I am wondering about our public discourse around the naming of someone as a “Christian.” This is on my mind now because of the talking heads that are sounding an alarm that being a Christian is under attack in our country.
Say what? I do know that the fact that public schools no longer offer a sectarian prayer as the day begins is enough fodder for some to say that Christianity is under attack. To me it is clear that a lack of taxpayer support of religion doesn’t make my religion under attack; it does keep it from being favored. And that is okay with me. I’m a big believer in Jesus, and I believe he doesn’t need the U.S. government to hold him up. He got out of the grave just fine without any government interference, thank you.
I don’t pretend to know what happens in every nook and cranny of this diverse nation; I’m sure that occasionally Christians do find themselves having to defend their faith in a situation that is unfair. When that happens, to someone of any faith or no faith, it should not be tolerated.
Here’s what I’ve noticed— and see if you or agree or not– currently, prominent leaders seem to equate a stance against gay marriage with being a Christian. This has happened with all kinds of other things- you’re a real Christian if you believe in creationism, you’re a real Christian if you vote Democrat, you’re a real Christian if you_______, fill in the blank. Right now it’s that you’re a “Christian” because you think gay marriage is wrong.
I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, and the Sovereign in my own life. I know deeply committed Christians who disagree strongly with each other about gay marriage. But they are both still Christians, for St. Peter’s sake! After all, Christian means “little Christ,” and while it was originally a derogatory term, I wear it as a badge of courage and the guide for my whole life. Being a “Christian” tells me everyday how I am to live life abundantly, like Jesus. So to be a Christian means:
feeding the hungry
giving dignity to the poor
offering comfort to the sick
working to relieve suffering for the oppressed
forgiving the perpetrators
loving my enemies
trusting completely in God
making more followers of Jesus
Ya know, like Jesus.
I don’t see anyone stopping me or any one else from doing any of these hard things, the things that Christians do. We’re still at the homeless shelters, we’re volunteering in the schools with kids who can’t read, we’re bringing afghans to the cancer center, and meals to the elderly. We’re holding together the broken pieces for victims of domestic violence and raising money to give people clean water wells. We’re organizing to help refugees and reading our daily devotionals and praying like hell for the world to go to heaven. We’re showing up at worship and showing up at the graveside and still expecting resurrection.
And that, in case the 24/7 cable news cycle has you confused, is what it means to be a Christian.