American Christianity’s no-cost discipleship


A Syrian refugee and her newborn, photo by Russel Watkins, Dept. for International Development

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, leader in the German Confessing Church

Today one of my Facebook friends compared the Middle Eastern refugees to snakes. Not a few of the refugees, mind you, but all of them – complete with side by side pictures of a writhing pile of rattlesnakes and a crowd of refugees. When I tried to engage with him he suggested I post my address so that “they” (I guess he and the 165 people who had liked his status) could send refugees to my house. Frankly, I don’t care if refugees have my address, but I’m not offering it to 166 American bigots.

This friend (who is no longer my Facebook friend) identifies as a Christian. He called 11 million men, women and children snakes, and he will go to church this next Sunday and pray to the same God to whom I pray. I am not convinced that we share a common faith.

Comparing refugees to snakes may be the worst thing I’ve seen, but not by much. Over the last few days I’ve seen Christians say, over and over, that the refugees are not our problem, might have diseases, might be terrorists, might cost us money, only want to use us, and besides, “They’re not even Christians.”

There is room to discuss vetting and funding and logistical concerns.  No one that I know is suggesting that we eliminate all security measures and hang out at the airport with “ISIS welcome here” signs.  But these days, even suggesting that Christians acknowledge the humanity of other humans is too much for some people.

A few months ago I saw the leaders of countless churches rising to fight against same sex marriage based on a handful of scriptures. There are hundreds of places in the Bible that address caring for the poor, refugees, widows, orphans, foreigners, and (because Jesus was nothing if not inclusive) our enemies. But where are those same Christian leaders? Where’s all that zeal for the Bible now?

Church, for the love of God, BE THE CHURCH. Jesus died for us, yes, but first he spent three years teaching us what it means to follow him and we have made obedience to him optional. We value our comfort and wealth more than the lives of our fellow humans.  We have come to believe that discipleship should cost us nothing.   This isn’t the gospel: it’s some syncretistic monstrosity – the Church of the American Way of Life.

I am starting to think that America needs a new Barmen Declaration, a new Confessing Church, and a whole lot more people reading Bonhoeffer.


About Sharon Autenrieth

Wife, mom to 5, homeschooler, Christian Education Director, idealist, malcontent, follower of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, church, politics, religion, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to American Christianity’s no-cost discipleship

  1. angrylittlechef says:

    A couple of weeks ago a neighbor had lettering put on his truck window that said “I hate f-ing foreigners”. And it was all spelled out. The hatred behind it just made my stomach hurt. I don’t understand how you can decide a whole group of people is subhuman. The only thing that made me feel better was about a week later, the lettering had been removed from his truck. Presumably because his friends, family, and/or neighbors confronted him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon, this is the best thing I have read on this situation. You’re absolutely at the heart of the matter and right on target. We *must* “BE THE CHURCH”! I am glad that, even though it seems many don’t get this, there are also many who do. Thank you for writing this.


  3. Jerry Moore says:

    To your essay, this religious skeptic responds: AMEN!

    Liked by 1 person

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