A lot of the time, the Christian community takes a battering for being illogical, for being intolerant, for being extremist, for being hypocritical. These things are all present, but I think that these are stereotypes or attacks that don’t grapple with the reality of Christianity’s claims. Regardless, we often are at the wrong end of criticism.
But the other end is just as bad (if not worse). Because of this, whenever Chriatianity has a seeming “victory” in the public domain (when it compares favourably to other faith systems, when Christian conviction causes some incredible service, or when a Christian academic ha some success against opposition), Christians get almost gloating. This I something I strongly noticed a couple of weeks back; Richard Dawkins refused to debate a Christian scholar, and Christians took the chance to ridicule Dawkins, and to be incredibly proud.
[EDIT – You can find more of the story with that particular scenario HERE and HERE. I’m not going to comment on the reasoning behind Dawkins’ refusal (HERE), I just found some of the Christian backlash to be very proud and unloving.]
I have a pretty massive problem with this. Firstly, as someone who is centred on Christ, the Christian is to be humble. Lauding it over opposition is pride. If it is targeted at someone in particular, it is unloving and a bad witness to both that person and to anyone who sees it.
Christianity, I think, can come across as immature and self-centred when this occurs. It is not a good witness to repay opposition with just as much venom. Jesus speaks of turning the other cheek, an loving the enemy.
I’m not saying that we ought not to rejoice in seeing opposition to God brought low; his glory is the biggest thing. But serving God’s glory means rejoicing that people may have been free from the cunning deception of whatever it was that is brought low., WHILST STILL LOVING AND SERVING everyone.
Here’s a passage that I found real challenging.
“Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me of things that I do not know.
They repay me evil for good;
my soul is bereft.
But I, when they were sick—
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
as one who laments his mother,
I bowed down in mourning. (Psalm 35:11-14 ESV)