Monday, January 18, 2016

Are Christians Cowards? By Father Theodore Daoud

The Cowardice of Christians!

Christians have become cowards. We are a shame to Christianity and to Christ. We Christians have abdicated our responsibility to bear witness to the truth to God’s world. Even though there is a large number of Christians in America, we behave like sheep. We are humiliated by politicians, the media, government, and educators. When we speak in public, we are asked not to speak of God, and we are ridiculed when we express the truths that God has revealed. The public institutions we support through our taxes are often openly hostile to Christ and His message.

 We don’t need to be afraid to defend our values. Christian values have stood the test of time, and lead to peaceful and productive lives. We don’t need to be “politically correct.” In fact, we can’t be politically correct and Christians. God calls us to be holy and not accept that which is contrary to truth and righteousness. Retailers, industry, and the media continue to offend Christians by replacing our feasts with commercialism, yet we Christians fail to raise our voices and call for what is right. The world tells us that not everyone is Christian; thus they cannot use Christian expressions in their advertising, but in the same stores we see signs of Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Eid.

Should it upset Christians that all other religions, and atheists, are offered respect and protection in schools and universities, while Christians are marginalized? Christians are not allowed to mention Christ’s name or sing Christmas songs without some form of backlash. Even the Christmas tree has become a target. Just about everything that society used to consider wrong and unhealthy has become acceptable in our country, except mentioning the name of Christ or His blessed feasts. We Christians have limited our Christianity to the time we spend in church.

While we may worship with excitement and call Christ Lord, and some will shout “Hallelujah” when they leave our churches, we act like lost sheep and cowards. We say that we are anxious not to hurt people’s feelings by crossing ourselves, but we have the dignity of their Lord, who said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20). He also said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

Yes, we are cowards. A cup of coffee from Starbucks is more important than the dignity of Christ, and God’s commandment which says that “whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in the glory of His Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).

We run to Starbucks, Walmart, Target, Wegmans, and other stores that continuously secularize Christmas, the feast of Christ’s birth, but we Christians keep coming back for more. Why support these people who are constantly offending our faith? Why do they get offended when we say Merry Christmas? How are we offending them? Is it because we are wishing them peace on earth and joy to their hearts? Why are they bothered? They are bothered because it reminds them of Christ, who came for the salvation of mankind.

This hate and blatant bigotry against Christianity exists because the world rejected Christ, and continues to reject Him as it seeks to worship any other god; money, sex, and the self. Are we of the world, or are we the witnesses of the truth in the world? If we are seventy percent of those who live in a democratic republic, where is the democracy? Where is the republic? Why is the majority not expressing its faith? Does the Constitution not defend our right to freedom of religion? It does, and we must use it. We Christians must remember; life without dignity has no meaning. Let’s remember who we are, and what God has done for us. He is the God of our forefathers, and the God of all.

Let us remember our parents in the faith who challenged emperors and kings, and great heresies.  They suffered, and often died as martyrs, witnessing to the One who died on the cross for their salvation – your salvation, for the salvation of your children, and that of the world. My dear brothers and sisters, teach your children what courage, manhood and womanhood are. Do not let Christmas go by like those before. If the world wants a war, based on their bigotry and hatred against us and our Lord, let us declare another war based on love, wisdom, and courage. Wherever we go, let us proclaim that Christ is born, and let us wish a Merry Christmas to everyone. Let us decorate our homes with lights. Let us decorate our hearts with Christ’s light, with courage and love for God ­ first, and for our neighbour second.

The Lord said to be meek like a lamb and gentle like doves, but he also said that we should be wise as serpents. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. No one can lay blame on us for mistakes a few people in the Church commit. Those people, whoever they were, or are, do not represent Christianity. If they did, they would not have hurt the Church of Christ and her reputation. The Church is pure and perfect. Christians may be bad, but Christianity – never – for the faith remains preserved.

Christians, rise like your Lord rose from the tomb. Rise from your death to life, from shame to dignity. In this coming feast, be the presence of the angels in this darkened society and let your light shine, without fear or cowardice, by saying loudly, “Merry Christmas,” to everyone, declaring that Christ is born, Hallelujah! Whether they like it or not, it is a Merry Christmas, and because it is merry, we repeat with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will among men.” Amen, Amen, Amen.

Father Theodore Daoud, Parish Priest,

St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, Baltimore, Maryland