"The Worst of them All"- What Christianity is and is NOT
Judgmental. Hateful. Intolerant. Ignorant. Homophobic. Narrow-minded.
Small- minded. Self-righteous. Hypocritical. Delusional. Obnoxious. Unintelligent.
When grouped together in such a fashion, what kind of group first comes to mind? Perhaps they describe a despicable hate group, one that protests funerals of fallen soldiers because the army allows homosexuals to serve? Not quite. Maybe they refer to a radical terrorist group from the Middle East that slaughters their own people daily. That’s not it either. The unfortunate truth is that these particular words are some common adjectives and stereotypes that I myself am all too familiar with hearing, being associated with the group I am. So what hateful, horrific group do I subscribe to? Oh, we are “the worst of them all”, actually. We are…(insert drum roll here)… Christians!
I have heard these unkind words before, referring to myself at times, but more often as inaccurate labeling of Christians as a whole, especially on social media. There are certainly some challenges we as Christians face in our world. Today, our society functions in such a way that is excessively concerned with tolerance, political correctness, and other systems in place to not offend anyone…just as long as you fit the status quo of what is being fought for (or what the media reports, at least). Christians don’t necessarily fit the mix.
Being a Christian in an era where everyone is demanding for more rights, recognition and tolerance is an interesting contrast. We do not make demands. We do not make headlines from loud protests and rallies. So what do we do? What does it mean to be a Christian, and what makes Christianity so unique? First let me address what it is not: (I will use scriptural support if you are interested in learning more)
Being a Christian is not:
1. Judging those around you that don’t measure up to a specific set of standards. That goes directly against our scripture. See: Luke 6:42.
2. Hating gays, atheists, Muslims, or any other group of people that do not identify with our ideologies. See: Matthew 22:37-39; Luke 6:27-28.
3. Following blindly a set of rules and regulations to live by in order to achieve a specific level of God’s love, worth, or validation. See: 2 Corinthians 3:5; Ephesians 2:8.
4. Being narrow-minded and uninterested in challenging questions or engaging discourse. See: 1 Peter 3:5
5. Being self-righteous in thinking we are better than anyone else. See: Romans 12:3.
6. Having all the answers. Scientists don’t have all the answers to the mysteries of the universe, either. Christians don’t need to for legitimacy in their beliefs. See:
These are all very common misconceptions that are perpetuated by a combination of a misguided sect of proclaiming Christians that may lack a full understanding of scripture, or from hate groups like Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas that call themselves Christian, but go to funerals of fallen soldiers with signs saying “God hates fags!” No, he certainly does not, and how dare you all for painting such a disgusting picture of our loving God and of Christians as a whole. Those groups that stand on street corners of Las Vegas Blvd with megaphones certainly don’t help either. That is not Christ-like.
Jesus Christ (a historically proven figure that lived two thousand years ago) walked for three years of his ministry, showing love, compassion, and tolerance for ALL people. “It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17). Christian directly translates to “Christ-like” and therefore we are called to model the life of Christ to the best of our ability. This is the primary desire and goal of Christians: to show the love of Christ and follow the example he set. What does this look like? Again I will use direct scriptural references for support.
Being a Christian is about:
1. Fostering a relationship with the Lord. This is key. When someone says, “I’m not religious”, I typically reply with: “neither am I. Christianity isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship. It’s about love.” See: 1 John 4:19; John 6:40.
2. Showing love and tolerance to all people. See: Mark 12:31; Matthew 5:43-47.
3. Continuously seeking wisdom and knowledge. See: Proverbs 3:13
4. Showing humility, grace, forgiveness, and patience to everyone. See: 1 Peter 5:6; Ephesians 4:2.
5. Finding your identity not in what you do, but in who you are in Christ. We have goals, dreams, and aspirations like anyone else. But they do not control us, because our identity is in Him, not in ourselves. See: Galatians 3:26-28, 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Christianity is unique, because it is not about following a set of rules or requirements. There is only one rule: and that is love. Love the Lord. Love your neighbors. Love your friends. And love your enemies. A byproduct of that love is grace. Grace equates to forgiveness, patience and compassion. This is what is in our bible. It is not our religion that is messed up, backwards, hateful, hypocritical, intolerant, or any other of the countless negative stigmas and stereotypes we often find associated. We have been given a gift, but the container for that gift has been shrouded and warped by imperfections of mankind, and it is because of that imperfect human nature that such a gift is often so misunderstood.
I am a Christian, and I make no apologies for it. I do not shove it down anyone’s throat. I post bible verses on my social media like many people post quotes or phrases that are meaningful to them. I try to show the love of Christ through my life, and that includes social media. I am imperfect though, and my mistakes often do not reflect the love of Christ. But because of His love, I am shown grace that I do not deserve, and love I did nothing to earn. I do not need selfies in hopes of seeking validation from the world. My validation comes from knowing I am eternally loved, accepted, and forgiven. No selfie, tweet, or status, nor any amount of followers, likes, or recognition from this world can do the same for me.