The Ugly Face of Christian Religiosity

I am sad that so many people who profess to be fervent Christians seem to be ignoring the commandment of Christ on which the whole of the Law is based: That you love one another as I have loved you.

It isn’t always easy to love your neighbour; some are unlovable in the extreme, but as Jesus pointed out, how can we love God, whom we have not seen, when we don’t love our fellow man, whom we have seen? Some people would argue in response that it is easier to love an abstract God, an ideal that we have imagined, with only lovable attributes. But that is like a teenager idolising a pop star, it has nothing to do with a Christian’s love of his heavenly Father or of Jesus Christ.

I am sad at the arrogance of so many people who claim to be Christians, at their narrow-minded holier-than-thou attitude. I am sad that they fail to see the pharisaic plank in their own eye, as they judge, condemn and metaphorically execute those who do not conform to their own religious pattern.

I believe that one reason the first Commandment tells us to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart is because it is the first essential step. If we truly love God above all else, we open ourselves to receive God’s love in return, and knowing and experiencing God’s love enables us to see others differently: to see them as God sees them. Without this essential first step, we cannot obey the second part of this Commandment, to love thy neighbour as thyself; because this is what gives us God’s perspective and we can then be a channel for His love instead of forcing ourselves to try and like someone we dislike intensely or pretending to like them, which can only end in hypocrisy.

I am sad, as I watch the news on TV about the US presidential elections, to see how religion – in its worst sense, of binding its believers to certain rules – is blinding so many people and offending so many others; how Christianity is being presented in a form that has nothing to do with Christ’s person or teachings. No wonder Christians are getting a bad name.

I am sad that so many claim to be followers of Christ but refuse to heed His basic tenets.  Fundamentalists should, by definition, live by the fundamentals of their faith, the core essentials and primary principles of what they believe: for a Christian, this involves applying the Sermon on the Mount to daily life, private and public. How many of us do that?

Matthew 7:12 says: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Is that really so difficult?

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