It’s become so clichéd that it’s almost become a joke. Yet love is not always a word associated with Christians. Christians are more commonly associated with the many sins committed by “The Church”. As Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” So what is wrong with the Christian faith?
As a history student, I can tell you that Christians don’t have a very good track record. There are the crusaders, the guys from Europe who thought it would be a good idea to go and conquer the Holy land (the area around modern day Israel) for Christianity, managing to kill a lot of innocent people along the way. Pope Urban II launched the 1st crusade in 1095, declaring that, “God wills it!” There are the Inquisitions, where Christians persecuted and killed so-called ‘heretics’ in the middle ages, mainly in Spain. There was the Salem Witch Trial, in which 19 people were hanged for being witches, and the missionaries who destroyed many indigenous cultures to bring ‘civilization’ to the world.
I could go on. The history of Christianity has many dark spots in it.
However, it would be foolish to disregard Christianity as evil or wrong because of all this. We must remember the context in which these events took place. Christianity was generally not the only factor contributing to these events, as there was often also political motivation. Furthermore, history often forgets the Christian voices that spoke up against these crimes at the time. But most importantly, we must remind ourselves that not everything that was done by Christians in the past was necessarily done in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. Let’s stop and look at some of these teachings:
“Do not judge or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:10)
“Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31)
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27)
Love your enemies? Does that mean Hitler? Stalin? The Spice Girls? Do good
to those who hate you? Come on, he can’t be serious! And don’t judge others, or you will be judged. Hah? Christians don’t really believe that, do they? Look at the way they responded to the Civil Union bill or section 59.
If these are the teachings of Jesus, why do so few Christians seem to follow them? We can find some clues by looking at some of the heroes of the Old Testament of the Bible. Abraham, the father of the Jewish and Arab people, was praised for his faith, yet he once said that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he wouldn’t get killed. He also slept with Sarah’s servant in order to fulfil Gods promise that he would be the father of a nation. Some faith! Then there’s his nephew, Lot, the only “righteous” man in the city of Sodom, who got drunk and was seduced by his daughters. Abrahams grandson, Jacob, pretended to be his brother to get the inheritance, which was his brother’s by rights, and ends up with two wives and both their servants for concubines. And then there were the ten who sold their brother, Joseph, into slavery. Boy, did that family have problems. Yet it is these people that God chose to make his covenant with. These guys suck, and they are the heroes of the Bible!
So, what is God trying to tell us through all this? That He doesn’t care what people do? Well no. Basically, this means that humans screw up a lot, even the best of us. We do things which are not the best for ourselves, or for others. All we need to do is look around us or turn on the TV news to see what bad human choice can lead to. At this point some of you may be asking, “How could God let all this happen if He’s in control?” That would be a topic large enough for a whole article. But here I shall simply say this; God gave us free will to choose whether we will follow him or do our own thing. He lets us choose our own destiny. And he’s giving us tim to change. He doesn’t give up on us, hell no. He still loves us, and he still wants to have a relationship with us, like he did with Abraham, David, Moses.
This is one reason why we should love our enemies. Because they, like us, make mistakes, and God still loves them. When we look at Jesus’ life, we see that he lived a life that was consistent with the message he preached. He served the people around him who needed it the most: the sick and the sinners. These were the people that he knew needed God’s love the most. This upset the religious elites and a sect known as the Pharisees, who had a very strict moral code and said that being around these people made you ‘unclean’. Jesus replied by saying that they were living to impress people, not God and called them hypocrites. Naturally, these guys didn’t like him saying this much, and they managed to get him crucified on the cross. Later, his followers claimed that he had been raised from the dead and that, through his death and resurrection, people could be forgiven by God for all their stuff ups, which opens the door for us to have a relationship with God. They went on to spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire and then thoughout the world.
This brings us back to the crusaders and the other sins of the Christian church. The followers of the same Jesus, who was willing to demonstrate his love for us by dying for us, ended up killing people in hate. Sad, I know. But the point I guess I’m trying to make is this: don’t judge Christianity on the sins of the church, as not everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus truly is one, and those who are still make mistakes. Judge it on Jesus. Find out for yourselves what Jesus really said, don’t just take someone else’s word for it. Being a Christian is not about being perfect by living to a moral code. That’s impossible. Rather, Christianity can be summed up by saying this: we all suck, but God loves us anyway.