Embarrassing Christians

Some Christians really embarrass me.

I mean, really embarrass me.

They call Hollywood “HELL-ywood” and refuse to believe there’s anything redemptive about art that doesn’t somehow include an altar call. They insist that voting any way other than far-right Republican is as good as renouncing the Holy Spirit. They practically compete with each other to see who can be the most over-spiritual about the most mundane things, and then they scold anyone who doesn’t over-spiritualize the same things they do.

Sometimes the embarrassment I feel boils over to frustration. In these moments, I hate that I have to share the name “Christian” with folks like this. All I want to do is disown them and point people to what “true believers” are really like, but just when that frustration is about to reach its peak, a simple question settles me back down:

What if these guys are as embarrassed by me as I am by them?

I mean, I do have a big, gaudy tattoo. I worship Jesus best to guitar solos and noisy drums, and I don’t think the entire Christian faith would come crashing down if someone could definitively prove that people evolved from apes.

What if, while I see some Christians as old-fashioned and narrow-minded, those same Christians look at me as weak-willed and too eager to incorporate elements of worldly culture into my faith?

I have no doubt that some Christians see me that way – or that they would if they got to know me – but the thing about Christianity is that neither one of us gets to disown the other. As much as I want to say, “That’s not what real Christians are like!” – and as much as other Christians may want to say that about me – neither of us gets to say it.

Why?

Because real Christians aren’t defined by their blind spots. Real Christians aren’t defined by the sections of Scripture they overemphasize.

Real Christians are defined by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.

I don’t care if you think it’s wrong for women to wear pants or if you picket funerals because you think that’ll shock people into believing the way you do. If you’re putting all your money on the risen Christ to set you right with God, you’re my brother.

Yes, truth and sin still matter. Yes, we need to hold each other accountable. But I don’t get to disown you for experiencing this faith differently than I do. I’m stuck with you.

It sucks, but it’s also kind of beautiful.

Because it means you’re stuck with me, too.

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7 thoughts on “Embarrassing Christians

  1. I just read your post to Grandpa, and he said “I like that”. Good job, Taylor…your are a thinker!

  2. Sorry for the typo. Take the ‘r’ off of ‘your’ and the comment will be grammatically correct. Don’t tell anyone that I’m a linguist.

  3. Your grandmother often puts your stuff up on Facebook and when I see it, I always read it. This latest one has some interesting thoughts…but I’m not sure that I can see your point when it comes to “people who picket funerals”. You must be referring to the Westboro folk, how any Christian or anyone who has knowledge of basic Christian theology (whether you agree with it or not) can believe that folks like this are “counting on the risen Christ” to redeem them…well, I think that flies in the face of anything/everything that Christ was about. And let’s say that you might believe in evolution….there will be plenty of Christians who would simply believe that your view on that puts you right outside the pale of orthodoxy and that in fact you are “not” a Christian and they aren’t “stuck” with you.

    If I’m a believer…I would certainly be under no illusions that I’m “stuck” with folks like the Westboro Baptist people. But then again…I’m not sure anymore that I’m a “believer” in the way that I was brought up to be. So little of that life bears any resemblance to what the Christ appeared to emulate in his life.

    • Hey Ian! Those are some great points.

      Honestly, as much as I want to say the folks in Westboro (or any other “angry shout-y” church) are outside of Christianity, the interviews I’ve seen sound like they do hold to the very core of the gospel – that they have no hope at reconciliation aside from the blood of Jesus. They actually had some representatives do an interview with Russell Brand on his talk show a while back, and it was interesting to see a little inside what they believe they’re doing. Unsurprisingly, it eventually veers off, but I felt like, for the first time, I saw what they were trying to accomplish. I completely disagree with how they go about accomplishing their mission, but I can at least see where they’re coming from. So do they do a good job living up to the commands of Jesus? No, but I wouldn’t say I do either. We just sin differently.

      For the record, I do still favor a literal seven-day creation reading of Genesis 1, but I don’t believe that particular interpretation is required to be a Christian. I understand this – and probably a few other views I hold – would put me outside of what some people consider Christianity, but I guess that’s my whole point. How are we defining Christianity? To me, a Christian is someone who believes Jesus is God and who trusts in his substitutionary death and resurrection for the forgiveness of his sins.

      We all fail in different ways, both in action and in doctrine, but the grace of God is all-sufficient.

      Again, really appreciate your thoughts, Ian!

  4. And that is where I no longer believe the same as the christians I grew up with I suppose. We were brought up to believe that as long as we do that “magical thing”….we believe Jesus is God and trust in his substitutionary death….etc, that it’s all good. Frankly, I don’t believe in that gospel anymore. It allows people like you to empathize with the Westboro people and imagine that there are some redeeming features there. You might want to read up on the family members that have left that crazy cult. I don’t mind the “jesus is god and trust in his death and resurrection” stuff….but to allow anyone who can just repeat that mantra to also do everything under the sun that goes against the very basic teachings of christ to not be accountable for their actions…? And yes, of course you will say the obvious…we all are sinners and we are no better then they…etc. Which makes me think the whole thing is nothing more then smoke and mirrors.
    Good discussion though…I enjoy reading your thoughts.

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