Christmas is over, and Christians once again heard the story of peace, compassion and love. I am again struck by how often people who proclaim the loudest that they are Christians seem to also be the loudest in proclaiming uncompassionate, un-peaceful and ungenerous words. They insist God created the world, yet have very little awe and respect for that creation, instead viewing the environment as disposable and wildlife as nuisance.
How often do Christians act as a force for pain in the world, in the name of Christianity? How often do they push that "forward" button on the computer and pass on misinformation or hostile attitudes regarding Muslims, the gay community, immigrants, non-English speakers, low-income people and people with whom they simply disagree? How often do Christians support media personalities who spout animosity and resentment?
As I pondered this discrepancy in my religion this past decade, I ran across two helpful quotes. Gandhi said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."
Abraham Lincoln said, "Show me a church that teaches the Golden Rule as its only creed, and follows it, and I will unite with it."
He never found that church.
How different would Christianity, and the world, be, if Christians gave priority to the teachings of Jesus?
Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. Don't lie about others. Love your neighbors, who happen to be members of a hated ethnic and religious group. Bind up their wounds, and give them shelter. The kindness you give to the most powerless member of society, you are giving to Jesus himself. Whoever you deny care, you deny Jesus. When you work against medical care, food, shelter and education for the poor, and harbor resentment, you do that to Jesus.
How different would Christianity, and the world, be, if those were the active highlights of Christianity? Could we break hearts with compassion, rather than harden them with animosity? Would that truly be the essence of Christmas all year long?