Let me add my two cents to this fun topic of Christians and their perception in the media and elsewhere. The conversation started because I was hurt by the fact that people could yell hateful names at Christians. The fact that they could yell these things just shows that we aren’t doing our job.
I’m not looking for positive portrayals of Christians in the media. I don’t know if that will ever happen. I’m not looking for the public face of Christianity to get it right, because they rarely ever do. I’m looking for Christians to go out of their way to love other people, especially those who aren’t like them. I am looking for Christians to accept them unconditionally and show them real honest, no strings attached love.
Because you see if Christians were doing that then there would be no way that these people could shout “bigot” and “hate” and other such things at Christians because they would know that contrary to what they see on TV the Christians who they have met show them real love and are willing to serve them sacrificially. If the Christians that they met were willing to accept them as the flawed people that they are (and that we are too) and love them with an unconditional love, then they couldn’t stand there with signs because even though some of the guys on TV were filled with hate all of the “real-life” Christians they had met were filled with love.
That is the call of Jesus, not to try to change public opinion by yelling louder than everyone else. Isn’t it funny that Jesus never once tried to overthrow the Roman government or change the pretty messed up state that people were living in at his time. Instead he reached out to individuals and transformed them by the power of His love. That is our mission, not to topple government from the top down, but to change society from the bottom up. To reach out and reclaim this place one nation at a time.
Of course that is a whole lot of half coherent rhetoric, but it doesn’t really answer the hard questions, and following God is full of hard questions.
How do you love someone unconditionally but also show them that some of their choices are destroying them?
How do you stand for the truth and be uncompromising in integrity and still have a voice to sinful people?
How do you stop being blinded by your own life and your own myriad of problems and see the needs of others?
How do you step outside of your ME-centric world and start giving away your life to those around you?
How do you know where to start?
How do you protect your influence with others when you spend all of your time hanging out with the very people that most of your Christian friends think are the enemy?
How do you go to someone who has been oppressed by Christianity and by stupid church people for most of their lives and explain that yes you have the same name, but you don’t have the same God as those people?
How do you tell people that Jesus loves them, no matter what until you are willing to love them, no matter what?
How do you fund initiatives that can really reach out to people instead of things that make the church prettier?
How do you break out of years of fundamentalist dogma that has turned become a Christian into some sort of 5 step program that is all about us instead of a mysterious and wonderful relationship that is all about Jesus?
How do you help people to know that they are saved without putting it in easy to understand terms and cool illustrations?
How do you tell someone about the love of God in a way that they can understand without showing them love that they can feel?