I’m a cynic. I know that. In the past few years I’ve slipped into this position, and I’m fully aware of it. I’m okay with it. But being a cynic is very difficult when you go to church. Anything religious is a mental accident for the cynic. But it’s very helpful knowing this as I walk into any Christian setting. I know my mind will be mocking half the people I see, the comments I hear, the amen’s at broad generalizations. But there’s also part of me that knows the rest of me is a cynic and tells that part of me to shut up. There’s this part of me that hasn’t been taken over by the cynic, and it knows that God can still work through the perky woman who adores pithy phrases. It knows I might need to hear something said by someone my cynical side wants to ridicule. And so I enter religious settings like I’m walking on glass, trying to let God come in and speak to me, and trying even harder not to ridicule his mouthpiece.
Which is why I really hate it when Christians say stupid things. I have a hard enough time dealing with differences of opinion, style, taste, even differences of doctrine and theology. The girl who sings “Oh Lord,” after every song drives me nuts, but the non-cynic in me knows there’s nothing wrong with what she’s doing. But there’s nothing I can do when a speaker says something flat out wrong, or even worse, just plain stupid. Then I have no defense. The cynic wins, and I’m sitting there wondering why I came.
Tonight I was told that my generation is genetically coded to be the generation to reach the unreached peoples of the world. If genetics are passed on from generation to generation, how come we’re the unique generation? His examples of our unique genetic coding were pretty lame too: our willingness to take risks (the X-Games?) and our desire to travel. I never knew either of those were genetic. But apparently they are. And from there it got worse. From really weak historical parallels to grossly inaccurate facts to a call to seize our destiny. If it’s destiny, shouldn’t it be seizing you?
And here’s the kicker. All of this was leading up to a call for us to be missionaries to fulfill the verse in Matthew that talks about all the nations hearing the gospel and then the end will come. Now I have nothing against missionaries, I think that’s all well and good. But what is with this morbid desire to fulfill this verse? First of all, do people actually think that by preaching the gospel in x number of countries Jesus will come back? Is he just up there waiting on us? And so is that the goal, preach the gospel in every country on the earth, regardless of the results, just so Jesus will come back? Shouldn’t the goal be to save as many people as possible, period? What about all the people who have heard the gospel but haven’t accepted it? Are we just assuming those people are lost for good? And how do you determine if a “nation” has heard the gospel? And what if a nation has come and gone without hearing the gospel? It seems pretty callous to me to focus on what it takes to bring Jesus back. I remember Jesus saying no one will know the day or the hour of his return, and he seemed to indicate that when he comes back isn’t important. We’re not supposed to work towards his coming back. We’re supposed to work towards bringing people to him. If he comes back because of our hard work of preaching to all the nations (that sounds pretty pretentious, doesn’t it?), then haven’t we quickened his coming and therefore lessened the number of people who will accept him? It’s as if we’re hoarding Jesus for ourselves. What’s more important? Jesus coming back, or bringing people to Jesus? That’s quite a quandary, and it’s one I’d rather leave up to God.
I just wish Christians weren’t so easy to mock. We make it too easy.