It always saddens me when a public figure denounces Christianity. Apparently this week we received another blow from author, Anne Rice. Her comments were something like this: she would remain a follower of Christ, but could no longer tolerate the bickerings of Christians and the intolerance of Christianity.
I experienced a glimmer of understanding with her opinion. I have been involved in churches all my life. And often times Christians don't act like Christ. There is power struggle, arguments over doctrine, exclusivity, and lack of commitment within churches. There are valid reasons why we have terms like "pew warmers", "back-sliders", and "back-row baptists". These are reasons why we see church splits. It is a sad testimony that we show the world sometimes.
Ms. Rice also gave a list of several different "I will not be anti-______" statements. Some of those confused me, because I would not consider myself or the fellow Christians I know to be "anti-____." But unfortunately, I have also heard Christians make statements such as, "In order to be a good Christian, you have to be Republican." I agree with Ms. Rice on that point...I don't know anywhere in the Bible where Jesus proclaimed a preference for any political party.
However, that is where my understanding of and agreement with Ms. Rice's views end. In order to be a follower of Christ, we must follow his teachings. We get those teachings from scripture. The Bible is his word, and there are some teachings that are not politically correct or socially acceptable in today's world. I do not apologize for that. I would not presume to change those teachings to meet with the approval of the world. I am not God.
It is unfortunate to me that sometimes the very people who loudly and publicly proclaim the cause of Christ do so in a manner that send people running screaming in the opposite direction. Jesus gave us two great commandments, according to the scripture. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and will all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matt. 22:37-39. He also gave us standards by which to live. Read the Matthew chapters 5-8 for starters. These standards are difficult and even impossible for us to live up to on our own. That is why he gives us the Holy Spirit--his strength and power. That is also why he is the God of forgiveness and grace. It is shameful when Christians do not balance the teaching of Christ's standards with his greatest commands, which are to "love".
One more point I would make in reference to Mr. Rice's opinion. As Christians we mess up...all the time. Those who proclaim not to are lying. But Paul teaches that we, the church, are the body of Christ. We cannot exist outside of that body. We are called to a community, a fellowship...to continue to share the gospel of Good News together. To be a true follower of Christ, one must follow all of his teachings, which includes coming together with other believers. Like it or not, we are a family.