In the past few weeks, no less than four people have told me that I can’t possibly exist. Not even that I “can’t” exist, now that I think about it, but that I DON’T exist.
Yes. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary (surely if I were a mere illusion, I would have less cellulite), it is widely believed that I – and people like me – are, at the very best, an aberration…. some strange fluke of nature that should either be ignored or loudly chastised, but most certainly never taken seriously.
I am a Christian, but because there seems to be some confusion surrounding that term lately, let me elaborate. I am a Christian because I’ve committed my life to God, because I’m crazy in love with Jesus Christ, and because I so genuinely want to follow his teachings. Because I believe in a full, radical, all-in, balls-to-the-wall, pursuit of His love, His grace, and His faithfulness.
But I’m told I’m not really a Christian.
A true Christian can’t have my political leanings. A true Christian can’t be an advocate of gay rights. A true Christian can’t interpret the Bible that way (the wrong way, of course). A true Christian can’t [fill in the blank with your favorite narrow-minded generalization, because at this point I’ve heard them all]
Here’s the thing. A true Christian absolutely can do all of those things, because I’m doing them. I get that it makes other Christians uncomfortable and scared and freaked out and sometimes downright mean as a result …. but that doesn’t stop it from being true. This is my path. For whatever reason, this is the way that I was made. Uniquely, individually, “fearfully and wonderfully” made by the creator Himself.
And while I fully admit to weak moments of anger, moments of indignation (“Who made them the judge and jury on who is and is not a Christian? How DARE they presume to tell me that I’m not really a Christian, just because my Christianity doesn’t look like their Christianity”), I know in my heart of hearts that defensiveness is not the answer. I know that my self-righteousness is nothing more than cloaking myself in a pot in response to their proverbial kettle.
Still, this issue persists, and I can’t seem to figure out if I’m just now noticing it, or if that representation of “Christianity” really is getting bigger (or at least louder). The ones that are casting everyone else to hell. The ones that are telling us all how we’re getting it all wrong. The ones that are all worked up over postage stamps and gay wedding cakes and their soapbox defense of a crass, bearded duck caller. The ones that would willingly let tens of thousands of impoverished kids go hungry in order to prove a point.
The ones that are telling me, again and again, through both actions and words, “You are not a true Christian.”
Well you know what? Their definition of Christian is clearly different than mine. I can’t be sure of much, but this much is true. If being bigger and louder and more obnoxiously exclusive and reactionary is Christianity, then I want no part of it. If being RIGHT is more important than being loving, then count me out.
Because from where I’m sitting, being loving IS the right answer, no matter the question.
I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t want to be angry anymore. If it’s that important to you to claim that the title of Christian rightfully belongs to you and no one else, you can have it. Seriously. If this…. this… CIRCUS is what people think of when they think of Christianity, I will gladly concede. The label is of no importance to me. What’s important to me is what I believe, how I conduct myself, how I love others. Getting upset and splitting hairs over what constitutes a “true Christian” just isn’t worth it, and frankly, is a whole lot of wasted time at a time when we haven’t got a moment to spare.
Showing God’s love
Feeding the poor
Aiding the sick
Comforting the suffering
Speaking out for grace, and peace, and love, and forgiveness….
That’s what matters. That’s what’s worth fighting for. That, and the people who do it……. no matter what you choose to call them.