For the Bride: Contaminated Witness

We cannot look at the debilitating factors in the Church without admitting that they have now spilled over our cloistered walls and contaminated our witness in the world.  The cyber world in concert with news media and social media pounce on every story that puts religion in a negative light.

Forgetting that masses of people do not speak our language, and forgetting that what we espouse is often foreign to them, all they have to form their impressions on is our attitudes, emotions, expressions and exchanges.  It is like watching two people having a conversation in a language we do not understand.  We can only tell what’s going on by looking at their faces, watching their gestures, and paying attention to their volume level.

When we look at the Christian conversations that go viral today, Christianity often doesn’t fare very well.  Our faces, volume levels, entonations, etc. leave the impression that we are angry people who are little other than mad at each other.  And when a video, article, or other exchange is particularly caustic, we leave the impression that we are mean people, who say and do mean things, and can justify it to ourselves because we are speaking and acting “in Jesus’ name.”

When Jesus wondered out loud if he would find faith on the earth when he returned (Luke 18:8), I thought he meant that evil would increase to such an extent that it would extinguish faith.  And that may well be. 

But lately, I have added another thought to my mind about his words.  I wonder if he might have meant that faith would be so misrepresented by those of us who allege to have it, people would not touch it with a ten-foot pole.

But whatever Jesus meant, we can never abide the notion that faith may diminish as time goes by.  And to whatever extent we contribute to this  through our contaminated witness, all we can say is, “Lord, have mercy!  Christ, have mercy!”

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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