Recently, I was listening to the Vampire Weekend song “Unbelievers”. It’s an extremely catchy tune. However, what caught my attention were the lyrics that stirred questions in my mind. Take a listen:
“We know the fire awaits unbelievers all of the sinners the same.”
“Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?”
As I listened to this song, I found myself asking this question: Is this the message Christianity is sharing with the world around us?
Unfortunately, rather than focusing on the love, grace, hope, mercy, and compassion of Christ, the message that is generally being spread is one of impending doom for those who do not believe. I know that is a big stereotype and there are many out their doing their best to breathe hope, life, joy, and love into the world. But, is that the message that is getting out to the masses? It doesn’t seem like the guys in Vampire Weekend have received a message of love, grace, mercy, and compassion, but one of the fires of hell.
Let’s be honest, even within Christian circles, we condemn those who do not believe exactly like us to hell. Conservatives condemn liberals to hell, and vice versa. Pro-lifers trash the pro-choice crowd. Within the UMC, Confessing Movement and Reconciling Movement are deeply divided and are less than loving with one another. Protestants and Catholics wonder if the other really even believe in Jesus. And so, we communicate that heaven is reserved only for those who think like we do.
Is this the message Christ desires for us to bring to the world?
John 3:17, you know…the verse after that often quoted one says, “God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
Jesus came, not to condemn, but to save. Yet, so many of us within the walls of the church, find great joy in condemning those who are “unbelievers”.
So, how do we move from the generalized characteristic of being judgmental and hell-focused?