It's Not Safe to Be a Christian

Because it's not supposed to be.

I'm not gonna lie: when I first heard about the shooting in Orlando last week, I immediately checked Franklin Graham's Facebook to see what heinous thing he had said in Jesus name this time. No joke, June 13, 2016 was the first time I have ever seen Franklin Graham show compassion for the gay community:

   

Ok, it's not the strongest display of support, but he did use the word "tragic" to describe their deaths, unlike some other pastors. But if you look closely, you'll see why. The only reason Franklin Graham offered any sympathy to the victims and families in Orlando is because the perpetrator was Muslim.

The only type of people that evangelicals hate more than gays are Muslims. Gay people just want to molest our children or turn them gay, but Muslims want to kill all of us. We can't protect our children if they're dead, so we'll have to get the gays later (I worked at a Christian radio station for a number of years--this is actually how evangelicals talk).

Of course, the radical jihadists behind the Boston Marathon and 9/11 aren't really Muslims, but that doesn't matter. They look like them, so that's all the evidence we need to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves. Because like good Americans, we all worship the god of security.

America is often accused of worshiping comfort, and to some degree that's true. We can afford to be because our location is relatively remote and our only neighbors are virtually harmless. However, as soon as our soil is touched, we revert back to our old self-preserving barbarism.

The truth is Americans are just as petty and paranoid as anyone else, and we'll doing anything to save our own skin. Even the Christians.

Sure, Jesus told us that we would suffer, but we assumed he meant persecution. And since that's not currently on the menu (save for those with a convenient victim complex), many Christians seem to think that Christ's promise must not apply to us.

It's bad enough that Christians have such a myopic view of suffering, but it's even worse that we think its something we opt-in to. That suffering is what those poor Christians have to deal with in North Korea, not those of us who aren't "called" to the dangerous areas.

We're quick to forget that the Christian life is one of sacrifice. Jesus told us to take up our crosses by loving others and living selflessly. So many of us tithe more than 10%, prioritize ministry over family, and call it a day--once again rationalizing our way out of accepting the meaning of Jesus' words.

Sacrifice is actually putting yourself at risk.

Take Orlando for example. Liberals are calling for gun control; conservatives are calling for concealed carry. Liberals want to regulate, and conservatives want to fight. They both think they're doing what's best for everyone but they're both really doing what's best for themselves. They're both pursuing their own safety.

But Jesus didn't support regulation, he fulfilled it (i.e. the law). And Jesus didn't fight, he healed the wounded (i.e. the earless priest). What he did do was sacrifice himself. He didn't try to put more rules in place to keep us from sinning or come down from heaven with an army to wipe us out. He died for us.

If you're a Christian, that's your calling. Jesus didn't say that there is no greater love than sacrifice for no reason. Death is the ultimate expression of love, and it's something we should be willing to do for anyone.

The odds that you'll ever be asked to suffer that much are pretty low in this country, so take heart. But you have plenty to sacrifice besides your life in the meantime. You get to sacrifice your ego, your dignity, even your reputation.

When you're falsely accused, accept the blame. When you're unfairly ridiculed, accept the scorn. When you're rudely ignored, accept the shame. As Christians, we must resist the impulse to protect ourselves and pursue our own physical and emotional safety.

Jesus taught that first will be last and the last will be first in his kingdom. If someone forces us to go somewhere we don't want to go, we go with them further. If someone steals from us, we give them more than they want to take. Self-defense couldn't be a more foreign concept to the Christian life.

We can't claim to be truly loving if our actions prioritize security over sacrifice. And we can't suffer as Jesus promised if we're too busy looking out for our own safety. Put yourself last and be what you were called to be: not a lover like the liberals want or a fighter like the conservatives want. But a sufferer.

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Photo credit: 柵欄與落日 via photopin (license)

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