Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Are Christians really Christian?

Are Christians really, well, Christian? Would my words and actions show me to be a Christian? Would yours?

I'm not getting caught up in the "my theology is better than your theology" rubbish, but I am talking about the basics of walking the Way of Christ. How those who do not believe see we Christians.

Below, I use "we" a lot. It includes Christians who don't think like me, and Christians who think about this stuff a lot more than I do.
This may come as a shock, but I am not always the embodiment of God's love. If you're a Christian reading this, neither are you, I'll bet.  Not even the saints were 100% love. They had their very human issues and were able to transcend them often enough to become models for other Christians.

As for me, I snap or roll my eyes. I forget that my prosperity is somebody else's poverty, that this earth is the only one I've got. I have time for Pinterest, but not for a phone call, or to serve the less financially fortunate or who are otherwise in need. (Although I am working to rectify this one, beyond donating money or food or unwanted possessions.) 

And spending time with God doesn't seem like it's the highest priority in my life unlike what Scripture says it oughta be.

I wonder if we've created expectations that are too high, that for so long we've proclaimed ourselves as God's chosen, and whittled away at the Other(s), and have given the impression that because we are forgiven, we are thus perfect.  

In the process we've come across as hypocritical and hateful and plain mean because we don't do what Jesus says to do. The New Testament and our self-proclaimed chosenness are the only evidence those who aren't church-goers have as to who we should be.

And thus we can never meet the expectations we've created in the minds of the unchurched, or the de-churched, or whoever is seeking, knowing that there is something beautiful to be found.  

Christians should not put ourselves on a pedestal, should not be idolized, should not even behave if we are God's Greatest Gift.

Because we're not. (That would be Jesus.)

We make mistakes, we are conditioned by the same culture that everyone else lives in, for better or for worse. We want it to be better, but sometimes we can't see because of this big-arse log in our own eye.

I wonder if the pressure on ourselves to be this perfect Christian is too much: that because you've come to church in a crappy mood for perfectly good reasons, you may be driving a wedge between a stranger and God. That seems like a horrible responsibility.

I wonder if we've been raising the wrong expectations by telling the wrong story. 

I wonder if we should go back to the gospels and find the stories of the common fishermen, the disciples who didn't have a clue (except for brief glimpses), the marginalized tax-collectors, beggars and prostitutes.

And in these stories we say: 

We are not Christ. 

We are Peter, who glimpsed God's glory and rejected Him three times and was forgiven by a resurrected Christ.

We are the Samaritan woman at the well, who carried death and sin in her heart but still found the room for joy.

We are one of the nine lepers who have been healed by God's touch and yet forget to give thanks. Sometimes we are the tenth leper who remembered to give thanks.

We are mother Mary, who worries and frets and bosses her grown son around at a wedding, and who sometimes remembers this Jesus is the son of God, and our hearts break wide open.

We are the young rich man who is faithful to God but who is sad when Jesus tells us to give up all our wealth and follow him. We follow and we hang on to our prosperity and hope to be forgiven for not completely obeying His Word.

We are Adams and Eves. We love and we hate. We heal and we break. We pass the sign of peace and in the next breath refuse to forgive.

All imperfect, all end up proclaiming the Good News and celebrating in our own ways that we are loved by God.

We try to live the Good News, try to love God back, and love God's creation.

We don't always succeed. 

The question shouldn't be are Christians really Christian? The question should be are Christians Christ? And the answer to that is no.

We are not Jesus Christ. We love Jesus and that love inspires us to be like Him, to be love in this world. And we have moments and seasons where we are like Him, and times when we forget Him and His Word altogether.

We are (often) his idiot disciples.

4 comments:

  1. Nice. I remember reading over the drinking fountain at an Evangelical church: If being a Christian were against the law, would there be enough evidence to convict you? That took me off on the "Who would be judging and what are the criteria?" road. Which took me off on the side street of "What if no one notices--either way?" And pretty much from there I'm lost...and have managed to avoid the question all together. Your blog examines and explores this question and all the side streets most excellently. It also reminded me of the answer I arrived upon way back then, but so often forget: I'm most Christian when I'm seeing Christ in others. So much easier said than done, so easy to shuffle aside. Thanks for the slap upside the head. Lory

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  2. What a lovely post! "We are (often) his idiot disciples."-absolutely. Thank God for grace!

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  3. Kat -- yes, thanks for grace!!! Where would we be without it?

    Lory -- thanks for the huge compliment. Means a lot coming from you. (and are you better yet?)

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  4. What an insighful post, Leanne!

    This phrase sums it up well:

    "The question shouldn't be are Christians really Christian? The question should be are Christians Christ? And the answer to that is no."

    I've been working thru similar questions, lately, as you can see in this post: http://josephjpote.com/2012/11/light-of-the-world/

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