The answer to the question “What is a Christian?” will vary greatly depending on who you ask. To some, it means you believe in Jesus or the religion that is based on Jesus’ teachings. Others use the word “Christian” to speak of a deep personal relationship between Jesus Christ and themselves.
For me, the best answer I have ever heard to the question “What is a Christian?” is someone who acts “Christ like”. Using that answer to solve the riddle, a Christian would be a person who patterns their behavior, activity, and speech like Jesus Christ. I guess in today’s world we need to ask ourselves which “Jesus” they are patterning themselves after?
My wife and I have started attending a non-denominational mission church for the homeless in our community. I have written on several occasions about the wonderful church I have been involved with for over thirty years and the great work we do for our city. But over the last couple of years as I sat in the pews of this mainline though liberal church looking at all of the affluent white faces with a parking lot full of new shiny automobiles I have felt like something was missing.
What I discovered was missing was the rest of the world, the real world. The part of society many of us don’t acknowledge and hide from ourselves.
Sunday a homeless man slept in our pew beside my wife during the service. When it came time for the offering the man in front of me reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumbled dollar bill and thirty-seven cents which he counted again and again as if the amount would change before the offering plate made its way to him.
All of the sensories that make my home church a sterile environment are under attack at this mission church. The sights, the sounds and the smells are unsanitized. There is a tension, a grittiness, a feeling of lost hope and desperation that fills the sanctuary. For many who filled the pews this past Sunday it was an opportunity to get out of the elements if only for a few hours and receive a warm meal. They aren’t worried about Donald Trump, or healthcare, or tax cuts. They don’t care if someone says “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” to them. They can’t imagine the kind of opulent wealth our President touts and displays as a sign of his superiority. They aren’t “of the world” they are in it, and hanging on by their fingernails.
I believe the Evangelical Christian world has lost its way believing in and using Donald Trump to light their path. Their view of how the world “should be” goose steps with the world Jesus encountered. They have forgotten that Jesus bucked the status quo, of which they have now become. But none of us would ever be able to convince any of them that they aren’t on the path to “Glory”. Their view of the world is singular, a narrow tunnel with a dim light at the end. They think they know the source of the light but in reality all they have to go on is an uneducated guess.
As I watched the man with the crumbled dollar bill and thirty-seven cents I wondered what he thought he was buying for his money. Maybe a little time on a very hard pew in the air-conditioned sanctuary. I suspect, given the condition of the bill it was all the money he had. But no worries “our” President is responsible for the U.S. gaining “more than 5.2 trillion dollars in Stock Market Value since Election Day!” as the Evangelicals cheer him, on their quest to be recognized as the only true believers and protectors of the gospel.
What does grace and salvation cost? About one dollar bill and thirty-seven cents.