Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Is the Church Negative, Judgmental, and Political?
This week we head into week two of our series, They Like Jesus, but Not the Church. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite series we've ever done. Thanks, Paul, for leading us this way.
Back in high school, I used to think that I was a terrible Christian because I never wanted to be lumped into the stereotype. I thought maybe that meant that I was ashamed of Jesus or something. Being 20 years past, it's hard to say what I was feeling in high school - maybe I did want to come across as 'cool' or something, I don't know. The thing is, as I have aged, my aversion to being associated with Christians has continued. And I KNOW that I am not ashamed of Jesus and the difference he has made in my life. He is the best friend I have ever had.
But I must say, I am ashamed of how many people portray Christ. It bugs me when people use Jesus or the bible to support their own agenda. I guess that may be why I so often stay away from political discussions. More than once I have found myself in a conversation where I see a Christian saying things in support of their candidate or party that are in direct opposition to how Jesus tells us to treat each other. It's almost as if the Love you neighbor as yourself, goes out the window in an election year.
And then I go on to think about other labels christians have - like negativity. You know what, a lot of Christians are negative. I don't get it, I really don't. We live in the most amazing time in history. We can learn, we can laugh, and we can make a difference in this world. I think for so long christianity has been about sin management and getting our ticket into heaven that we have missed the amazing things God does in our midst every day. I'm not a pollyanna; don't get me wrong. I know the world has problems, but I know that even in the mess - whatever the mess is - we have the opportunity to see God in it.
So the last label for this next week is that christians are judgmental. Sadly, I know this too often is the case. It's so crazy, ya know? Everyone who follows Christ knows they are broken. We all have struggles. And yet, we each have biases toward what we think is "really bad." I guess one of the areas I struggle with is in judging christians. I have my own stereotype as to how a christian should be: compassionate, loving to all, welcoming to all, hopeful, trusting. And when I see other attitudes displayed, I struggle. Most recently I have been trying to see everyone the way Christ may see them - on a journey, making choices every minute of everyday. I am trying to see Christ even in the 'christiany' stuff I don't agree with.
Right now, I'm not real comfortable being called a christian. I think we have some work to do to redeem that word. I prefer to be thought of as a follower of Jesus. One who is striving to follow the way of Christ. One who is not preoccupied with the little details that don't matter, but is able to see God in each and every person I meet. That's my goal.