Nepal and Christians who preach on the back of the dead by John Pavlovitz. 

APRIL 27, 2015

Praying 4 the lost souls in Nepal. Praying not a single destroyed pagan temple will b rebuilt & the people will repent/receive Christ. – Preacher Tony Miano on Twitter

Right now people in Nepal are still buried beneath the rubble and some Christians are already standing upon it to preach. 

As of this writing, nearly 4,000 lives are confirmed lost with more sure to be added. The images and stories are simply devastating; such incredible sadness and loss and pain, still some self-professed followers of Jesus aren’t content with that. 

They must add religious insult to terrible injury, salt to the open flesh of the already horribly wounded.

It’s one of the more tasteless and disheartening patterns repeated by certain extreme segments of the Jesus-following population, to rush to any tragedy; mass shootings, natural disasters, high-profile deaths, and to sermonize recklessly.

Like ambulance-chasing lawyers, they speed to places of disaster and grief, and instead of embracing it and tending to it, they use it as a soapbox.

They step upon the broken backs of human beings and instead of delivering a teary eulogy, they give a spiteful lecture, disguised as religion. 

I’m not sure what possesses someone to make their first response to human suffering some kind of thinly veiled, spiritually loaded “I told you so”, but I know that it doesn’t at all resemble Jesus.

He modeled the kind of benevolence in the face of other people’s pain that so many pastors, preachers and public figures like Miano seem to lack any understanding of. They claim that they’re lovingly telling people the truth, but in reality they’re trying to threaten people into Heaven by throwing a blanket judgment over an entire country of people they’ve never met. They’re fear brokers with no regard for the pain of those they exploit or the collateral damage to those who standby, many viewing them as speaking for Jesus.

The lives and deaths of other people are not currency for ministry.

They aren’t exhibits in some religious morality play.

They aren’t cautionary tales about eternal damnation.

They aren’t an opportunity to grandstand or finger wag.

Photo by Attila Siha

Photo by Attila Siha

Much like the unlikely Samaritan hero of the story shared by Jesus, when pain comes to people anywhere, our place as followers of Christ is in the midst of that pain; binding up the broken limbs, washing the wounds, embracing the shaken, and being the mercy-givers.

We are a people marked by compassion and kindness lavished without agenda, without caveat, and without condition.

That is our greatest testimony to the love of Jesus in the world. 

That is love that transforms.

It is the loudest sermon we are called to give.

There’s no way to drown out the voices of those who choose to use religion to shock and wound and to editorialize disaster, as they will always garner microphones and grab airtime, but we can shout back forcibly into that noise.

We can speak words of healing and solidarity, and we can do the work of restoring those who suffer regardless of whether or not they share our religious perspective or political affiliations. We can affirm our value for Life and our pain when it is lost—period.

Since none of us really knows the eternal destination of anyone else, we can simply grieve the end of what we know here on earth and have empathy for their survivors.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, I ask you to consider giving generously to those doing relief work in Nepal, here or here.

Let us make our shared agenda, one that transcends our faith traditions; a unified voice that speaks love loudly while surrounded by so much that is needlessly hurtful.

John Pavlovitz

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