Wait. Can we talk for a second?
What makes someone a Christian? We could have different perspectives on this, but I think most would agree that a Christian is someone who seeks to know and love God, and accepts His grace through Jesus. That’s a Christian at the core, isn’t it? Do we agree there? If we do–
How do we make sense of these statements that so many of us make?
“He says he’s a Christian now, but he still swears all the time.”
People said that about an actor earlier this year. He had just declared himself to be a Christian, after a long internal battle ending in an encounter with God– and we weren’t rejoicing with him. We were telling him: “Not quite yet. Change your vocabulary first. Christians don’t talk like that.” We missed out on joy.
“He says he wants to be like Jesus, but he doesn’t seem to care too much, because Jesus definitely didn’t live the way he’s living.”
People have written entire articles based on that statement after reading a recent interview with a huge celebrity. We weren’t excited that he was seeking to emulate Jesus in His life, or that he believes in the power of Jesus to forgive and transform us, or that he just blatantly shared the gospel with an infinite number of people who adore him and read his interviews. All we saw was that he isn’t perfect yet.
Because we have it all figured out?
“You want to be like Jesus? Well, I’m sorry, but you aren’t,” we said. Forgetting that we aren’t, either. Forgetting that we’re all in different spots on our journeys, and deal with different struggles at different points in time, and that love and grace are what make us who we are.
“She talks about Jesus, but she also dresses immodestly pretty often.”
I said this. About a musician I didn’t even know. I didn’t focus on the positive messages she shares through her music and on social media, and I didn’t see her as a person. I just looked at her clothes and decided I knew the contents of her heart. And I am so ashamed, and deeply sorry.
When we say, “They’re not a Christian because _____,” we are saying that something other than the love and grace of Jesus makes us who we are.
That is in direct opposition of the gospel.
The gospel tells us that our identity lies solely in the redemption we’ve been given through His love. Our identity as beloved children comes from the fact that He loves us. “They’re not a Christian because _____” tells us that our identity as beloved children is dependent on our behavior. Dependent on us.
And I don’t ever want my interactions with anyone to become a vessel for that false gospel.
If your theology is different from mine; if we don’t think the same way concerning social issues; if your lifestyle is unlike the one I live– our Savior is still no different. Christ came for all. If you know and love Jesus, we’re siblings, and I love you right where you are, the wholeness of you. And so does He.
May we never forget who we are.