Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. –Job 2:9-10 KJV
Some time ago I got a long, convoluted diatribe in the form of an email from someone calling herself simply, “A Real Christian”. At the time, I chose to ignore the email, but for some reason, it has remained on my mind.
Evidently, “A Real Christian” came across this blog some way or another and then read through the archives and managed to find a post or two in which I discussed coming to terms with my Christian faith and/or in which I questioned and/or criticized the so-called Christian church.
And she responded by berating me for questioning Christ and the Church. The closing lines stand out for me:
“It is evident that you are not really committed to Christ. You are a CINO, a Christian in name only. You are one of those spineless wavering Christians who are too scared to make a stand for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Instead you whine and complain about having to follow His word and teachings. You are part of the reason why this nation is in the state it is in now. Why don’t you do yourself and all of us a favor and just curse God and die."
But she misses the whole point. I have never criticized Christ; I am not so arrogant, or even so intrepid, to do such a thing. However, I did level reasoned criticism at the Christian church, and let’s not conflate the two, Christ and Christianity.
For literally centuries, man has hijacked the teachings of Christ to justify a myriad of evils. For literally centuries, Christianity has not been used to comfort or solace or as a prescription for a better life, but as a tool, a bludgeon to be used about the head and shoulders of one’s enemies, political or otherwise, a means to some usually nefarious, sinister end.
I do have a few friends who are either atheists or agnostics who remind me of this on a regular basis. They interrogate my reasons for believing. According to them, I am too intelligent, too rational a person to fall prey to myths and silly superstitions. In their own way, they too are imploring me to curse God and die.
But I explain to them that that is the very essence of faith, a belief in that which is inexplicable, perhaps improbable—“…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”
Not only that, I worship Christ, and I place my faith in Christ, and not Christianity or the Church. However, I suspect followers like “A Real Christian” are so heavily invested physically and emotionally in the Church that they have forgotten the real reason the Church exists. As I see it, there are two disparate groups of people assembling under the banner of Christianity—church people and true believers in Christ.
And of these two groups, the former greatly outnumbers the latter, but these are the voices, the faces, we hear and see most often purporting to represent the true believers, the real Christians. And these are the voices, the faces, whose motives and methods, whose words and deeds, seem to stray so far from the teachings of Christ.
Even as I compose the last sentence, an image of Pat Robertson looking on at the suffering and anguish of the Haitian people, and then declaring that the Haitian people are in such a state because of some pact made with the devil centuries ago. I am still trying to determine what is Christ-like about such a statement.
But back to “A Real Christian.” I did not miss the irony of her statement, “Curse God and die.” Of course, this phrase comes from the Biblical story of Job, one whose faith in God was absolute. At his lowest moment, at the moment when the world seemed to crashing down around him, and when his faith was being sorely tested, his wife implored him simply, “Curse God and die.” However, Job chose not to. Instead, he held fast to his faith despite having every reason to give in and give up.
So, “A Real Christian,” the impetus to question what one believes does arise. And I would go so far as to say that if one never stops to examine their beliefs, to quantify their faith, they need not simply “Curse God and die”: they are already spiritually dead.