Friday, May 25, 2007

A practicing Christian

"Are you a practicing Christian?" asked the reporter. It was the word "practicing" that gave me pause. When I hesitated too long, he asked, "Well, do you go to church?"

"No." The answer to that one was easy. Or at least that was my first reaction. But then I started pondering that question as well. "What’s a church?" I wondered out loud.

I have great respect for professional journalists, and so I never intend to be obtuse. But I’m just not very good at talking in sound-bites, and I actually think about their questions. Sometimes I’m still thinking about them long after the reporter has moved on.

In many ways, SNAP is like a church. We are a community of people who unite to support one another in a common mission. We each have our own journey, but we travel similar paths and we have all encountered great chasms along the way. Some of us are people of faith, and some of us are people of non-faith, but we try to help one another over and through the dreadful darkness of those chasms.

When we bleed, we bind one another’s wounds. And we labor in the belief and hope that our lives may work for good so that others may be free from such hellish misery.

Maybe I’m part of a church-like community after all. It’s nothing like the church I grew up in. With SNAP, the doors are flung wide-open, and we won’t make you sign any creed. We will simply try to help you and to provide a welcoming sanctuary.

"Are you a practicing Christian?" If a reporter asked SBC president Frank Page that question, I expect he would answer "yes" without a moment’s hesitation. But perhaps he and other Southern Baptist officials should hesitate. Perhaps they should ponder it.

When Southern Baptist officials are confronted by those who've been sexually savaged by clergy predators, they turn away and leave them wounded and bleeding by the side of the road. Or they run their donkeys right over them. Is that what a "practicing Christian" would do?

It gives you a different perspective when you’re the one who’s bleeding in the dirt. You don’t care much about whether someone says he’s a "practicing Christian" or not. What you care about is whether they will get off that donkey and do something. Because if they don’t, you’ll still be bleeding in the dirt and watching a donkey’s ass walk away.


Rob Moll said...

You're right, Christa. "Practicing" means much more than going to church on Sundays. And "church" means much more than a weekly gathering of Christians. A practicing Christian should be doing the things that Jesus said to do, which is a lot more than church-going. And a church should be welcoming to all sorts of people, even, perhaps especially, those who can point out our faults.

Christa Brown said...

Reader: Welcome here and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I just took a look at your blog...what an interesting distraction! It offers just what I need...more books to want to read! As if my nightstand wasn't piled high enough already! Looking forward to seeing your review of the John Donne book.