I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what other people would say if asked to describe me. I’ve never been one to really care what others think and to be totally honest, I still really don’t care all that much, which I guess makes it strange that I’ve been giving it so much thought. But recently, I’ve heard so many negative things about Christians that I’ve begun to wonder what people in my life would say about me.
Because I know one thing for certain. If you ask anybody I know to describe me, whether they’ve known me for hours or years, they would say I am a Christian. Hopefully they’d say some other stuff too…but that’s the only one I’m sure of. You see, I work at a church which, by societal standards, pretty much propels me into Superchristian status. Of course I do other typical Christian things too, I go on mission trips and send my kids to Christian camps. They’ve been a part of every type of Christian club around and have played on Christian sports teams. We’ve gone to Christian concerts and I read Christian books. My older kids have volunteered, interned for and worked at the church, and one of them is now looking into attending a Christian college. Yep, everyone who knows me, would say I am a Christian.
So with all of the bad publicity surrounding Christians, what does that mean about how people view me? Because if I just listened to what’s being said, I would think that we are all terrible, greedy monsters that want to keep our money to ourselves and don’t want healthcare to be accessible to the poor. We want those poor to keep having babies, although we don’t want to give them any public assistance. But if they decide to have an abortion, we’ll be waiting outside to shoot the doctor or bomb the clinic. We hate gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews and atheists and love protesting pretty much anything but especially funerals for fallen soldiers. We don’t drink, swear or do anything fun and we only associate with others that share our view points. In our free time, we love to sit around thumping our Bibles and judging others for doing all of the things that we are far to holy to do.
So I’m having trouble getting my mind around the fact that I am one of them.
I try hard to follow Jesus. I want to be like him and for my life to look like his did. He was always loving and kind. He purposefully hung out with the people that nobody else wanted anything to do with. He called out the religious people and told them that they needed to be taking care of the poor and the oppressed. He told them that they should be helping the widows and the orphans. He said that it wasn’t their place to judge people and that they should love others more than they love themselves.
I try to be like him, but I find myself slipping back into old habits and ways, being judgmental and critical. Being unkind, and not showing love to people who just irritate me. I can get gossipy and I’ve been rude to people just because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with whatever was going on at the time. Jesus wouldn’t do those things.
And although some days are better than others, even on my best day I am a pretty poor representation of Jesus. But I don’t think I look anything like the picture that society paints of a Christian either.
The bad thing about being a Christian is that people are basing their opinion of Jesus on my behavior, and I am never going to be a true reflection of him.
I can’t change the way that society as a whole views Christians. But I hope that the people around me see my life and know that I’m trying, and that when they see all of those other negative things about Christians, they realize that those people aren’t a reflection of Jesus either. I hope that in me they see an example, however pitiful it is, of someone who is kind and generous and someone who loves others. Not because I want people to be impressed with me but because I want people to catch a glimpse of a God that is loving and gracious and good all the time. A God that is nothing like us Christians.