In one extreme example I heard just yeasterday, someone was trying to say how before abortion became legal (in the 40s 50s and 60s) ninety percent of all children were being born out of wedlock. Even worse, “the church” was kicking these unwed mothers out of their fellowship, forcing families to kick them out of their homes, and making the these mothers give up their children where they were being shipped off to other countries for adoption.
React: I almost feel like the global subconscious has created a “good cop/bad cop” mentality towards everything associated with Christianity. Those parts we like, well they represent Jesus. He is loving and kind and good and gentle. He is also tolerant, accepting of all races and lifestyles, a great teacher whose followers unfortunately turned into a religious figurehead… you get the picture. On the flip side “the church” or “religion” is stuffy, rigid, racist, bigoted against women, judgmental, etc. Basically, the modern world both within and outside the church have “tailored God to meet our demands”.
1. Yes, Christians should not be hypocritical. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold ourselves and our culture up to standards that might seem out of our reach. We should pursue excellence in humility.
2. No, we shouldn’t interact with others solely that we might have another notch in our “converts made” belt. But on the other hand, each convert made is another soul snatched from hell. To not be focused on this while claiming to love others is the height of hypocrisy.
3. Yes, homosexuality is a sin. So is lying and theft and pornography and pride and… We shouldn’t obsess over one sin, but neither should we embrace or even ignore it.
4. No, we should not live in sheltered Christian bubbles completely unaware of what is happening in the world around us. But we are called to be “set apart”. When the world looks at us, they should be able to easily see that we are different.
5. Yes, we are too political. Unfortunately, the Church in the west seems to have lost its prophetic voice because we have allowed political party association and nationalism masquerade as Christianity. Some do this on the left, others on the right. Each side has picked and chosen what parts of scripture they will focus on and which they will downplay. They have tailored God’s justice to meet their demands.
6. Yes, many times Christians are too judgmental. We are also many times too tolerant. I have been guilty of both. Jesus and Peter and Paul have all commanded others to “judge for themselves” what is right.
We need to be aware of and sensitive to the criticism others might have of us and do our best to not feed into those stereotypes. But on the flip side, it isn’t the world, or pop culture, a political party, or even our own conscience that determines what is right and wrong. The justice of God cannot be tailored to conform what we or our world might believe is good. Rather it is our views of what we might think is good that need to be tailored to conform to what God, in His wisdom far greater than ours, has said is good and right and just.
Your ways are so much greater than mine. Your ways are so much greater than the ways of this world. It is so easy to allow the way this world thinks shape how I view or follow Your commands rather than allowing Your commands shape how I live and act and think in this world. Forgive me for that. Keep me from the blasphemy that is trying to tailor Your justice to suit my demands.