It seems to me that those of us who call ourselves Christians have a tendency to do things and say things which are inconsistent with the label and faith we’ve chosen. In the process, we’ve created significant and unnecessary confusion about the meaning of Christianity, and the character of the one upon whom our faith is based.
It’s interesting that, if the things we profess regarding the basics of our faith are true – the divinity and character of Jesus and the authority of the Bible – we have to acknowledge that we are intended to be representatives of Jesus, and that he expects his message to be delivered to everyone through our words and actions.
Frankly, we mess this up fairly often, and I think it’s done some damage to the good name of Jesus, not to mention the diminished credibility of those of us who wear the label. In fact, if you do a little research, you can easily find survey statistics indicating that people like Jesus, although they are confused about who he is and what he’s done. He’s made a good impression on history as an individual. The same surveys will also tell you that people generally do not think very highly of us Christians, or the churches we attend.
I could probably cite a volume of examples here from my own experience to confirm this point, but specific examples tend to become the focus of defensive efforts. If specific issues can be defended successfully, countless others stand in line behind them, and surely we would exhaust ourselves trying to defend them all.
Suffice it to say that we seem to be misguided – not all of us all of the time, but all of us at some time or another. Frequently, our own self-centered agendas and small-world perspectives distract us from the real value of our lives, both for the sake of Christ and those we have the potential to influence. We are likely to be selective about the scriptural principles we emphasize, accentuating those that highlight our strengths and ignoring those that would risk exposing weaknesses.
We expend enormous effort, and the money to support it, to expound on the ideas that are lofty, comforting, and self-exalting, while self-sacrifice, humility, and generosity are discussed as if they are necessary evils. We preach and apply Jesus’ words cautiously, seeking interpretive loopholes to free ourselves from the sharpest points. We often follow those expressions with simplistic answers to complex questions, sidestepping the counterpoints with boisterous calls for faith without questioning.
It’s funny to me that while I write these thoughts, I’m reluctant to continue, knowing that people will believe I’ve become a cynic. They’ll say that things are not so bad; that we’re not so bad; that I just need to get out from under whatever has me down. I’ll be bold enough to protest those voices I’m imagining by saying that I really think it’s probably worse than I’ve described, and I think that if we’re all honest we can be unanimous on this point. I’m not losing hope at all, and I don’t really believe I’m cynical, but I want to be objective and honest.
It will be interesting to see how Jesus overcomes our weaknesses, how he repairs any damage we’ve done or will do, and how he makes good on promises and commitments that often seem broken and forgotten. We can be sure he will.
I am a Christian. I love Jesus and desire to follow him well. I love Christians. I love people who don’t like, much less love, Jesus or Christians. I’m sorry for what we’ve done wrong in the name of Jesus. Yes, please consider this an apology and let me know if I can do anything to express that tangibly toward you. I have hope that Jesus will overcome and make things right, and I’m trying to commit myself to help him.