Christians Like Contention

A recent issue of Christianity Today featured the headline “They Like Us” on the cover. The issue went on to talk about the fact that most people think favorably of the Christians that they know. Many of us find this hard to believe because we have been so bombarded with the idea that the world hates Christians and is out the get them. Part of the problem may actually be that we like to be hated.

I recently attended a church meeting where the group was discussing how to pull off a Christian display on public property. This was in a small town in a conservative part of the country where there is rarely ever any kind of objection to public displays of religion, yet some of this group was gearing up to face down the “persecution” of anti-Christian government officials and heckling passers by.

We like to have enemies.

We make enemies out of scientist, assuming that they are promoting an atheistic world-view and seeking to disprove the existence of God. We make enemies out of government officials, assuming that they are bent on advancing a secular agenda that removes any reference to God from society. We make enemies out of big business, assuming they want everyone to give up religious conviction so that the can work on Sunday and never say “Merry Christmas” to customers. We make enemies out of doctors, assuming that they want to deny the ability of God to heal. We make enemies of environmentalists, assuming that they care more for trees and spotted owls than for human life. We make enemies out of educators, assuming they want to promote secular, liberal values. We make enemies out of celebrities, intellectuals, wealthy people, protesters, artists, film-makers, homosexuals, news commentators, writers, and just about anyone who is not like us.

Perhaps having enemies helps us feel like our cause (whatever that is) is just. It somehow validates our mission, and so we do nothing to end this conflict, but simply perpetuate it.

The reality is that few people in our society are opposed to Christianity. Science is not out to disprove God. Government officials are not out to squash your religious belief. Academics are not trying to convince you that there is no God.

If we think that we are right and everyone else is wrong, though, it justifies our bad behavior. I am justified if I am rude, offensive, unkind, uncaring, and unloving because I am in the right. The enemy deserves the abuse that I dish out.

Within this perspective, the only acceptable resolution for the contention is for others to become more like me. This perspective is the height of selfishness and immaturity. It is like the child who thinks she gets bad grades because all her teachers are out to get her.

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