I’m not a Christian apologist. In fact, I’m not even comfortable admitting I’m a Christian. But I am for Jesus. And I want to make sure that people don’t confuse the two.
There are many Christians who are awesome Christ-followers. There are many who quietly work for justice and peace. There are many who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and visit those in prison. You know, the stuff Jesus said to do.
But they are quiet. They are quiet because that is part of it. They understand that they aren’t supposed to toot their own horn or call attention to themselves. They understand that they are to keep their piety private. They understand this because they have read the words of Jesus. They understand this because they have Jesus in their hearts.
My issue is with the people who aren’t pious and who aren’t quiet. My issue is with the people who give the term “Christian” a bad name. Those people who make “Christian” mean anything but love and service.
I’m not apologizing for them. They are like the relatives that you don’t talk about. While Christians generally agree that the Westboro Baptist Church people aren’t following Jesus, they get a little iffy on the Duck Dynasty patriarch. They feel that some level of crazy-hateful-intolerance is OK.
The problem is, it isn’t. It isn’t Christian to be anything other than loving, and ‘loving’ doesn’t mean telling other people they are wrong and going to hell because of how they are living their lives. The more you read of Jesus’ words, the more you realize that.
I feel like I keep writing this same thing over and over, yet I feel it is still necessary. I almost didn’t write my Duck Dynasty piece. I feel like they don’t need any more attention. I feel like the whole thing needs to die down. But then, I realize that they are doing the exact opposite of what Jesus wants, and they are besmirching the name of Jesus. Way too many people can’t see Jesus because of all the fake Christians standing in His way.
I’m not a Christian apologist. I don’t want anybody to become a Christian – not now, not with what “Christian” means right now.
But I will say I love Jesus, and I want you to know that Jesus isn’t like His followers at all. They say that you know a tree by its fruit, and if you look there are a lot of really rotten apples in the bunch. But it isn’t all bad. The good ones are hiding.
Sometimes I want to burn the whole thing down and start over from scratch. I want to strip away everything that gets in the way of following Jesus, of serving God. Jesus did this. There were ten Commandments, and Jesus stripped them down to two. He saw that people were getting bogged down in the details and missing the big picture.
Sure I’m upset when people use Christianity as an excuse to be judgmental and hateful. I’m also upset when they do this to the exclusion of focusing on more important matters.
Christians, if we really are going to be worthy of the name, need to focus more on poverty and homelessness than pornography and homosexuality.
Instead of telling others what they are doing wrong, we need to start doing things right. There are people who are dying every day because they don’t have enough food or water. There are people who are suffering because they don’t live in a safe home. People are illiterate and undereducated. People are in prisons, both real and mental.
This is our calling. This is our place. This is what we are here to do. We are here to relieve suffering. We are here to lighten the load. We are here to help.
That is what being a Christian should mean. We need to be known for our love.
That is who Jesus is.
We need to be more like Jesus, who was totally obedient to God. He broke all the rules of his society and declared everybody “clean.” He touched the lepers and the menstruating woman – both were excluded and inhuman in those times. He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. He violated every rule to show us that nobody is unclean. Nobody is inhuman. Everybody is welcome. Everybody is loved.
This is what we are supposed to do. Love. Welcome. Serve. Forgive. Bless.
So if you were to ask me right now if you should become a Christian, I’d say no. Become a Jesus follower instead. Read the Gospels – any translation. Don’t read someone else’s interpretation of the Gospels yet. Read the words of Jesus. There are some bits that don’t make sense – that’s OK. Even his disciples didn’t get everything and he had to explain it to them. There are some bits that are repeated. That’s OK too. It is the same story from four different viewpoints. The people who put the New Testament together thought that this story was too important to try to mash together into one story, so they left it the way it is.
You’ll come to see that the Jesus you find looks nothing like the one you’ve been sold all these years.