What it means to be a Christian
As the Gospels read, the beginning, middle and end of Jesus’ teaching is that of liberating truth. Millionaire TV ministries and many large churches teaching that you are saved by faith alone is false Christian teaching. The gospels are clear: You are only saved by the work you do and judged by how you treat the least upon us.
Churches are manmade and worthy of suspect. Surprising to many, the founders felt the same. Benjamin Franklin said it bluntly: “When a religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” From Franklin letter to Richard Price, Oct. 9, 1780.
And lest we believe otherwise, John Adams makes it clear: “The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” John Adams, speaking at the Treaty of Tripoli, 1796.
But, the idea that the United States is a ‘Christian nation’ has always been central to American identity. So, it’s imperative that we ask what is a Christian identity that defines a Christian nation. Obviously, as Jesus taught, talk is cheap. Anyone can say they’re a Christian. So, how do we identify real Christianity? The brother of Jesus tells us: “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” says James 2:18.
So, the time has come to address large tax-free, expensively landscaped churches that call themselves Christian, and ask the bluntly honest questions: What do you do? Whom do you serve? If you continue to refuse to shelter the homeless and do the works of the Christ you claim to worship, how can your millions of dollars in unpaid property tax continue to be justified?
The Gospel is clear: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, ... and money from sale of personal property... was given to anyone who had need,” says Acts: 4:32-34
Thus, the Gospel demands the question: Can one pass the homeless on the way to Sunday service and continue to be called a Christian?
Joseph Colella, Mentone