Today, I chose to take the opportunity to visit a Muslim church service that was honoring the victims of the horrible New Zealand tragedy. It was a ‘community service’ open to the public. I wanted to write this blog after attending the service, as I had just devoured Douthat’s book and felt a little ‘boxed in’ by his rhetoric. The service was very enlightening and warm, and many questions were answered by the Iman (whom I learned is the church leader). I learned that Muslims are very loving people and live their lives on a ‘works’ principle instead of a ‘grace’ principle, which differs so much from Christianity. They also believe in Jesus, but not in the Trinity. Jesus, to them, was a great profit, not a Savior. I was surprised to learn they believe in angels and many of the OT prophets. Mostly, I was in awe of their love for those around them and for the world. So, it makes the tragedy in New Zealand all the more senseless. Why are we so afraid of others and their different beliefs? We don’t take the time to understand.
The opposite of love is not hate. It is fear. It is fear of the unknown; fear of not learning what others are all about or who they really are. It is often created through pre-existing bias and expectation of future threat. We often deduce things that are going to happen and anticipate threat. So often our responses our negative – before we even analyze the situation and seek answers to the truth. (Spoken like a true counselor, eh?) As a counselor, I found that fear is often the guiding light for people – preconceived notions of the future. And if our thinking is skewed due to prior circumstances in our life, this can be a powder-keg situation for those living their lives in fear, which truly is the opposite of love…walking in faith and trusting God’s plan.
So, now to tackle Douthat. I found this author to be both negative and far-reaching in his beliefs, almost to the point of fear. By that, I mean that Douthat makes it sound like Christianity is no longer functional in the USA. He claimed that Christianity is mostly misused and misunderstood today and that it is watered-down and falsely promises success to followers. The author then asks: how do we reclaim it? (as though it’s already lost.)
Douthat claims: “It is not enough for Americans to respect orthodox Christianity a bit more than they do at present. To make a difference in our common life, Christianity must be lived – not as a means to social cohesion or national renewal, but as an end unto itself.” Yet, I believe Christians do ‘live’ Christianity. I know there are skewed ideas from some churches and that theology at times has become more loosely adhered to. But, for the most part, I see Christianity alive and well in so many wonderful ways.
There certainly needs to be renewal and accountability for our actions. Yet, what is so exciting is that many Christians today are learning to not just walk in the role of a ‘follower,’ but instead in the role of a ‘Servant of Christ.’ Servant leadership encompasses not just the pastors of the church, but the followers as well. If we are serving as Christ on this earth, He came to help the unsaved, not the saved. Often, it is the church members who are out in the streets, doing the work of Jesus, as the church leaders are often in the role of running the churches and making all the pieces fit. Both roles are crucial, but it is so exciting to see the new ‘movements’ towards servanthood taking place within our local communities (i.e., Jesus Loves Kalamazoo, Love Inc.), which are drawing people into servant leadership by reaching deep into the areas of need in our cities. The author may not approve of this type of Christianity….but I do! It is reaching the secular world in such a positive, impactful way.
So, to sum up this blog, I think all we need as Christians is to allow Christ to serve as our example – and to live together in LOVE. Let’s let love win and trust in Jesus! “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). We’ve already got our Leadership in place…now let’s follow His Lead!!!
 Ross Douthat. Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012), Kindle Edition
 Douthat, Bad Religion, 294.