I’ve been reading through Calvin Miller’s memoir “Life is Mostly Edges.” Reading his experiences have given me a greater appreciation for the things I had to go through as a child and the way people have helped me through the years.
Looking back upon my experiences in the church, I marvel at the capacity that people have to do good things in the name of Jesus.
Looking back upon my experiences in the church, I also marvel at the capacity that people have to do mean things in the name of Jesus.
There’s a North Carolina pastor who stood before his church and told them that the way to get rid of homosexuals was to build a large, electrified fence and put them all in there. Eventually, they would all die out, he said.
Then there’s those careless remarks offered by a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention on his radio show. Commenting on the Trayvon Martin case, Richard Land called Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton “race hustlers” and “racial ambulance chasers.”
The media does a good job of elevating examples like this and saying “all Christians are like that.” It doesn’t help when pastors and other church leaders get behind a microphone and use such hateful rhetoric.
It’s vital to maintain the prophetic function of the church to our culture. We need to be mindful of the need and challenge to “speak the truth in love.” We just want to make sure that it’s both truthful and loving.
We don’t hear about the good stories enough, though. Many people responsible for them don’t perform these acts of generosity for the publicity. And a lot of these folks would never consider themselves extra special for their kindness.
Miller related his fascination about this aspect of church: What is it about Christians that produces such a yearning to make the world a better place—such a need to make perfect the imperfections of a corrupt world? What made Mrs. Duerksen so interested in poor boys’ naked feet one December? She had her own shoes, so why should she care? And those wonderful black galoshes, what caused that?. . . It wasn’t just Jesus that appealed to me, it was what Jesus did through people, who could for brief shining moments stop thinking about themselves and turn their mind to someone else” (p117).
The church has its share of problems. But thank God for the Mrs. Duerksens out there who have helped through the years. They’ve given money to get children to youth camps. They’ve encouraged students who are in college and couldn’t be there without their financial support.
These men and women of God pray diligently, attend worship faithfully, take an interest in the less fortunate, spend time with children, listen to old people, and do kind things in the name of Jesus that don’t go viral on the internet.
I appreciate Calvin for sharing that story in his book. The Mrs. Duerksens in the church have been a blessing to me, and my hope is that we will not only know people like that but also be people like that.