A dangerous cult occasionally gets upset when I bring up something that bothers them. One of her former leaders has even gone as far as to call into question my Christianity. The tactic has been to imply I’m a hypocrite because Christian love should include tolerating whatever the local dangerous cult leader and leaders do, have done, or are doing.
This is a seriously flawed argument. For one, our local dangerous cult has been a continued opponent to Christianity, God, Jesus, and the Bible — unless you believe you can become a god yourself. So they come from a biased position, bent on warring against my faith. Additionally, the idea Jesus taught of loving one another is not the same as demanding others reject the rest of the Bible’s teachings in order to accept unbiblical behaviors.
Although my faith and example have been publicly attacked by one particular individual, I happen to know he has struggled with his own faith. He rejected his family’s religion on which he was raised and embraced a cult that also rejects his family’s religion. With the rest of his family keeping their faith and sticking to their principals, he went off and joined a cult. He has his own faith issues, so I understand he’s got his own things to resolve and lashes out at others at times. I represent a faith similar to his family’s, and that bothers him. I get that.
Still, I know that I fail at following my own principles sometimes. I’ve never claimed perfection. I don’t have any regrets in standing up to and exposing the dangerous cult in our community, except that maybe I don’t do more. However, the idea that I don’t love others the way I should … yes, I’ve failed. Unfortunately, I think I’ve done so far too often.
Below is a story, illustrating one of those failures that bothers me to this day.
A man left everything and moved up to the Pacific Northwest to take care of his dying mother. He moved in with her and realized how far behind she was with her bills. As a lifelong handyman, he was able to generate some income while caring for her. Unfortunately, as a lifelong handyman, he hadn’t paid into Social Security much and wouldn’t have any real retirement in a few years.
His mother passed away not too long after his arrival, leaving behind little in assets but much in bills. Her son was left to clean up a mess and try to work some to at least be able to eat. The life of physical labor had taken its toll on him. He struggled even to walk.
I met him when he first moved here. He came to the church a few times. Sometimes I hired him to do work for me and the church in order to help him out. Eventually, I began giving him money. His health deteriorated.
Late one night he asked me for more money, but I had no cash on me. He then asked if I had any change. I gave him all I had. I could have taken him to an ATM but didn’t think of it at the time.
It was sad to watch him walk away into the dark counting change. That was the last I saw him years ago. In my mind, I failed loving that man.
Critics question my Christian example — and so do I.
Jeff Adams is pastor for Paramount Christian Church. His column appears weekly in the Nisqually Valley News. Email him at email@example.com.