Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Greatest of These

Paul, in his first letter to the fledgling church in Corinth, is reported to have said: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

This quote came to me as I walked in San Francisco tonight and came upon a pair of alcoholics at a corner as I made my way through a somewhat dodgy neighborhood toward a theater. My sense was they wanted to panhandle me, so I avoided all eye contact in order to evade having to interact with them at all, even to refuse their pleas. Well, that's not exactly when the quote came to me. First I had to feel a little guilty that I was ignoring fellow humans in need. But it didn't come to me quite then, either. Instead, as my mind sought ways to deal with the guilt, I remembered a TV spot that is currently running. The spot shows homeless people and delivers the message that "it's OK to say, 'sorry, not today.'" And THAT'S when Paul's quote came to me.

I look at the tremendous political power Christian organizations and Christian leaders have in this country. And how do they use it? Not to spread Christ's message of faith, hope and charity, but to attempt to impose their morality on others. To spread intolerance and limit scientific research. I realize many churches do reach out to the needy, and many people of faith minister (as opposed to preach) to the most destitute among us, but I think Christ would be very disappointed with what Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham and James Dobson are doing today with their money and influence.

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