Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Open Letter From a Christian (Re: Eddie Long)

To whom it may concern,

This recent situation involving Bishop Eddie Long saddens me. I'm not going to speak on whether or not he's guilty cause if I knew that, I'd be in law school with my sister right now. But it's inevitably going to cause a stain on how people view the church and its members.

No matter what happens, when a notable Christian, Catholic, person of faith stumbles (whether notable on a large scale or in a circle of friends), everyone judges them like they're supposed to be perfect people who never mess up. People put them on such a high pedestal that if they fall, the fall's so much greater than it should be.

It's so funny how people are quick to judge Christians yet accuse us of doing the same all the time. While I cannot condone many of us who judge people for what they do as opposed to judging actions (and we all do it at some point), it's even more hypocritical to do the same thing you point out in others.

Let me tell ya what we're not. We're not perfect - we strive to be as close as we can knowing that we fall short. We mess up, struggle, do good things and try to live good lives just like you. The only difference is our motivation for it.

Being a person of faith is a daily struggle. Maybe it's our fault for not showing that struggle enough. Maybe you see too much of us judging the faults in society and not us being humble and acknowledging our own in the process. We cannot just speak out against the world without correcting ourselves in the process.

The lofty standards you've given Christians should be flattering. We should be honored that people expect certain things of us and it's our duty to represent the faith properly. But it also can be an unreal burden that somehow removes personal accountability from yourself to live to that same basic standard of decency.

Before you try to judge any of us based on 1 person's stumbles, you should remember something. Are you perfect? Are you above being criticized for your mistakes? Hath not a Christian blood in their veins like you? If we both get pricked, do we not bleed? If we both lie, are we not both guilty of sin?

Bishop Eddie Long's accusations sadden me. True or not, it saddens me that here is another bigtime preacher who has done plenty of good works but has been caught up in being a CEO (his words) than just simply a shepherd. Charges or not, the way he's being reported as conducting himself is sad.

Power is a corrupting force. Many good folks as well as shady ones have been sucked in its vortex and lost sight of their mission or used it to promote one that is troubling.

At the same time, I know a lot of folks will rush to protect him and defend him. I pray for the truth to be revealed and for healing to all parties involved. Let's not rush to protect our own so much that we villainize the accusers. 

Whether Bishop Long did those things or not, it shouldn't change your view of Christians, Christianity or religion in general. As CNN's Roland Martin tweeted, 4% of Christian churches are megachurches by definition. There are preachers out there who abuse their title just like CEO's, politicians and others in power. There are Christians who are bold hypocrites but we see plenty of people who are the same in other situations.

Does this excuse them? No. They are hurting the body of Christ as well as its perception. Like it or not, the things we do as Christians will ultimately help or hurt the body based on how we are seen. We are the only Bibles most folks will read and our conduct goes a lot further than a sermon.

Nevertheless, don't judge the whole bunch by a few bad apples. Focus on those who are doing their best to set an example. If you judge all of us based on a few preachers doing wrong, then stay home from work the next time you see your boss say one thing and do another. In the meantime, I'll be watching this situation with a close eye.


Virgo Kent

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