Have you ever been critical or dimissive of a church or branch of Christianity, and then were surprised to find that the theology/lifestyle/attitude you were criticizing was, well, producing good fruit in people's lives? Colby Fisher has written a humbling piece over at Killing the Buddha on the experience.
Talking about the church where he served, the author wavers between dismissal and awe as he observes the real-life results of the church's "overly simple" Christianity:
This brand of Christianity, which I now thought of as a simple, and pleasant, and fluffy, that was as easy to digest as Chicken Soup for the Soul, was something that I could simply dismiss and leave behind....
Then I met a 15 year-old girl named Laurie. On the last day of camp, she approached me and in a soft voice said, "Here." She handed me a small tattered plastic bag, it was maybe two inches wide.
"Look inside," Laurie said. I looked inside and there were five rusty razor blades. "I used to use these to cut myself when I got sad. I don't need to anymore. God healed me." Laurie smiled and walked away.
At church the next Sunday, I talked with one of the counselors from our camp, a 35 year-old named Dan who loves to skateboard. I asked him, "How did you like camp?"
His eyes lit up. "I loved it. I haven't told a lot of people this, but my wife left me six months ago. I didn't have anything to live for, and I didn't think I was going to make it. This church has given me something to live for."
Had I died and ended up in an after school special?
Nonetheless, I had a problem. This brand of Christianity that I had dismissed as trite and insubstantial gave a 15-year-old girl a reason to stop cutting herself, and helped a 35-year-old man find a reason to live. They had done these things because of a blind faith in a God who could help them overcome their problems.
My apologies for the lengthy quote, but that scene really grabbed me. One thing I've noticed while blogging here is that it's really, really easy for me to sneer and be critical of Christians and Christian practices that I think are wrong-headed or foolish. Blogging seems to bring out my inner critic.
Now, maybe some of those people really are wrong-headed and foolish. But what do I do when I see some of these "foolish" people producing honest-to-goodness good results in people's lives? When the big uber-megachurch in town ("They're so materialistic!") reaches people with the Gospel despite my skepticism? When the Wrong-Theology-Believing Bible study ("How can they be so mistaken?") produces God-fearing, Christ-honoring people? What happens when the "foolish" person seems to be reflecting Christ more than I am?
I'm not talking about cases of extreme error or heresy. And I know that God often brings out wonderful things and radically changed lives in spite of us.
But sometimes... I think I just need to get down off my high horse.