Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Empire Builders vs the Love of Christ

Can you imagine giving the eulogy at a funeral and starting out by saying “before I tell you about God’s grace, let me make it clear that little Johnny deserved to die because he stole candy from a store”?

My old friend Izzy is always posting some great links to stuff he finds on the web. Today, he pointed out Donald Miller's response to some ridiculous things that Pat Robertson recently said. The short version is this: With the death toll into the tens of thousands after the earthquake in Haiti, Pat Robertson managed to say that Haiti was "cursed" after an old "pact with the devil."

Sadly, a number of people might be under the impression that talking heads like Pat Robertson represent the feelings of most Christians (or even the feelings of most conservatives). Most Christians, however, think the idea is absurd that their feelings might be represented by people like Pat Robertson.

One problem with our 24/7 media-and-Internet driven society is that to stand out as a "leader" (or megapastor or author or CNN talking head), you've got to occasionally say some ridiculous things just to get in the headlines. Everything has to be extreme in one direction. Like, for instance, blaming the devastation in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina on the debauchery that took place in that town.

From Miller's blog post:
    "These people are often, themselves, controlling. They are wired to build empires, and in order to build empires you have to get people to do what you say, and if you have God standing behind you threatening hurt and pain, you can motivate people. I’ve heard pastors pray and call other men cowards, get angry from the pulpit, yell, belittle other Christian pastors who don’t agree with them, fire people who will not submit to them, surround themselves with yes men and so on. Sadly, they never point the finger at themselves."
But this isn't how God's empire operates. God's empire is about compassion, service, and loving your enemy. It's about feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and inviting the stranger into your home. It's about following the example of Jesus -- who was willing to lay down his life. (And who also only seemed to raise his voice at the religious leaders of his day.)

I can only imagine that it's hard to be a famed "church leader" in this day and age. This isn't about Pat Robertson. We've got thousands of Christian leaders, from the megapastors and authors down to the guys leading small Midwestern churches. If you have the kind of charisma and drive it takes to get lots of people to follow you, it's quite possible you also have the pride and controlling personality that seems to often go along with it.

This new empire, the Kingdom of God, isn't built on the backs of millionaire authors and pastors in three-piece suits. It's a power-under kingdom, a kingdom that thrives when we love each other as Jesus loved, and serve the people that have no one to look after them.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."