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Monday, November 15, 2004

The Real Christians

Charles Colson: Who Are the Real Christians?. (Hat tip: Gusoceros)

As we sift through all the post-election commentary and finger-pointing, one thing emerges clearly: Religious beliefs are important to American voters—and, hence, to politicians.

Twenty-two percent said that “moral values” motivated their vote. I see a great national debate coming, as the politicians position themselves. We’ll be faced with questions like this: “Do you have to be pro-life and oppose gay ‘marriage’ to be Christian?” “How can you be a Christian without a plan to help the poor?”

During the campaign, for example, John Kerry argued from the book of James and said we ought to be doing more to help the poor and that his religious faith taught him to live that way. Well, I, of all people, surely applaud that. But, at the same time, that’s not a substitute for other issues like life. All values are not morally equivalent.

If you’re helping the poor, that’s wonderful, but if your concern for the poor isn’t grounded in the fact that the poor are created in the image of God and are every bit as precious as anybody else, then your concern for the poor is hollow. It’s a political thing; it’s like a preference. It won’t necessarily last.

There is a hierarchy of values, and respect for human life created in God’s image comes first. It’s the bedrock basis for all other convictions. Our pro-life, pro-family positions come from the created order. Of course, helping the poor is a biblical commandment, and we do it, but we do it because we believe in the created order and the imago Dei in every human. Why do we go into the prisons to take care of the most despised people in society? Why do we care about the AIDS victims in Africa or about religious persecution and human rights? It is because suffering humans are created in the image of God and have worth and dignity from conception to natural death.

It is inconceivable that somebody could say that he or she is a good Christian, but doesn’t believe that life is created in God’s image and is sacred and inviolate. To do so is to miss the whole point. We do good deeds because we are Christians, but our faith rests upon the truth—that God is, that He has created us in His image.

Watch out for the arguments that are coming. We are going to be cast as fundamentalist right-wing bigots who want to deny a woman control of her body and deny gays the right to marry. The “real” Christians, as the New York Times has already told us after the election, will be the ones taking care of the poor and helping pass big government programs while standing up for abortion and gay rights. Which Christians do you suppose the media will praise as the “real” Christians? Who will Hollywood say are the “real” Christians?

There is a debate already underway over the heart and soul of what it means to be a believer. In this campaign we even had some evangelical leaders saying that there are ten Christian issues, from life to the environment, suggesting that they are all equal. You and I need to be ready to answer that debate with more than words. The light we shine before the watching world must be thoroughly pro-human. That means, besides being pro-life and pro-family, we care for the poor, the orphan, the prisoner, and the hungry—not to please the New York Times, but to please our Father in heaven who made them in His image.

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