Are we, as Christians, perpetuating our own negative stereotypes?
The other day I was writing a grant for something, and I started to write “We are a Christian faith-based organization, but we are committed to serving all members of the local community, regardless of religious background or faith affiliation.”
Then it struck me, why am I accepting the presupposition that a Christian organization would inherently NOT do this? “But” implies that we’re going to do something different from normal. Normal Christianity loves, accepts, encourages, exercises compassion, is fun! Any other idea is a lie from the enemy.
So I changed it. “We are a Christian faith-based organization, and AS SUCH, we are committed to serving all members of the local community…” (emphasis added here).
Certainly, there is right and there is wrong. There is sin and there is holiness. There is one path to eternal salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. So don’t spiral out on me.
But the fact is that there are very few Christians who hate gay people, who hate people of other religions. Our hearts are for them. We want them to be saved as we are saved. We are not in the business of turning people away because Christ was not in the business of turning people away.
However, there is a vocal minority of so-called Christians who give a very different impression. The media allows that vocal minority to set the terms of every discussion, the media casts that vocal minority as “normal” Christianity. They imply and sometimes state that those are the secret sentiments of all Christians. This is plainly a lie.
And as Christians, we play along with the media’s assessment. When we say “I’m not like regular Christians” (something I’ve said many times), we agree with the lie the media is telling about most Christians, and we empower it.
Let’s change our language. How about we set the terms of the conversation and begin from a place of truth?
When I was writing that grant, the Lord showed me that I don’t have to operate from the conventional stereotype that Christians are bigots and set myself apart. Instead, I can use my language to define a truthful baseline, I can demonstrate what all of Christ indwelt is, and count myself in the body of believers.
Because I am a Christian, I love.
Because I am a Christian, I listen.
Because I am a Christian, I exercise compassion.
And that listening loving compassion lives in me to a higher degree than anything I could ever obtain in the world.
These are things that I am as a result of Christ living in me, not in spite of it! May I never imply again that those indwelt by Christ would default to any other position.
Let those who don’t look like Jesus play defense for a while. Let God be true, and every man a liar.
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Photo at top provided courtesy of Burstein! on Flickr.com (Creative Commons)