Story type: Essay
Are you throwing stones at Christ and the Christian Cause?
Pause, reflect before you answer. Not all the stones are thrown by the Atheist, the Agnostic, the Infidel. No, the most cruel stones, the ones that wound most deeply, are thrown from the pulpit itself.
The kiss of Judas strikes deeper than the spear of the Roman legionary; the denial of Peter is more cruel than the Crown of Thorns.
Are you Throwing Stones at Christ and the Christian Cause?
You in the Amen Corner stand forth and answer me. Drop that catechism! release that credo! take your lips from that crucifix! Now look me in the eye and speak the words of truth and soberness: Are you a property owner? Have you buildings rented to keepers of dives and bagnios? Do you come here on Sunday and pray the Lord to protect the young from temptation while you are the silent partner of criminals? Have you ever contributed to send missionaries to Madagascar money that was received from people whose business it is to debauch your neighbor’s sons and, if possible, degrade his daughters? No? Thank God for that. Do you know of any member of this church who is so guilty? You suspect as much? Then why do you not go on your knees to him and beg him to turn from his evil ways? Do you not know that by keeping silent you tacitly endorse his infamy–that you bring the Christian cause into contempt; that you make it a byword and a reproach–that you are Throwing Stones at Christ?
No; do not sit down yet. What are your worldly possessions? How much did that diamond in your shirt- front cost? What was the expense of that costume worn by the woman who worships at your side? You surprise me! Worth fifty, a thousand dollars!–wearing diamonds, buying $1,000 dresses–for what? To wear to church–in which to worship Him who had not where to lay his head! And a thousand people in this one city alone in abject poverty– “And the greatest of these is Charity.” What a cruel stone is Selfishness to Throw at Christ!
Is that your minister in immaculate broadcloth and shiny boots, turning the leaves of his Bible with lily-fingers? Pardon me that I did not recognize him. You see I have been reading of John the Baptist with his raiment of camel’s hair,–of Christ with his single garment, tramping barefoot, unshaven and unshorn over Judea’s blazing hills.
Stand up, thou vicegerent of the Hebrew carpenter, and let me question thee: You will not? I have no authority? Yet publicans and sinners questioned thy Master, and He answered freely and with all gentleness. Art thou greater than He?
Are you Throwing Stones at Christ and the Christian Cause?
Be careful,–think well before you answer. In a minister of God a mistake in this matter were little better than a crime. Are you inculcating the spirit of Christ or Belial–of Love or Hate? What do ye when mocked, reviled, your purposes called in question? Do you go to the mocker, extend to him a brother’s hand and strive by moral suasion to lead him out of the depths of everlasting darkness into the bright effulgence of heavenly Day? Do you turn the other cheek to the smiter and pray, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”? Or do you mount the pulpit with a splenetic heart and, with frantic gestures and a voice hoarse with passion denounce the criticism as “infernal rubbish”?
Are you seeking the salvation of souls or notoriety? Are you striving to foment discord in your community or cast oil upon the troubled waters? Are you striving to establish on earth the universal brotherhood of Man and common fatherhood of God, or Throwing Stones at Christ and the Christian Cause from the cover of a canting hypocrisy?
Do you strive when criticised to transfer the criticism from yourself to the Savior? Do you brand men who dare to differ from you as blasphemers,–as though you were one with God and that to question your superior wisdom and goodness were equal to deny the Almighty? Do you, by presumption where you should be meek, by belligerency where you should act the peacemaker, by dogmatism where you should humbly seek the light, by denunciation where you should propitiate, call down the world’s contempt on the cause you profess to serve–Cast Stones at Christ?
It is Written, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Do you Always heed the law?–carefully refrain from resolving yourself into an inquisitorial court,–becoming both prosecutor and judge and condemning those who chance to differ from you?
“Why so hot, little man?” The world rolled on, oh so many weary years before the Fates kindly sent thee to set it right; it will go on much in the same old way after both thee and thy work have been forgotten.
To the stones cast at Christ by professed unbelievers we need give but little heed. They rain harmless as Parthian shafts on the shield of Achilles. Never was atheistical book written, never was infidel argument penned that touched the core of any religion, Christian or Pagan. They but serve as driving sand of the desert to scour the eating rust from the Christian armor. Seldom indeed does the avowed infidel cast a stone at Christ,–he contents himself with holding up to the world’s scorn the mummeries in which dogmatizers have invested the teachings of the grandest man that ever died for truth. God created nothing in vain. Even the atheist has his uses; nay, even the splenetic preacher may fill an important niche in the great world’s economy–may be a real blessing in disguise.
Very remarkable is it that Christ’s holy cause best prospered, was purest, most powerful for good when most persecuted, “The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.” From the auto da fe arose the anthem that thrilled the Pagan heart. From prison cells poured forth paeans of praise that caused princes to kiss the cross. From the outlawed conventicle went forth a holy zeal that carried millions to the throne of grace,–from the gloomy midnight meeting there burst a light that illumed the world.
The stones cast by avowed enemies were the steps by which the Cause of Christ mounted from poverty and obscurity to thrones and wealth, to name and fame,–the wings with which it encircled the great round globe, the power that enabled it to break down the barriers of the most obdurate hearts.
It is the stones cast by professed friends–the stones of Selfishness and Pride, of Intolerance and Vain-glory,–of Hate and Discord masquerading in the garb of Love and Law–that cause the wounds on Calvary to bleed afresh, the tears in Gethsemane to flow anew, the Crown of Thorns to once more burn the throbbing brow, the scourge to fall across the naked shoulders of the Son of God.
Are you Throwing Stones at Christ and His Cause?