Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Moving Beyond the Caricature: An Examined Life

Posted by Edwina Hine

Last week through my blog post I pondered a suitable response to an article on  Facebook  (post dated February 22). Its funny how the post generated different questions for different people. Whilst I was coming from the how should I respond? angle, for some readers the problem of evil was at the forefront.

There has been very rigorous discussion on the sovereignty and character of God. I must say I have been stimulated reading the thought provoking comments that have stemmed from the post. However as I revisit the post and the original poster, I have to admit I was not sure the poster was speaking to the supposed failings of God, or a malevolence in his character. Looking at the original poster I wish I could emphatically respond "Not True!!! Christians are not that petty", but I realised that the poster was probably holding up a mirror for us Christians. That the poster is speaking directly about us as Bill suggested in the first comment.

While I accept that the poster is in many ways a caricature of us at our most selfish, most thinking Christians would not consciously behave like this. The poster, I think should provoke us to examine our own lives. When I first blogged on the topic I drew attention to Case #20. “To Give a Reason” and highlighted David Höhne's article. Interestingly I did so to work out how best to respond … mostly verbally, to the original post on the atheist website. Upon reading the articles in Case #20 a couple of times now, it has been impressed upon me that there are times that rational debate will not always cut it, that

"...we are to demonstrate ‘a beautiful way of life’ that commends God to others.”

The poster that sparked my blog post reminds us that Christians don’t always do this very well. I could just fob it off and think …. “well at least I don’t pray for silly things like finding keys or winning sporting matches….” However, if I left it at that I would be missing the point, the poster could just as easily juxtapose images of me actively participating in church activities, but also losing my temper at friends, or spending my money frivolously. Consistency in my faith and actions therefore is as apologetic as any conversation I can have. My recent reading of Titus Chapter 2 instructs women and men in their turn, to be self-controlled, pure, and trustworthy so that

1) No-one will malign the word of God.

2) Those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.


3) To show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

But why should the poster in question motivate Christians to examine their behaviour more closely than any other community? Hypocrisy is disliked in all quarters, so why be so concerned when it involves us? We would do well do remember what Christians are, not only what they are called to do. Col 3:8-10 could be helpful here, it begins with how we should act
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other…..”
 And concludes with who we are now
“since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

We are new creations, in the image of our Lord. Perhaps we need to examine ourselves more carefully as we may forget when we call ourselves Christians we bear the name of Christ. The term "Christian" was  first recorded by Luke in Acts 11 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch”. Peter reminds the church repeatedly to not be ashamed of bearing Christ's name – rather it shows their allegiance to him. But if we are to bear the name Christian, we need to do so understanding all its implications – we are under the Lordship of Christ. We cannot be Christian in name only!

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