But I am.
I am surprised, because so many people that I know identify as some kind of Christian denomination, whether Catholic or Protestant. I am surprised, because a common refrain heard from Christians is that the United States is a "Christian nation" or that it is "founded on Christian values". I am surprised, because 77% of adults in the U.S. identify as Christian. We follow the same Jesus, and we read the same Bible (well, mostly).
We all have Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" in our Bibles:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you --Matthew 5:44We all have Paul's words to the Romans in our Bibles:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. --Romans 12:2And so, I ask my fellow Christians. During the high intensity of yesterday's news, were you praying for this young man? Did you think that he has a mother and father who love him? Did you grieve for them? Did you grieve for the hardening of this young man's heart? Did you hope for his death, or did you hope for his life, not only so that we could have answers, but so that we could pray our God would work in him?
Do we really believe that knowing Jesus is transformative, or is that just something we like to say during Bible study or Sunday school, so that we all nod our heads in agreement? Is it something we just like to tell those non-Christians, so that we can make sure they get their ticket into heaven?
Do we really believe that Jesus can change people's lives?
If we don't, then we have no business calling ourselves Christian. If we don't, we just need to stop posting our daily Bible verses on Twitter and Facebook. If we don't, then why are we in church each Sunday, singing hymns or praise songs? If we don't believe it, if we haven't experienced it, then why do we want others to follow Jesus too?
But if we do believe Jesus can change people's lives, then we believe that Jesus can change anyone's life. Even you. Even me. Even a murderer. Paul taught us that.
You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother. In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me. --Galatians 1:13-24May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen. -- Galatians 6:18