Christians are known for a lot of things, but I wonder if we’re ever known for the right things.
A few weeks ago Jon Acuff wrote about an encounter on a plane during which his seatmate expressed surprise over his faith. It would take me longer to describe it than for you to just read the post, but it’s a perfect example of what I mean. (Find his very short post here.)
I don’t know that the world has ever had a truly positive view of us. Christianity began as a rebellious sect of Judaism, which had its own reputation inviting derision and inciting hostility from the Roman Empire. More than a few wars have been fought because of us. The Crusades, American slavery, even Hitler and the KKK claimed our faith.
What distinguishes you as a Christian?
My question this morning isn’t about history, but it is about what people think. What is it about you and me that makes people stop and say, “Oh, of course, they follow Jesus!”
I fear most come to this conclusion because of our judgment, our ridicule, our elitist behavior. Are they wrong? Sadly, not always. Too many believers label pariahs and exclude them for the sake of “purity” or a “strong faith stand.” Rather than sharing the grace poured on us, some have used the overflow to build pedestals for themselves. We’re still mocked as contemporary versions of Dana Carvey’s church lady, and I wonder how different we really are.
We have a reputation, but it’s not the one we want, nor is it the one we should have. While many research and employ great marketing tactics to their ministries and their faith, we don’t need a better marketing plan. We need to follow Jesus. Really, truly, fully follow Jesus. And what did He say should identify us?
I’ve been in the church long enough to know the fear this command stirs. People grow nervous and defensive. They won’t negate the Scripture, but they quickly stipulate conditions and other points of “greater” relevance, like doctrine.
It’s scary to love. To make yourself vulnerable, to give without any promise of reciprocation, reward, or even recognition. Because it’s so scary, so difficult to do well, that is what should define us, we who serve the God of Love, the God who IS love.
Accurate doctrine is critical, but love, mercy and grace are the foundation of the Gospel. The Gospel is the heart of accurate doctrine. So, if we get love wrong, we’ve missed everything.
Talk to me.
How can we be more intentional in pursuing Jesus and a life that accurate reflects Him?