If you ask me what I am, I will always say first and foremost, “I am a Christian.” Within a few minutes, you will learn I am a proud American of Southern heritage and a Catholic convert. You’ll also find that I am a bit of a social liberal, but a fiscal conservative. I’m educated and think for myself….But I am first and foremost: I am a Christian.
Yes, I was reared in a Christian home. I come from generations of Christians, with many Jewish ancestors. I gave my heart to Jesus Christ when I was a girl; He saw me fall away, come back, and fall away again. But the thing about my Savior is He was always there. When I cried in the dark, He held me. When I was lost, He brought me home. When I sinned so horribly, He forgave me. In time, He helped me forgive myself.
Tonight, I watched an actress named Deven Green poke fun at Christians with a fictional character named “Betty Bowers” and my mouth dropped open. Maybe it is because I came from the Bible Belt of the South, or maybe it was my Uncle (the Governor) John Winthrop, or maybe it was common ingrained decency and respect for my faith, but my mouth dropped open.
I got mad.
Then, I stormed into my office and opened my Bible and read a passage He wanted me to read. Since I write Christian fiction, my King James is always open – and there it was:
Luke 6:28: “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you.”
I crossed myself and prayed for the anger to go away. It did – an hour later. By then, I asked why someone would feel the need to make it open season to mock Christians?
Or did we do it to ourselves?
The answers can be very simple.
1. Someone was exposed to Christianity in the wrong way – the wrong light – by wrong people – in the wrong situation.
2. Someone had something bad happen and they blamed God. Sounds pretty simple, but it is. Been there, done that, and got the tee-shirt. Praise God, the tee-shirt was a bad fit!
3. The mass media portrays Christians in a poor light: that we are intolerant, wrong, selfish, greedy (yes, you read that correctly), and very judging. I like to remind people that Jesus Christ hung out with the simplest people on earth, as well as prostitutes, liars, thieves, and doubters. Church should be a place for all sinners to hang out at; not saints. I love a recent church sign that read, “We are all sinners. See you on Sunday!”
4. They never read the Bible. I once had a woman in my library argue with me that Catholics weren’t allowed to read the Bible. I cackled, opened up my Bible, and began to read to her. Blew her mind.
5. The Bible didn’t make sense to them. My own husband, who is a college educated engineer, is very lost with the King James Version. Although I am a Catholic convert, I only read that version – due to my theology training at Mercer and my upbringing as a Methodist. He needed a modern version that “spoke English.”
6. Not being exposed as a child: I will get some flack for that statement, but if a child is reared NOT in a family with Christ, with a parent or parents that role-model the example, chances are they will find Christ on their own. Sometimes, finding Him will be at a low point in their life. I praise God daily I had a father and mother who were and are Christians – but Christianity isn’t by osmosis…It is a gift you receive when you ask Christ into your heart. You don’t inherit salvation; but you can see it role-modeled. Many people need to learn that – I know I did!
7. Posting self-righteous things on social media – oh, wow. Been there, done that, got that tee-shirt.
8. Judging someone….when I had no right…and it got noticed. For that, I am sorry. And only He is perfect. But no matter what: I was wrong at times and I’m sorry.
9. Taking prayer out of school didn’t help – it’s true, sorry folks.
10. Allowing too much division in the Church instead of ecumenical brotherhood and sisterhood. In my South, blacks still worship at black churches and whites at white churches. The only ones I can say 100% are integrated are Catholic, Jehovah Witness (hold opinion there – I’m saying desegregated congregations), Mormon, and some evangelical groups. Also, there is still rampant prejudice against Catholics. When I became good friends with a Mormon, we would just sit back and laugh at how many times we heard silence when we told people what church we attended.
So, in closing, remember one simple thing about Christians, of any Church or denomination: they are not perfect….They are just forgiven! And, “Mrs. Betty Bowers,” may you find Him someday. Because He’s there…Waiting for you. The catch is: Why aren’t you wanting Him?