Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Count it all joy, my friends, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
What amazing babies we have become. Along with a fairly wide variety of responses to the mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I have been seeing this kind of thing pop up across the Internet. Sometime last week in Hillsborough County, Florida the county commissioners voted to raise the rainbow flag as a sign of solidarity with the LGBT community. Kind of a nice gesture really. Then one of the commissioners got an ostensibly anonymous phone call from a county employee who felt “that the presence of the flag was ‘nearly unbearable’ for her to pass on her way to work and created a ‘hostile work environment.’ You know, because she is a Christian and all.
Also very recently, the Rev. Christopher Rodkey, a pastor in Dallastown, PA heard from a few irate ‘Christians’ when he put up a banner wishing a blessed Ramadan to the Muslims in his community. He heard from a school board official who said he was disgusted by the banner and referred to Islam as a godless, pagan, religion. Oh, the hubris of the willfully ignorant. I won’t name any names, but I know that we have had at least a couple of our own church members who have heard from ‘Christian’ neighbors when their bigoted worldview was challenged by the erection of a rainbow flag or an expression of religious comity.
I somehow doubt that this kind of over-sensitive yowling is what Jesus had in mind when he suggested that his followers needed to become like children in order to enter the realm of God, but there we are. The Church has, in the last few decades, managed to raise a large crop of thin skinned snivelers, who hold the sincere belief that the bad old world owes it to them, as a matter of religious freedom no less, to insure that their little feelings aren’t being hurt, and their narrow theologies aren’t being challenged. They worship a guy who allowed himself to be crucified in order to make a solid point about a loving, inclusive, God, but they demand that the rest of us live our lives so as not to upset their delicate sensibilities.
It really is no wonder that so many people see all Christians as touchy, fragile, judgmental, hypocrites. No wonder at all. It really isn’t a problem to share the world with people whose opinions and proclivities are other than our own. In fact, healthy communities are usually built by sharing those differences; by learning from them, and negotiating them for the common good. It requires though, that we give up our entitled sense of privilege; the idea that the world owes us a custom crafted rose glass bubble filled with soft emotional packing peanuts. You would think that Christians might know this.
“Being a good person doesn’t depend on your religion, your race or your skin color or your culture. It depends on the state of your heart, and how well you treat others.”
“You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.”