I should really stop reading the newspaper. Every time I look through it I see all these articles about how awesome Christians are; how they show love to their communities, how they embrace diversity, and how they are never judgmental of others. It makes me so overly proud to call myself a Christian that I feel like it must be a sin to feel this good.
There are times when I am almost embarrassed to call myself a Christian because people keep screwing up what God made perfect. Even worse, I am one of them. We (all of use Christians) give Christians a bad name. Why? Mostly, because we are people. Some of us are just plain idiots. I won’t point out any specific examples because that would prove my point in a very unproductive way.
Now that I think about it, even writing a post about how we muck up our faith with ignorant hypocritical judgmental selfishness just makes me part of the problem.
OK. New tactic. Diversion.
Jon makes a good point though. We are all new Christians. We are trying to do the best we can. We let our own inability to comprehend God’s love mess up our understanding of what he is asking of us. We let our selfish desires get in the way of really doing his will.
I would say we should have a belt system, like in karate (I do well with belt systems, it gives me something to strive for), but then who is going to decide what belt of a Christian I am? Plus, Christian-Kwon-Do doesn’t sound very cool. Although Christ-Jitzu has a nice ring to it. God-Fu? No. Charate? I don’t think so.
So, what if we all just considered each other White Belt Christians? When my son was a white belt in karate, he was allowed to make mistakes. He could trip over himself and his instructor would gently correct him. He could have his wrong foot forward, or throw the wrong kick and no one would jump on his case. He would get a gentle reminder of the correct way to do it. What if we extended that kind of grace to each other? Afterall, isn’t that what God does for us?
Or is that one of those “easier said than done” things? I don’t know. Part of me thinks it should be that way, but then they other part of me pictures Jesus walking into the temple and “reminding” everyone what the place is supposed to be used for.
Matthew 21:12-13 (NLT)
12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
That’s the kind of reminder I want to give people sometimes. And, that’s the kind of reminder I need sometimes. Sometimes I need a Cobra Kai type pastor who is going to get in my face and remind me what love really is.
Here is what Jon Acuff suggests we should do:
From here on out, when you meet people, tell them you are a “new Christian.” On your Twitter account the bio should read “new Christian.” In conversations, if someone asks, you are a “new Christian.”
Don’t say, “Christian.” I want you to say “new Christian” because you are not done. Even if you’re 80, you have barely begun. If our lives are told against the mosaic of eternity, we are all new. We all have so much to learn. There is so much shaping ahead.
I don’t know. I guess, in the end, my friend M. Rockmore makes a good point when he says not to ask why people do what they do, but rather ask, “Who are these people?” If I took the time to get to know them and learn their story, then maybe I would understand where they were coming from. It might mean they still need correction, but at least they would know that correction was coming from a place of genuine love and not judgmental finger pointing.
But as for me, I’m a White Belt Christian. Someday, maybe I will be ready for the All Valley Karate Championships. Miagi willing.
What are you?