Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Christianity...but not the way you think.

Get ready people.

*she clears her throat and climbs Mt. Soapbox*

I think it's time for us to clear up a few things, but in order for us to do that we're gonna have to put on our big girl panties (or big boy pants - whatever. i don't judge.)

I have heard and read a lot of discussions about what it means to be a Christian in my lifetime. A lot of them. Many of the ones I've seen lately have centered on how bad we are, or how wrong we are, or how politically in one direction we are, or how hypocritical we are because our lives aren't perfect OR because we don't accept someone else's imperfections. And while I agree that SOME Christians are hypocritical to the extreme, and SOME Christians are extremely political, and SOME Christians... (insert offensive example here)... I certainly don't believe we can be all lumped together like one giant brain.

So... that said, there a few things I would like to say...

1. Christianity is not charm school, business school, marriage counseling, parenting classes or Gold's gym. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We screw up. We cheat. We go bankrupt. We have imperfect relationships. This does not mean that we don't try. Christianity is not a magic pill of perfection. It is a lens through which we see the world, that colors our response to the way things are and our motivation to try and be better than we are. Are some of us more well behaved than others? Yes, but...

2. Christianity is not a get out of jail free card. Our lives do not instantly become perfect the moment we learn the secret handshake (ok. there is no secret handshake. but you want there to be one now don't you?). If you don't believe me, see number one, above. We are still responsible for our own actions. If I do something I know to be wrong, I still have to live with the consequences of my actions, and hopefully the people around me will lovingly hold me accountable. Let me say that again. Christians are supposed to hold each other lovingly accountable. That doesn't mean we don't screw up. It doesn't mean we don't have to live with the consequences of our bad actions. But it also means that we should love each other around those problems (or at least try!). That all people are worthy of our effort and love, whether they are capable of good choices or not. This is NOT EASY.

3. Faith does not equal religion. Religious people have faith (one would assume!), but faith is a belief while religion is more of a construct (I know someone is going to come along and tell me that I am not using this word correctly. I defer to your supreme intelligence and say that my only excuse is... well, it sounded good to me). The church at large (whatever that may look like to you) is not the full extent of what our Christianity can be. It is made up of imperfect people, therefore, must be limited as an imperfect grouping. However...

4. Faith does actually equal religion in some respects. Or perhaps they lead into one another? I know better than most, the imperfect nature of the church, and because it is full of imperfect folks, the priorities of many congregations/denominations/communities can become skewed, or misaligned with what others in the community might think is best. And that the church can sometimes be an "institution", with the same self-preserving concerns of other institutions. But I have been a witness to the power of the church community. Both on individual lives, and on the lives of communities. Churches provide community support, food, shelter, water, time, money, education, housing and so much more, to many, many people around the world. And we, as Christians, are supposed to be a part of that. If you are a Christian who snubs the church, then what are you doing to help your fellow man? How do you worship in community or educate yourself about your faith? You can do some of this on your own, but Christian community is one of the most powerful tools around. Think about it. As my, oh so wise husband once told me, "It much harder to change a thing from the outside, than it is from the inside."

5. All Christians are not members of the religious right. (Seriously people - did I really need to say this?) But even members of the religious right, or religious left or religious somewhere in-between(although that does NOT have the same ring to it!) have a right to be a part of the political process. We're trying to change the world, remember?

6. Why are you listening to me anyway? (We do have the best music, though, religionally speaking.... i'm just sayin'....)

play nice, people.



  1. One of the best, and hardest parts of Christianity is the knowledge that while each of us are hopeless sinners, Jesus would have died for any one of us. You. Me. The "ugly" people too. That's hard to grok.

    One of the hardest parts of being part of a church is keeping even a shred of that Christ-like love for others around us, who seem so much more imperfect than ourselves much of the time. :)

    Nice post, Jean. I always enjoy your writings.


  2. Jean
    Love the post and your very insightful comment. However - what does "religionally speaking" even mean?

    Love, Your not so perfect Mom


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