Instead of packing for a our trip down to Philadelphia for the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve been wasting time reading David Sedaris’ hilarious book: Naked. The book is a series of essays about his family and his personal travels around America.
One story called “c.o.g.” really sucked me in for all 50 pages. It’s worth reading in a bookstore at some point if you find it.
Throughout this twisted story there is so much going on with sin, Christianity, and the search for identity and belonging.
The “c.o.g.” title refers to “Child of God.” In his travels Sedaris meets up with some good and not-so-good Christians. What was so striking to me was the way the Christians, who treated Sedaris fairly well, tolerated this one guy name Jon, the self-proclaimed c.o.g., who was immoral, profane, and cruel.
I suppose that’s the dilemma that Christians face. Either we’re the world’s doormat or we’re these judgmental hypocrites. There are similar themes in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying by the way.
In the case of Sedaris and Jon, the Christians were equally nice and dare I say tolerant to both of them. Nevertheless, it seemed that Jon needed to be challenged to give his sinful pursuits. The treatment of Sedaris was very correctly tolerant.
What a number of fine lines we have to walk! The church must speak truth to our world about its emptiness without the loving rule of God, while never expecting the world to live according to Christian values.
In addition, the church is called to go the extra mile and to turn the other cheek, but we can’t expect to walk much more than 20 miles in a day and we only have two cheeks. Should there be a limit to charity and generosity? When does charity become problematic enabling?
On the other hand, the church should challenge and even sometimes expel its own who depart from the Lord. Nevertheless, we have to somehow aim for restoration and healing, never fully giving up on those who are wayward.