Came across a great little blog post by Shawn Smucker. Who? I don’t know, but multiple people were linking to the post so I checked it out. Glad I did.
He argues that beliefs have become the litmus test of our culture. A week and a half before an election, that’s too true.
And it’s especially true for the church:
Taking the “correct” position on every issue imaginable has become our way of declaring the Good News. It’s no wonder church attendance is dwindling and the broader culture is becoming increasingly disenchanted with Christianity – when the message of Good News has been watered down to consenting to various positions or beliefs, the Good News transforms into the Right News. Which is actually rather annoying, and not much fun to listen to or to help spread.
So true. Any time we line up based on our beliefs it gets ugly. But when we’re able to look beyond our beliefs, we can come together and accomplish so much more (hmm… that’s sounds like the core idea of Anglicanism, maybe part of why I like my church).
The solution Shawn advocates: Action, not belief. It’s about loving people, not believing the right thing.
I think smart people would say this is the debate between orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right action). They’d also probably argue that you can’t have right action without right belief—otherwise how do you know what to do? I get that, but I think it’s a facade. You don’t have to nail down every belief to know how to love people.
Shawn ends with a painful question: “Are we Christians good for anything anymore?”
How we answer that—or rather, how the rest of the world (family, friends, strangers) answers that is the ultimate test.
Sidebar: I realize letting the rest of the world answer that seems like a reversal of the Christian position. Shouldn’t our worth come from God? Yes. However, if we’re supposed to love our neighbor then that love should play a major role in answering that question. If we’re not good for anything, we’re doing it wrong. Let’s confess and try again.