Woke up this morning to a Facebook post about Donald Trump visiting Liberty university in my feed.
I don’t know much about Liberty University other than it’s a Christian school. By Christian, I mean it’s one of those schools that has “Christ” right in the mast head, certain rules about attendance to church functions, and a few other fundamentalist precepts that are common in religious universities of it’s kind.
Why Donald Trump spoke there, I don’t know. But I didn’t need to. What he talked about wasn’t the draw. The fact that Donald Trump, a “sinful business tycoon” went to University with Christ in the mast head, was. In fact, by the time I got to the bottom of all the pretty pictures and commentary, there were over a thousand comments debating the lead, which is, the sinfulness of Donald Trump and what he could possibly say a group of good young Christian scholars.
I start reading the comments. Fighting, preaching, arguing. The standard stuff. And then I realized that what was taking place in front of me in those little dialogue boxes is essentially what takes place in front of me and just about every other Christian in our society any give hour of any give day. Stagnation.
It’s so easy to look at an issue from the outside and decide whether or not it’s a good or bad thing. Whether it’s Biblical. Whether it’s “what Jesus would do”. And then we hop on our phones, or our Twitter account, or our Facebook pages and we dispense our opinions, as if they matter to anyone else but us. We dispense them because we think—we honestly think—that by doing so we have fulfilled some deeper Christian belief, the one that states having the correct opinion of someone else’s wrong behavior makes us holier, and fulfills the gospel.
It’s sad. I say this all as a hypocrite mind you, because I do it too. It’s the conviction of doing it that has me writing this to you now. Why do we think that finding the right opinion over the spiritual alignment of some action or another, we’ve fulfilled what Christ asked from his followers? He called us to love our neighbor as ourself, and we don’t do it. He called us to feed the hungry, and we don’t do it. He called us to put clothes on the poor, and we don’t do it. He called us to lose our life in place of others, and we don’t do it. So how on earth can we deem filling in a comment box with an opinion on what others are doing as absolution for the multitude of things that we don’t do?
A little while I put up a quote by Soren Kierkegaard about the nature of Christian scholarship. In his reference to scholarship he wasn’t just talking about those Christians that attend a place like Liberty. He was calling out all of us on how we believe if we dissect the Bible into theological bullet points we can then use to dilute the hard and full truth that we are called to act, that being a Christian is a much more demanding—indeed, if done right, it will probably kill us—way of life than solving our spiritual mental math.
We’re all Pharisees when it comes down to it. All of us thinking that if keep to some set of rules, rules that miss the point of the Gospel but none the less makes us feel we’re absolved of letting the rest of the humanity suffer. As if Jesus called us not to pour out our lives in service of the destitute but simply do our best, and cover what we can’t’ get to with really snarky posts on Facebook about how others are missing the point worse than we are.
I’m not trying to vilify social media. I’m probably on it more than anyone. I’m saying that generating an opinion, then flinging it into cyberspace in no way qualifies us as competent believers, nor does it justify our lack of action. In the ancient world, you could agree with someone’s teachings on a subject. Doing so, however, did no make you a follower. To be called a follower of a teacher—rabbi, philosopher, priest, etc…—you had to commit your life to the imitation of their teaching. In other words, you actually had to follow it. In the modern world, apparently you just have to agree with a teacher, and know the material well enough to point out how someone else is screwing it up. No wonder Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”