I’ve been thinking about this question for a while…what kind of Christian am I? what kind do I want to be?
There are many voices in our news today, loudly declaring their Christianity. But most of those voices do not reflect the kind of Christian I want to be. They seem to me to be hypocritical voices…proclaiming Christian values, but living otherwise. They proudly proclaim they are supporters of family values…while often they are on their second or third marriages…or have been caught exchanging sexual messages with someone other than their spouse. They loudly proclaim that women must have the babies they are carrying–regardless of how the child was conceived or whether the mother’s health is at risk–but cut programs that would help that child and parents after birth.
These same voices also seem to say that their religious values condone discrimination against those who are different…whether that difference is racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, political. They promote religious freedom–as long as what is desired agrees with their own understanding of religion. They fight against the declaration of “religious law” while not seeing the irony found in their desires to proclaim their own understanding of religious law for everyone.
If this is Christianity, then I am not a Christian. However, I am a follower of the one who was called the Christ.
There are a number of reasons. Perhaps the simplest is that I was born into this tradition…but that would not necessarily keep me in it. A more important one is the spiritual experiences I have had that have led me to this Jesus and the way he allows me to see God.
And a third is that I have seen–and read of–Christians whose words and actions match. Perhaps the best example I have seen are the Christians of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. For four years–from 1940-1944–these people, who would have had every right to turn their backs, instead provided refuge for about 5,000 people who otherwise would have been killed because they were Jewish. This wasn’t just one or two people who did what they thought was right…it was an entire community. If even one person had spoken out of turn, the entire community would have been destroyed. Instead, thousands of people were saved.
That is the kind of Christian I want to be…one who sees others through the eyes of love and acceptance rather than of fear of differences. I want to be the kind who lives out what this Jesus said when he was asked what the greatest commandment was.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. (Matthew 22:37-40 The Message)