Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Garth Rattray | Many churches, not enough Christians

Published:Monday | April 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Brother Roche Tulalian from the Missionaries of the Poor carries the cross along Law Street in Central Kingston on Friday, March 30. Millions worldwide attended mock crucifixions and passion plays that mark the day Jesus was crucified, known to Christians as Good Friday.

There are many real Christians among us; humble, peaceful, helpful, even sacrificial people who live according to Christian principles by loving God and their fellow man. Sadly, for a lot of others, Christianity does not go deep; it remains as superficial as joining a club or charitable organisation. These are the posers who spout Biblical verses, join the church society, and behave all-knowing and holier than thou. These people will argue about whether or not Mary Magdalene was a former prostitute while pitiable circumstances transform thousands into prostitutes right under their distracted and upturned noses.

I attended church a few Sundays ago and was surprised when the priest announced that he was going to put a question to the congregation, but that no one should answer because it was not a Pentecostal church. He was so tickled by his own humour that he repeated his statement. More chuckles. I found it to be in very poor taste and very unchristian. He was denigrating another Christian church (denomination) and from the pulpit in the house of God, no less. However, mere minutes later, he began speaking to several in the front rows - they were preparing for baptism. His attached microphone malfunctioned, and someone from the back of the church yelled out, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" That was followed by a few others shouting from the wings, "USE THE MIKE! USE THE MIKE!"

My experiences at Pentecostal churches taught me that no one in the congregation would shout out like that. They shout in response to something the minister may have asked or initiated, and they shout out when they feel moved by the Holy Spirit, but they would have quietly, respectfully, and discreetly sent up the message, person by person, to the minister to let him/her know that the mike malfunctioned. So much for denigrating Pentecostals. I hope that the priest learnt from the embarrassing experience.

Many 'churchians' worship with perfunctory ritualism. I suppose it's better than nothing, but it's certainly not enough. For some, religion is a social affair or merely a feel-good occupation. Some go to church to feel superior to the so-called sinners. Others believe that God will reward them just because they go to church and perhaps perform some duties or volunteerism. Some see it as simply a lifestyle, and others do it all for their personal gain - support in times of need and networking.

Aside from the plethora of houses of worship, as a nation, we have precious little that can be seen to demonstrate our Christianity. Unfortunately, instead of praying for the children and other members of their congregation, a few church leaders prey upon them. Some religionists are so arrogant in their righteousness that they 'loose it' when some of us express an opinion on religion. They are so filled with self-importance that there's no room within their hearts for the Holy Spirit. Those acting under the veil of Christianity so irked Mahatma Gandhi that he reportedly remarked, "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

The level of unkindness, unfairness, indiscipline, and aggression on the roads is nothing short of astounding. There is an unprecedented level of hate oozing out of the pores of many of our citizens.

This so-called Christian society stood by while politics planted and fertilised malevolent seeds of hate, violence, and disregard for life. We allowed hundreds of thousands to grow up so disenfranchised, abused, exploited, needy, and without proper parental guidance that we are now reaping the evil wind. If Christians follow the precepts of their religion, things can change for the better. I don't believe that it's too late.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice.

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