I’m on a documentary binge, and I’m watching this documentary “Jesus Camp” which I mentioned last time. And my roommate is freaking out and saying negative things about Christians or those people in the film. And I have a church group coming to my house in 3 days; she’s repeating that they better not be like those people in the film. Ha ha! Don’t you love the tension.
I dated a girl once who introduced me to a friend of hers. This friend knew I was a Christian of sorts and the first thing she asked me was why I was a Christian. “I mean, when I think Christian I think judgmental, hypocritical, and self-righteous.” Man, what do you say to that? Aren’t you glad that the history of this religion of which I’m a part (of sorts) is filled with a tension, so that it’s not just known for the Crusades, witch hunts, slaveries and slave trades, wars, apartheid, Nazi movements, etc. but it’s also known for the abolition of slavery, the abolition of child labor (in many places around the world), St. Francis of Assisi, Jesus (pre-Christianity), liberation theology and Oscar Romero, redistributive principles, etc. That tension is palpable anywhere and everywhere and ever present in the religion of which I’m a part. To deny it is to cut off any chance for real dialogue for you’ve no where to start with someone different than you. Plus it probably means you have specks in your eyes. So daily, I wrestle with God (Israel) as what it means to be a Christian or Christ-follower in a world that feels hated by such and in a world that is loved by such (I won’t talk of proportions).
I have a very beautiful friend named Jeannie living in South Africa. She recently became more beautiful as she has worked to blossom more, care less about what others think of her, be embarrassed less, and just live and love. She asked me once if I was an “evangelical Christian.” The problem with the term is that there are a few meanings especially as you travel around the world, but yes. I know she probably took this to mean that I am trying to proselytize and convert people to a new religion but I didn’t bother explaining or correcting or challenging or conversing about it. I just said yes. The problem is if you try to convert me, I’m pretty resistant. I feel it when I talk with Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses (ok this isn’t true; I LOVE to dialogue with these people that share a similar book with me but originally when I was younger I didn’t look forward to it always). It’s the same way with Christian people trying to convert. I have tons of Pentecostal and charismatic Christian friends who talk about who they have reached hundreds for Christ themselves on the power of their prayer or through the power of reading the Bible or through the power of the Holy Spirit when they speak. I’ve never had that happen to me. In fact, the few people who have “become Christian” didn’t tell me when they decided to do it. For them, it was a gradual process. They told me I was a part of the influence that led them in that direction. And most of them never had deep conversations with me about it (meaning it wasn’t due to my words or some deep intellectual battle). They watched me, they interacted with me, they were loved by me. I guess people talk about the Word of God so much they forget that the Word of God isn’t real or formed until it is performed; otherwise it’s just words. Anyway, actions will speak louder than your words.
What I mean to say is that I’ve never seen people repulsed by Christians who follow Christ, they way I understand his words and teachings. That’s a different thing. People always seem to love those Christians, or people are unnerved by them and unsettled from constant hate or hurt.