Some respect. Who knew?

Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times. I have admired his work when he goes to Africa and writes of the horror he witnesses constantly in that area of the world. He focused on the Sudan years ago and brought a lot of awareness to the genocide in that country.

In this column he openly admits he has little time for evangelicals. In fact…

Today, among urban Americans and Europeans, “evangelical Christian” is sometimes a synonym for “rube.” In liberal circles, evangelicals constitute one of the few groups that it’s safe to mock openly.

So, that’s no secret, to be sure.

But what Kristof also admits is he can’t get around liking a few of them every once in awhile. Of course, most of the comments following his column mock him severely for even thinking such a stupid thought. Who can really like evangelicals? Get a brain, Kristof!

Kristof knows so many doctors and nurses doing relief work are not necessarily believers, but here is a huge admission on his part:

But I must say that a disproportionate share of the aid workers I’ve met in the wildest places over the years, long after anyone sensible had evacuated, have been evangelicals, nuns or priests.

Dear God! Evangelicals actually put their faith on the line and do something! Who knew?

Kudos to Kristof for making such bold statements. He will get uninvited to a lot of cocktail parties again. But… that’s the price of a liberal actually thinking and observing every once in awhile. 🙂

The next time you hear someone at a cocktail party mock evangelicals, think of Dr. Foster and those like him. These are folks who don’t so much proclaim the gospel as live it. They deserve better.

It’s the quiet living out of the power of the Kingdom that simply helps this world be a better place. It’s not the yelling over the blogosphere, or the yelling on a “news” show. It’s the living out of the gospel. It IS good news, and we live it out in so many ways… every day.

Just Living Out Faith

There have been many reflections in all kinds of places on the life of John Stott since his passing this week. One of the kindest pieces I have read is from Nicholas Krisotff.

This piece demonstrates the mental contortions we enter into in our world. As a conservative, evangelical Pentecostal, I see and experience these moral gymnastics we go through because, doggone it, we just have to label people. We have to put them in pigeon holes to know what we’re dealing with. Everyone does it. I know I do. I am trying harder not to, but I still struggle.

Kristoff admits his prejudices, which I appreciate. The circles he normally travels in hold disdain for anything labeled “evangelical.” And, of course, many evangelicals would have that same disdain for anything labeled “liberal.”

John Stott helped break those molds for evangelicals. John Stott held up a standard that I wish more people would admit they see in more evangelicals, as Kristoff admits in this article. Too often it’s easy to allow our categories to be informed by the blowhards. We let the televangelists be the mold. Or, for evangelicals, we let the Bill Mahers and Keith Olbermans of the world be our whipping boys for our views of liberals. It’s easier that way. We can make fun, mock, and dismiss.

But John Stott didn’t let that happen. His quiet life and bold witness impressed guys like Kristoff. I’m just thankful Kristoff is strong enough to admit it.

But in reporting on poverty, disease and oppression, I’ve seen so many others. Evangelicals are disproportionately likely to donate 10 percent of their incomes to charities, mostly church-related. More important, go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison rape, obstetric fistula, human trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people you meet are evangelical Christians (or conservative Catholics, similar in many ways) who truly live their faith.

I still hold to this mold of conservative theology, strong on the authority of Scripture, love for the Church of Jesus Christ AND trying hard not to throw all liberals into the molds that make it so easy to mock them. I will not be the intellectual stalwart Stott was in his wonderful ministry. Yet, I want to be faithful to the Scriptures I hold sacred. I don’t want to contort and distort, even though that may happen from time to time because I am indeed human and I am trying to wrap my puny little brain around the magnificent Divine.

I am thankful for the quiet witness of John Stott. Still around is the quiet witness of Dallas Willard. Those are the heroes I hold to in my tradition of the faith.

Compassion and Conservative Christians

Who knew? Obviously, no one had any idea “conservative” Christians could be compassionate… that is until someone like the New York Time officially recognizes that, hey, conservative Christians actually do some good! Okay, NOW, conservative Christians can be considered as compassionate. (It was like the media “discovering” Pentecostals in 2006, the 100th Anniversary of Azusa Street.)

Nicholas Kristof gives a slight tip of the hat to the compassion of conservative Christians, and their amazing generosity. He still needs to take his digs at that crowd. (But, hey, I still need to take my digs at him as well.)

Kristof does make an excellent point that is overlooked so often by many people:

A root problem is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations. Those doing the sneering typically give away far less money than evangelicals. They’re also less likely to spend vacations volunteering at, say, a school or a clinic in Rwanda.

The media may be finally waking up to the hard work, the generosity, and YES, the compassion of conservative Christians. Of course, there is no way they will attribute that phrase to George W. Bush and his work. Why be overly generous?

Still, it’s nice to see some kudos for some very hard work going on in Haiti, Africa, and other parts of the world.