Where are the Christians? | SummitDaily.com

Where are the Christians?

Rich Mayfield

By now we all realize that the terrorists were not just murderous villains but hypocritical liars as well. Although they professed their belief in Allah and the practices of Islam, their lives betrayed their true intentions.

There is abundant evidence that many of the 19 engaged in some very un-Islamic behavior. Drinking in bars, carousing with women, energetically enjoying the pleasures of Western culture, all of this would be very difficult to justify from the writings of their sacred Koran.

This is why it is so disturbing to read and hear from a variety of sources in the Middle East these men described as faithful Muslims. They were nothing of the sort. The 19 who took to their deaths over 3,000 innocent men, women and children were representative of nothing like the venerable religion established by Muhammad. To claim their actions as honoring Allah is a lie and an ugly perversion of Islam.

Writing as a Christian, I need to remind myself and perhaps in the process some of you, that before I get too self-righteously smug over Islamic distortions, I should examine the distortions found within my own faith. Somewhere I read, “How can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?”

The most recent issue of U.S. News and World Report identifies, perhaps unintentionally, a number of logs floating in the eyes of Christians. In an article entitled, “Faith in America”, Jeffrey L. Sheler reports religion remains a very important part for two-thirds of Americans and, even more intriguing to me, one-half of all Americans say they attend worship services AT LEAST once a week.

As someone who can, I think, fairly claim some expertise on worship attendance, I have to say that there are more than a few Christians out there lying through their teeth.

In the little county where I live, there reside about 23,000 people. For argument’s sake, let’s say we are representative of the rest of America and three-fourths of our population claims to be Christian. So what is that about 15,200 folk following Jesus up here? And if 50 percent of them attend worship AT LEAST once a week, that means we’ve got 7,600 people putting on their Sunday best EVERY Sunday!

Last time I checked, we’ve got 16 local Christian congregations listed in the Yellow Pages. Some of those probably have no more than a couple of dozen people in worship on a Sunday while one or two may have upward to 500 or more. Most of us preachers probably would consider 200 or 300 faithful folk on a Sabbath morning a very nice turnout indeed. So the way I figure it, on the best of Sundays, not including Easter or Christmas Eve when even the most hardened atheist is tempted to join in the fun, we may get, if we count every baby in the nursery and every dad out in the car reading the Sunday paper, maybe 3,000 folk, tops.

According to my figures and if that survey can be believed, that turns 4,600 Christians residing in Summit County, Colorado into bald-faced liars.

Who knows? Maybe when the Christians were being interviewed for this last survey they were feeling particularly pious and resolved to change their errant ways right then and there. Perhaps they didn’t see themselves as fudging on the truth as much as predicting the future. Nevertheless, and even though it’s a requirement of my faith to give folk a lot of latitude, somebody, it seems, is stretching credibility further than it’s meant to go.

In any case, it seems incumbent upon those of us who claim the Christian moniker to act a little more like Christ and a little less like the liars most of us seem to be. After all, it wouldn’t be right for the rest of the world to judge our religion by what we say rather than what we do.

Of course I could be wrong about all this. It’s been known to happen before.

Truth to tell, it wouldn’t bother me a bit to have to set up extra chairs next Sunday.

Rich Mayfield is pastor of the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church and regular columnist for the Summit Daily News.

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