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23 October 2011

When Christians Attack

Buddy the Christmas Puppy and Jesse the Over-sized Kitty don't get along too well most of the time.

For example, if one of us in the house sees Jesse clawing something he shouldn't and we scold him from across the room, "Jesse! Stop that!" Buddy will hear from whatever room he's in and come running, acting in his self-ordained role of Buddy the Hall Monitor and viciously growl and bark cease and desist orders at Jesse, who will then hiss at his nemesis and run to the safety of the bedroom that's inaccessible to the dogs.

It seems strange, then, that the two of them actually care about one another. This morning Buddy apparently caught one of his sibling puppies doing something "illegal" and ran to address it. A fight ensued, which I heard from the living room. It was one of those snarling, not-at-all-playful fights. I jumped from my chair and knowing that Buddy can be a bully, I snatched him up and while supporting him with one hand I swatted his bottom with the other and chided him forcefully, "Buddy, no!!"

Jesse in his natural habitat
I suddenly realized that Jesse had come to investigate the commotion, as well, because as soon as my hand landed on Buddy's hind quarters I felt the stabbing pain of cat claws and fangs in my leg. Shocked, I turned my attention down to Jesse and simply blurted out, "Jesse!" Assuming he was worked up because of the ruckus and was acting on instinct by clawing something, I looked back up at Buddy, still in my hand, and gave him one final bottom-tap and scolded him again. And Jesse showed me the claws weren't an accident the first time -- he displayed his disapproval by attacking the same leg.


Later, after a little peroxide on my wounds, I marveled that Jesse had defended his usual little adversary when he thought I was doing Buddy wrong or hurting him. Jesse would've made a better impression if he'd just rubbed up against my leg to get my attention rather than drawing blood.

There are some striking parallels to human life here. I think of the way we Christians tend to overreact -- and often do so viciously -- in situations where visible love and patience should be our most observable reactions. When we feel that our interests are being threatened, even if we don't give Jesus the time of day as a rule, we have a terrible tendency to lash out at people (or organizations, etc.) who would dare to say anything negative about Christianity or act in a way that's contrary to what we believe is right.

An example? Some of us could go a month or more without dusting off a Bible or praying (except for the multiple times we ask God to do something good for us), but let us read a news story about someone suing to have "one nation under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and we will be up in arms to protect our "way of life."

In reality, following Jesus is NOT a way of life for the average person in America who calls himself a Christian.

I'm not saying I'm in favor of removing that phrase from the Pledge. But by golly, get us started and we will go down swinging, as if we're doing Jesus a special favor by "declaring Him before men." I contend that we actually do far more harm than good by our savage reactions to what we perceive to be cultural attacks on Christianity. Further, that's not declaring Christ before men. It's making Him look foolish, petty, and small-minded.

If it's true that the only Jesus some people will see is the one they see in you, never attack someone's leg with claws and fangs.

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