On What Issues Will American Christians Be Judged?

Nov 29, 2004

Here is (on p 2 of this post) the full text version is of a sermon I preached twice, as a guest speaker, on Nov 21 in Curtis NE. Here on p1 are excerpts. P3 has some of the earliest comments that were made.

… [from Jesus we learn that] It’s not always out of line to criticize religious people, institutions, or practices. And that’s what I’m going to do here today … I know Christians – literally – who are more offended if you criticize the Republican party than if you criticize St Paul, the Prophets, or even Jesus Himself ….

Friday’s New York Times quoted a mother from Tennessee, which once had a widely admired health security system, but whose system is now on the ropes. The mother said, referring to her 12-year old daughter, “Why, in a country this wealthy, must parents choose to watch their children die?” Why indeed? ….

A man I know in this state has owned two fast food stores for a few years, and will soon retire in his mid-forties with a million dollars in the bank. But the people who work in those stores get few or no benefits, and will soon do without hope of overtime pay. How do you raise kids on $7 or $8 / hour? How do you retire on $8 or $9 an hour? I don’t know just what, but something very inappropriate is going on here.

Does Jesus care? Do non-believers around us SEE that Jesus cares? I know all the economic and philosophical arguments. But I also know that Jesus said, “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment.”…

Today our troops are being misused even more dishonestly, and in ways that are even harder on their families [than in Viet Nam], and are then being recalled to duty after they return home – or if disabled, they come back to find veterans medical resources being cut. AND, as back then, the government is telling us about the wonderful things we’re doing over there, how we’re bringing democracy and crippling the insurgency (an insurgency that did not even exist a year ago), and how the Iraqis are on the verge of taking over all the hard stuff.

But worst of all they – and our powerful technologies – are again being used to kill dozens of thousands of innocent civilians …. Again I support our troops by asking our government to get honest … Surely that is an appropriate Christian approach to the powers that be ….

I don’t like talking about these things. I never have spoken about such issues from the pulpit in all my fifty-nine years – but I think I should have. What do I want from this? I want two things. I want us to realize there are very genuine, very thoughtful Christians, some of the best Christians in this country, who disagree with us about some of these things, whatever our position. To be a Christian does not automatically mean one is a Republican (or a Democrat). And I want us to realize that in many ways the churches truly are presenting a very bad face to the world around us. We do have to talk about that….

(See the whole sermon on p2.)

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  • Thanks for the feedback Connie and “Mike.” My parents are very legalistic about church attendance. They made me attend church when I was a kid. I explained to them my reasons for missing church and my dad told me to “tell it to the devil when I get down there.” I love my family but they’re very narrow-minded about these things. I’m praying that I’ll find a church that’s real and understands the basic tenets of the Gospels. Mike made a good point in his post. Does God and Christ live only in a building or are they everywhere?

  • above, when I said’who were about as religous as the devils brother, I spoke of some other students, this nun taught, along with myself/my
    old classmates, whom form the time they hit 8th grade, until as late as Now, just attend church to be seen , they were 2-faced!
    pray in public, curse you in private).

  • hi,HBK!
    i struggle every second I breathe to try to keep on the righteous path, but sometimes that path has
    rocks in the way, and I stumble.

    As for church, I used to go to Catholic church, and to be honest…I spoke with a nun
    who taught me in the 2nd grade years ago, recently(who were about as religious as the devil’s
    brother). she goes on and on about how these people never miss church.
    I can not say how these people are today, but some of them were a “trip”.
    Smug, arrogant, negative towards others, then go to church, and “put on a performance worhty of an Oscar”, IMHO.

    Also went to Baptist church in late 70’s, same deal. In church, I met veyr nice people. after a month or two of knowing them,
    the real them showed up.

    I pray to God and Christ at home, read the Bible at home, etc.

    I could go on, but won’t.

    YYou must decide what is appropriate for yourself, HBK.

    Does God/Christ live only in a church, or is he/they everywhere?

    In the Bible, I recall soemthing aloing this line being said, i think:
    ” Do not pray like the heretics, in public palces, for all to see their “good deeds” and get praise, but
    go to your secret place, adn pray to your favorite, alone”(soemthing along this line of thinking).

    Sounded like some people who praye dinpublic did it for show of their fellow human beings,not for salvation!?

    Anyone care to clarify this?

  • Hi HBK,

    You seem to be very smart and a good writer. I don’t think you want to miss church and it is sad that church is missing out on you and your gifts. It’s hard to find a church that has room for dicussion and evaluation of the motivating factors behind the church’s existence.

    I grew up in Los Angeles, and it seemed that church people didn’t help people in need simply because the gift was often abused. I often gave my lunch money to people living on the street and was quite puzzled about it all.

    But I really believe that if there is a body of believers that is sensitive to the spirit of Christ, they will give and nurture and listen and help in any way they can… using wisdom. In other words, that church in Columbus should have helped your immediate need, and also tended you in other ways – such as getting on your feet financially.

    Keep working on this and looking and talking and writing.

    God Bless You!

  • I’m a Christian and I’m frequently told by my family that it’s a sin to miss church. I haven’t been to church in four months because to put it bluntly, I’m tired of the hypocrisy I see. It seems to me that more and more churches are becoming like the world around them. I went to a Brethren church (not all of them are bad by the way) two years ago that seemed more like a religious social club than the house of God. I also attended similar churches in Columbus, OH. They (the Brethren church) even kicked out a pastor friend of mine for trying to shift their focus from religious tradition to Jesus Christ. He started his own home-church ministry, and the same Brethren church accused him of starting a CULT!!! A friend of mine pointed out a big church to me when we were driving through Orlando, FL last year. HE also pointed out another big church right across the street. The two churches were originally one church. What happened was the pastor and assistant pastor had a disagreement over scripture and the assistant pastor left and built his own church right across the street and took half the pastor’s congregation with him. I actually had a church in Columbus that turned me away when I needed their help. The man told me he didn’t like young single guys like me coming to him for help and his accountant went home for the day so he couldn’t help me anyway. Did Jesus ever turn anyone away? I could understand if I made a habit out of leeching from the church. I know people who have done that and I’m not that way. Needless to say, I left that church. What am I to do? I dislike my parent’s church because they also turned me away when I needed their help and I was living on the street. My aunt’s church seems to be “Jesus-only.” Not only do I not know which church in my area is right for me, I can also say that church in general has left a bad taste in my mouth. I understand not to “forsake the assembling of yourselves together,” but does that verse really mean missing church is a sin? Do I not have legitimate reasons for not desiring to attend church? As the poster above duly noted, “I haven’t left the church. The church has left me.” Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.