Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Christian dismissiveness

The Lord told us the story of the good Samaritan. St Paul told Christians to bear each other's burdens. (Yes, he also told people to bear their own burdens, but just in case...he also told others to help the weak brother.) Paul told us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.

But modern Christian types -- such as Joyce Meyer tells us to get over it. They use insulting words such as "pity party." Of course, Joyce Meyer would probably say she is telling the complaining Christian to tell herself to get over it, that she isn't telling Christians to dismiss other folks' pains. Yeah, right...like that'll work. Human nature is such that whenever most folks hear a sermon, they listen to it thinking of the OTHER person (not themselves.)

American Christianity is probably the only religion I can think of where a person can shield her heart against someone else's sorrow and tell that sorrowing person "Get over it, you're having a pity party" and yet that person feels very holy about being so dismissive about someone else's pain.

I understand that the words we speak can curse us. A person who has fallen into self-pity because of overwhelming fear, bad health, poverty, bad stuff happening....can make matters worse by affirming the pathological truth. In complaining, they are allowing the devil to use their own words to curse their lives. So yes, self-pity should be watched. But there are ways for the overwhelmed grieving person to get around that. And there are ways for the kind-hearted loving person to be an "ear" and yet to warn the grieving one about not affirming the pathological truth. They can say, "Oh my! It does look as if you're suffering badly. Life can be so hard. NEVERTHELESS, you must try to trust. This situation may seem impossible but our God is good, and He has not forgotten you. Don't say you have no hope or things won't get better. Don't let the devil make you make negative prophecies about yourself!"  Something like that.

It amazes me that Christians are unaware of the dangers of wronging a friend. The Bible speaks continuously about forgiveness, and it speaks also about "if you have wronged a friend, go and win him back." Yet, dismissing the pain of a fellow Christian is probably one of the chief causes of broken fellowship. And American Christians are more concerned  with how they are to forgive (because they care about their own feelings) than in how are they to be forgiven and to win back their brother in Christ.

How has American Christianity gotten to this pass?

True, Christians have been trained forever to listen to what their preachers say and not to what the Bible says. For instance, Jesus says not to pray hypocritically. Prayers in churches are often pretty obnoxious, nothing like prayer at all. But they are accepted and commonplace. Jesus tells us not to call anyone "father" yet we call Episcopalian and Roman Catholic priests "father." A direct disobedient to God's command. St James (Jacob, the brother of our Lord) tells us that if we don't know how to bridle our tongue, our religion is vain. Yet, Christians with cruel mouths who "speak the truth in love" abound. (They don't seem to realize that "speaking the truth in love is about speaking about some big doctrine, not speaking to some person about some pet peeve one might have against them.)

How confused Christians are! How deceitful deception can be!  

But that the basic commandment that we love each other

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