Monday, November 22, 2010

Scrubbing New Jerusalem’s Toilets, Part 4: The Bless-You-Brothers

This past weekend, an elderly couple in their 60s went before our church to say that they were going on a mission trip – again. People had told them they should retire, but as the woman said, they couldn’t do that in good conscience because it was clear that there was no one volunteering to pick up where they left off.

Apparently, there wasn’t support available of any sort for new missions – personal or financial.
That brought to mind my own similar perceptions with a certain type of Christian that is all over churches these days. I’ve been dealing with them since I began doing apologetics as a hobby so many years ago. I call these people the Bless-You-Brothers.
Here’s how a typical conversation would go with a Bless-You-Brother:

BYB: “So, what do you do?”

Me: “I’m a Christian apologist.”

BYB: “Oh? What does that mean?” (may also be accompanied by some lame joke about being sorry I’m a Christian)

Me: (explains apologetics)

BYB: “Oh! Well, praise God! Bless you, brother!” (may be accompanied by clap on shoulder before scurrying away)

That’s what they say. But it’s code for:

BYB: “Yikes! This guy might ask me for support. I’d better find someone else to talk to.”

James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
The Bless-You-Brothers are the sort of people who I know right away would never be interested in supporting a ministry (not just an apologetics ministry, either), financially or otherwise – with one exception. They might tell you that they’ll pray for you.
I don’t take that as an earnest pledge very often, though. More often than not, “I’ll pray for you” is code for, “I don’t want to give away any more of my precious money. I need to buy a new car to replace the one I’m getting tired of; the house needs a new coat of paint, and I already give away 10% to the church. So here’s a bone. Woof woof.”

Part of the problem is not their own: It’s also this idea that prayer is a sort of gumball machine. This gives the Bless-You-Brothers a sort of contrived justification for refusing any sort of other support: If they prayed for you, well, then they DID do something, right?

And yes, the doctrine of the tithe is partly to blame too. It’s given some people this idea that if they reach 10%, their obligation is done. But that’s not the model any more – it’s much more sacrificial than that. (See on that here.)

In the end, the Bless-You-Brothers are the ones with the problem: A sort of inherent self-centeredness, and an insulated nature that wants to make sure that those Third World orphans they saw on TV, stay on TV, and not in front of their faces on the mission field. They want all the benefits of Christianity (what my beloved Mrs H calls “fire insurance”) but none of the responsibilities.

Well, there’s at least some good news for those people.

Toilets aren’t flammable.

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