There are so many agendas and so many people who try to define others that some times it is easy to forget who you really are. People think that if you are a Christian then there are specific things you believe politically. If you are a Christian you are expected to be a hypocrite and you probably think that you are better than others. Even college professors have expressed that they have a less than positive view of Christian students. The world has a messed up view of who Christians are. Maybe that is because the most vocal Christians have often been the worst examples and those who humbly follow their Lord less frequently get the limelight. One school did a drill of a school shooting where the shooter was roleplayed as a fundamentalist Christian who was upset that his daughter was not allowed to pray at school. Now when was the last time you heard of a fundamentalist Christian gunning people down? Yet that is the image of Christians some people have in their heads. We have been stereotyped. We have been pigeonholed. We have been seen as bigots due to groups like the Westboro Baptist Church who call their message “Gospel Preaching” but is so full of hate that it is devoid of any sign of Christ. We see bumper stickers that say things like, “Jesus, Save Me From Your Followers.”
I guess that should come as no surprise. The world has never understood the message of grace. It is a foreign conception to many who would rather trample it than listen. They would rather discount and name call and persecute rather than get to know a Christian. It is unfortunate but it seems more and more like it is the case. John 1:5 says that the darkness does not understood the light. I guess things haven’t really changed that much.
How should we respond? We keep our light shining. We keep preaching a message of hope. We avoid hate filled speech that only serves to drive people further and further from the truth and confirm the lies they have come to believe. However, we also stand up for what is right. We fight the good fight and finish the race. We speak the truth in love and boldness and change the world one relationship at a time. Let’s let the world see what a true Christian looks like – not self righteous, pompous, arrogant and hypocritical. Let the world see us for who we really are – a forgiven people who are humbled by the grace of God, a people of love and compassion, and a people with a passion to live authentically in a world of contradictions. Let them see us as people who serve others. Let them see us as people who recognize that we are not better than anyone else or in less need of forgiveness. Let them see the Gospel and Jesus Christ when they look in our eyes. And let’s not be too surprised if even after all of that they still don’t get it. After all, Jesus lived authentically and it cost him his life.
I find myself frustrated sometimes that certain people have given Christianity a bad name. You are absolutely right in your last paragraph. I think one person at a time, we have to prove the world wrong by demonstration, and setting an example. I’ve learned very recently that I can preach all day, but if I’m not living it, nobody will even listen!