Heather has tagged me in a meme - based on a book entitled unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity...and Why It Matters. I haven't read the book yet, tho Chris and I saw it on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble not too long ago, and he commented (without having read it either) that it was the kind of book that by time you finished reading it, all the information would probably be outdated because the pattern of thought in our culture changes so quickly. I haven't read the book, so I have no informed opinion on either the book or Chris' comment - but I have at least two cents worth of something to say on the topic in general. :)
(btw, if you don't know what a meme is, the definition is here - i had to look it up. i learned three new words yesterday!) :)
Here's the task for the meme: name 3 negative perceptions about Christians, and 1 positive thing Christians should be known for.
side note: (tongue-in-cheek) I think Christians should be known for being more positive. I mean, really - 3 negative things to one positive? And we wonder why people don't like us... but i didn't start this one, so i'll just do the homework...
I would like to state the obvious, tho, and say that my thoughts here only apply to the church as I've experienced it here in the United States. I suspect that a lot of this might not hold up in 3rd world churches, and as such, this is simply a bit of solicited commentary on the church in my corner of the world, and not on the Church universal - the Church, of course, being comprised of Christians.
negative perception #1: Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites.
Yep. Pretty much. We say one thing, but do another; we spout a lot of ideals, but we all pretty much fail miserably at attaining to any of them.
negative perception #2: Christians are snobs.
Yep. We can be.
negative perception #3: Christians are isolationists. (If you're not one of them, you don't belong.)
Again, guilty as charged. We have a tendency, especially in the West, to cloister in our buildings and stick with our small groups and a few friends, and call it good, in the name of stewarding our time well.
What Christians should be known for: in a word - love. But not the frilly, fancy, red paper hearts, sappy valentine type love that doesn't mean anything. Real love. Tough love.
Love that is patient when it could be easily frustrated.
Love that is kind when it could have chosen to be cruel.
Love that isn't envious of the blessings of others even in the absence of blessing to itself.
Love that is humble and quiet, not boastful and self-centered.
Love that chooses to forget the wrongs done to it; love that refuses to stay angry, even though it has every right to be upset.
Love that rejoices with everything that is good and true and right in the world, and weeps over that which is not.
Love that protects fiercely, that trusts unyieldingly even when it doesn't understand, that hopes unswervingly against all odds, and that perseveres no matter what.
Love that refuses to fail.
Love that embraces grace, that extends it, that doesn't give up.
Love that recognizes it can't be earned.
Love that mourns sin and celebrates repentance.
Love that is meek enough - gentle enough - to both hear and tell the truth.
Love that hungers for righteousness.
Love that extends mercy.
Love that is pure in heart.
Love that seeks peace, at great cost to itself.
Love that will not shy away from persecution of any kind, because its purpose is greater than any temporary pain.
Love that is...Love.*
(He is also known as Jesus.)
Christian is a word that means "little Christ." We should be known for being like Him.
But as Christians, we live between two worlds - the world we're leaving and the world we're going to. We are people on a journey, who are experiencing a fundamental shift from who we once were to who we really are but haven't quite become yet. Hence the stereotypes and negative opinions and caricatures that abound in the world among those for whom Love died and rose again, who are either blinded by or haven't seen the Light yet. They don't see who we're becoming. Heck, we don't even see it all the time. But God does, and as we continue to grow, our eyesight adjusts and we begin to see even more clearly than we once did. (1 Corinthians 13:12) And Christ said that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-15) - so it is our responsibility to help people stop seeing spots and start seeing the world around them by His light. Maybe it's our fault that people can't see properly - or maybe God just hasn't allowed their eyes to adjust properly yet to the Light in the darkness around them - but the Light does shine in the darkness, tho the darkness has not understood it - and the darkness will not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
So then, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8
* 1 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 5: 1-12
So, in love, I tag:
Happy writing, my friends. :)