I’m reading a book right now called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. I’ll have more to say about it later, but as I read this book by pastor David Platt, I find myself being inexplicably angry. Very angry. So angry that my hands clench into fists and my face turns into a frown. I can’t control this anger and I’m trying to understand it, but all my brain can come up with is, “I am so damn angry at Christians.”
Why am I so angry with Christians? What is it that has me so frustrated and irate? Sure, I’m reading a book by a pastor. That isn’t a guaranteed way to turn me into the Hulk. It has nothing to do with me being the righteous anger version of the Hulk. I’m actually always angry with Christians. And I’m starting to figure out why.
It starts out with many Christians (I will not say all, though I fear it’s most) who refuse to help others. I’m not talking about homeless people on the street or donating to the Red Cross after the latest tragedy in some third world country. I’m talking simple things that they don’t even see as helping others.
A lot of taxes goes to help other people. Government programs for education, healthcare and foreign aid all help people who are in trouble. Sometimes a lot of trouble. I’m not saying everything the government does with tax money is right and good, but I am saying that people who begrudge their taxes are contributing to the shortfall that will affect needy people. What are the first programs cut? Assistance programs. Why are they cut? Because people don’t want to pay taxes.
I have yet to see any Christian make the connection between taxes and helping the poor. If anything, I hear a lot about how the poor are poor because they don’t work hard enough and are lazy and deserve to be where they are. Growing up I heard a lot about how some homeless people wanted to be homeless and that was an excuse not to help them. All I hear are rationalizations for reasons not to help people.
“God helps those who help themselves” is the biggest bit of crock I’ve ever heard. All it is is an excuse not to do exactly what Christ told Christians to do. I am not surprised that this bit of wisdom came from one of America’s “Founding Fathers.” American history is rife with the causes of the modern Gospel, and this is just one instance of that. Christ didn’t help people because they were helping themselves first. He was helping the people who could do nothing else for themselves and needed help from others. He didn’t say to people, “Yeah, I’ll help you as soon as you jump through these hoops.” He helped them and didn’t ask anything in return.
Christians are literally so un-Christlike that I cannot stomach them. And I’m angry because they should know better! Supposedly they have the only “way, truth and the life” that there is. They delight in telling people that only their way is the way to heaven and that everyone else is wrong. Their hypocrisy makes me angry.
The start of this Radical book tells a story of Platt visiting with Christians in Asia. Like many stories of modern Christian heroism, these Christians are persecuted. It is illegal for them to be Christians where they live. And Platt sits there and listens to them pray and admires them and then uses them as an example to chastise the American Christians reading his book for not being more like them.
But those Christians have nothing in common with American Christians. Those Christians pray, “Jesus, we give our lives to you and for you.” Americans can’t even say they’ll give their taxes to the least of these their brethren. Americans are camels trying to go through the eye of the needle. Remember when Jesus talked about that?
American Christians have no care for anyone but themselves. They may say they care, but they don’t. Their actions belie their pious words. They do more harm than good in the world.
I have met a few real Christians and some of them may even read this post. But they are the minority. They are the people who don’t want me to use their names because they don’t want recognition or fame. They are the people who do not begrudge their time, money, effort or health in order to help other people. Not preach at people, but help them with things like medicine, food, shelter, clothing and education. They’re not famous, political and they’re not trying to sell books with catchy titles. I wish there were more people like them in the world and less people like David Platt with his megachurch, his stories and his books.