Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Faith Without Works?

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. We hear these “so called” declarations of faith from one end of America life to another. Our political candidates “declare” their belief in God while using it to pass legislation that fits with their beliefs system despite the First Amendment’s ban on congress making laws respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. However, we see a form of Christianity in this country that has nothing to do with the actual teachings and actions of Jesus, but more of a public display that put the idea of being a Christian in the same league as joining a fraternity, sorority or other social clubs. Then, there is the selling aspect of it all. We have to buy bumper stickers, bracelets and t-shirts to” share our faith” with the lost world that is in desperate need of the gospel.

Celebrities and even sports stars “declare” their faith and two particular athletes have really given the Christians base a big push over the last year. Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, whose public confessions of faith have energized our Christian base from the religious right to evangelicals. Jeremy Lin now wears bracelets made by Active Faith, an apparel company started by former basketball player Lanny Smith and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver. Both are members of the Lakewood Church, the mega-church pastored by Joel Osteen, which draws almost 50,000 attendees per week. The website opens with a verse from 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by FAITH, not by sight. A pretty catchy way to lead to their mission statement which says they provide fashionable and functional sportswear the active athlete as well as any person wanting to wear and share their faith. Again, “share” their faith, what does this really mean? I can share my faith by buying a pair of $30 yoga tights or a $45 hoodie? Or, maybe one of those wonderful wristbands that Jeremy “Linsanity” Lin wears during his games now that he starts for the New York Knicks.

On a slightly different note, Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback has made his faith public by kneeling in prayer at games and even post Bible verses under his eye. Tebow, like Lin, have seen a ground swell of support from those on the Christian Right who believe that Tebow, in his public displays of faith (now known as Tebowing), is somehow “standing up for Jesus”. Tebow has made his rounds on Fox news and has been interviewed about his faith by several including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee where he discuss the reasons for his faith and even talked about his mother and father’s decision not to terminate him in the womb when there were potential complications. Tebow, like Lin really believe in doing humanitarian work, however, this work is usually overshadowed by the PDF’s (public displays of faith). Even those on the Christian right seem to ignore the works that Tebow and Lin are doing to make the world a little bit better by only discussing the public displays. Why are Tebow and Lin paraded around like poster boys for Jesus? It gives the Christian Club, as I call it, a chance to thumb their noses to a society that they claim is so against them and their beliefs. Evangelicals will often say that they are persecuted because of what they stand for when they are the ones that prove to be intolerant of beliefs that different from theirs.

If you look at the society as a whole, Christianity is very dominating in this society and most of the world. For nearly four years we have been forced to hear argrements over the religion of President Barak Obama, and our negative perception of Muslims has increased greatly. I don’t chanellged the faith of this men, I do challenge what Christianity has become in this country. Jesus was a revolutionary but he is seldom described as such. He spoke to the power structures both political and religious and demanded justice for all oppressed people. However, he is always described as meek and humbled.

We loved to proclaim the belief in Christ be we have made it a point to fall short of doing the work. Christians are given a duty and that was to stand for those who have no voices. Instead, Christians hide themselves away in their buildings, selective communities, and only speaking out on “certain” issues. This is not what Jesus taught. What we have instead is a religious system that has married itself to the very oppressive system that it should be standing against. It convinces people to except the world as it is and to worry only about you and yours. We see this throughout the history of America from Spaniards first arrival in the New World, to the present. But, that is fine as long as we can buy our little toys proclaim out faith and not really do anything. That is what it’s all about, right? James 2:14; my brothers, what is the gain if anyone says he has faith, but does not have works? Is the faith able to save him?

Frank Johnson

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