The words on the by-line were “Christian FAIL”.
I use two phone apps to read the news: Google Newstand and Flipboard, which are free newspaper, magazine and website article readers. Earlier this week a Flipboard article with that by-line caught my eye. “Christian FAIL.” I knew what it was going to be about. Something about how Christians were being hypocritical or ridiculous.
Sure enough. The brief description said this: “A Missouri pastor is accused of stealing more than $21,000 from his church to pay off his 20-year-old mistress.”
Then there was this by a blogger: “A friend she spent years of her childhood in a cancer ward, and recalled her friends dying on a regular basis. She said ‘Christians would come in and read us books about Jesus, and say he was going to heal us. You learned real quick that they were just there to make themselves feel good. Kids still got rolled out of the room in the middle of the night, and you knew they’d never come back’.”
For situations like this and others, there is an impression some in our society have of Christians, and Evangelicals in particular, that we are not loving and have not followed the teaching of Jesus.
Christians are doing a lot of good, and there are many who strive hard to follow Jesus. But as we read about the Christian Fails, a healthy response is to ask ourselves if we are perpetuating the impression that Christians are not loving, not following the teaching of Jesus. No one is perfect, and we Christians need to humbly admit when we fail. Because we do fail. And when we confess, we need to renew our commitment to the way of Jesus, and actually do what he teaches.
This Sunday at Faith Church we come to what is arguably the most famous teaching of Jesus: Luke 10:25-37, the parable commonly known as the Good Samaritan.
How many of you could tell me how the story goes without clicking on the passage and reading it? I suspect lots of you know at least the basics. We hear about Good Samaritans in the news regularly. That’s a good thing, because Good Samaritans are people who help others.
The danger with something familiar, though, is that we will check out and not listen. And in this case, if we do not listen, we could be in danger of many more Christian Fails. And yet, if we do listen as we should to Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, we’re going to hear him challenge our thinking. So I ask you to do some hard work and read this story as if for the first time.
There is a reason we Christians have gained a reputation for not being loving or not following the teaching of Jesus. And maybe part of the problem is that we have checked this parable off the list, because we know it so well, we just assume we’re doing fine. But maybe we’re not doing fine. Maybe we can be encouraged to think about The Good Samaritan in a new, different or deeper way. We’ll see how the Good Samaritan encourages us to move from Christian “fail” to Christian “faith”.
So we would love to have you join us at Faith Church this Sunday to hear more!