Sometimes the title of “Christian” makes me cringe.
I love God. I walk beside Jesus and I believe his Word to be true, but when I see Christians browbeat others with rules I want to hide my fishy bumper sticker and run.
In a bizarre series of events a girl on my daughter’s cheer team went AWOL. It’s not a big deal normally when a girl quits a team, but it’s a big deal when the girl quits the team the day after the group has won a spot to Nationals. Without the sixteen members the team would be forced to forfeit.
The coaches suggested finding another girl to replace her. The girl was not on our roster although she was of the same age and skill. There are rules to protect teams from adding a “ringer” or a girl with superior skills, but this instance was not aimed at gaining an unfair advantage. If anything, the replacement was more of a disadvantage in the added effort and time spent to bring her up to speed—although the switch might not have technically adhered to the letter of the law. It was a gray area scenario they wanted to investigate further. They acknowledged that if someone wanted to make a big deal regarding the replacement the team could be disqualified. They asked the parents if we were willing to take the risk.
All of the parents agreed to move forward understanding the consequences.
One mother walked up to the emergency meeting late. She had not heard the full and detailed explanation but only picked up the last few words of the conversation. She then interrupted, “I will not have my daughter be a part of anything questionable. I am a strong Christian and I don’t think this promotes the right values. If we decide to move forward this way I am pulling her out.”
She walked off grumbling about how the Holy Spirit made her speak up in the midst of deceit.
If she had stopped for a moment and turned around she might have noticed the havoc her words left; in her wake of righteousness stood fifteen girls –including her daughter sobbing their hearts out.
Now missing two girls, the coaches threw up their hands and canceled the rest of the season. All their hard work went down the drain –in the name of being a “good Christian.”
Now if the Holy Spirit told her to speak up then by all means she needed to voice her concerns. We are all held accountable to God for our actions.
But I have to wonder if this wasn’t an example of the spirit of the law vs. the law? Were these girls hurting anyone? No. Were they trying to steal or cheat their way into an award? No. They simply wanted a chance to compete –something they earned. The letter of the law is the rule that is put in place “not to add a un-rostered member.” The spirit of the law is “don’t bring in a highly skilled cheerleader to get an advantage.”
I don’t know the mind of Christ. His will is a mystery. But I do know he was a bit of a rebel. He healed on the Sabbath; he touched lepers and bleeding women and Samaritans. He messed with the money changers and turned over tables in a fit of anger.
And I imagine he might care more for the hearts of impressionable young girls than for a rulebook made up by a bunch of business savvy/aging cheerleaders who charge way too much money to let our girls climb on a stage and perform.
Was this an issue of integrity or legalism? While I don’t disagree with the focus on honesty I do take issue with self-righteousness in the name of Christianity. It seems like what the parents and the girls heard that night was “because I am Christian, you don’t get to compete.”
“Only 16 percent of non-Christian young people under 30 say they have a “good impression” of Christianity, and a mere 3 percent feel that way about evangelical Christianity, according to the Barna Group, a Christian market research organization. As recently as the 1990s a majority of non-Christians viewed Christianity favorably.”
Research reveals that young people today consider their churches as fear-based, risk-averse, isolated, shallow, antagonistic to science, simplistic and judgmental about sexuality, and inhospitable to questions or doubts.
The biggest complaint on the under 30 crowd is that “Christianity in today’s society no longer looks like Jesus.”
Fortunately, our coaches found an airtight and “100% by the cheer rulebook” way to work in a new girl which I am confident they would have done to begin with, because their credibility was on the line too.
God did provide another way, one I think we are all more comfortable with. I believe the rules are in place to protect although in some instances I believe the heart trumps being right for right’s sake.
I’m thrilled my kid still gets a chance to compete, but I still have a sour taste for the damage done to young girls who will never forget the night the “Christian lady” crushed their fragile hearts.
Source of Photo: http://pinterest.com/hannahschliep/