When Christians do bad but think they do good!
Oh wait, let me explain…
Last week I was in a school production of The Sound of Music. Although I am up to my waist in projects and new tasks at work, when the play’s director approached me about doing a couple parts in the annual musical I couldn’t refuse. The stage beckoned and (full confession) I am a total ham!
The two parts I performed were the church bishop who blesses Maria and Capt. Von Trapp’s wedding as well as the Nazi leader “Herr Zeller” who is the antagonist in the story.
I got to be “The Good Guy” & “The Bad Guy”
In fact the Nazi’s today are so singularly identified with evil today that I must admit to a pause and a moment of reflection before I slipped the iconic “swastika” armband on the first time,
At one point in the play I bless the Von Trapp marriage ceremony then quickly exit for a quick change only to storm into the next scene screaming and demanding to know why the Von Trapp’s still refuse to fly the flag of the Third Reich.
It was this dichotomy of good and evil in a single person that prompted the young student’s question, “Mr. Hackman, is it hard for you to be the good man and then suddenly become so bad and mean?” My first thought, even before I answered, was “I see a sermon and a blog post in this question.”
Unfortunately, it seems there has been a lot of Christians in the church who talk blessing and goodness one minute and then seem to run offstage for a moment only to reappear as a completely different character.
In effect, the bishop personified the Fruit (Attributes) of the Spirit of God:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
In contrast, the Nazi, “Herr Zeller” personified the mirror reflection of these “fruits”.
The Bishop was “loving”, Herr Zeller was “hateful”
The Bishop was “peace”, Herr Zeller was “discord”
The Bishop was “kind”, “Herr Zeller was “harsh”
The Bishop was “gentle”, Herr Zeller was “bombastic”
The Bishop was “patient”, Herr Zeller was “domineering”
Now, laying aside the notion that everyone has a bad day, what happens when the world begins to see Christianity and the church as a “Herr Zeller” and not “the bishop?” When it is Christians who are identified as being hateful, harsh, bombastic, and domineering?
Herr Zeller yelled and screamed when the Von Trapp’s refused to fly the Nazi Germany flag.
(American) Christians yell and scream when courthouses refuse to display the Ten Commandments.
In the words of Christ, “You strain a gnat (focus on the small and meaningless) and end up swallowing a camel (miss the big picture)“ You bully and domineer a situation to get what you want and lose all the souls of people who would respond to the Christlike fruit of gentleness and kindness.
Jesus never organized a protest rally!
The most disturbing trend I see is Christians acting like Herr Zeller and thinking they are “the bishop!” These are the Defenders of the Faith in an increasingly (perceived) “secular world”. Newsflash: Jesus doesn’t need defending. What Jesus needs is for people that claim to be his disciples to act like “the bishop” and not like “Herr Zeller”
To be gentle and kind rather than bombastic and harsh…
Finally the Nazi’s were also the masters of exclusion. They were “the pure” while “the others” were to be harassed, persecuted, and finally, killed. In contrast, Christians who personify the fruit of the Spirit are to be the master “includers”. Seeking to identify with and include people especially those who feel excluded! Jesus had all kinds of time for people on the fringes and the “edge of the night.”
Let’s face it, in many sectors of the church, we’ve lost some of our sparkle and shine. Following Jesus should be beautiful! People are beginning to see it…slowly 🙂
But old “Herr Zeller” habits can sometimes be a little hard to break…
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