Another Great Escape

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Christian

I can't take credit for this post really, Headphonaught's post got me thinking. What is it to be a Christian or Christ follower, why people cringe when they hear the word Christian, and why are some Christians crap at doing the stuff?

The general perception of Christians is a pretty negative one. The media rarely portrays them as anything other than quirky, weird or corrupt. The public perception is pretty similar. The wider church doesn't often help itself, church services for animals, arguments over gay clergy, child abuse, the recent 6/6/6 stuff in Holland, etc. Those in the know, know that being a christian isn't like that. There is the odd occasion where the media and the wider church get it right, the Manchester Passion (that how I came into contact with Headphonaught) was pretty good and very well reported on, there's probably more but I can't think of things at the moment.

When I studied at college we looked at ways of describing things by saying what something isn't - there is a term for it but I can't remember it - I thought I'd use that for Christian. This is something that'll take a while, and I'm hoping will generate some thoughts for anyone reading.

Here goes...

Christian isn't:
1) Being absent from modern culture - you get the occasional foray into culture, as I said before the animal services, the attempt to relate to the younger generation by wearing different coloured dog collar shirts, or the shout the loudest, condemn everyone to hell street ministries. Christians are taking on world issues (fair trade, etc) but are neglecting what is important - getting to know you neighbours , going to see the films or shows damned by some, interacting with a culture so that they accept you on a personal level, just being normal will get you a lot farther than quoting scripture or inviting them to church. Living a life that is credible, realistic, transparent and ultimately outward looking is the way forward. Feel free to add your own thoughts.

2) condemning - The street preachers really wind me up. They stand in Worcester shouting hell fire, "turn away from your sins" - you get the picture? For a start, I couldn't think of a more alienating way of communicating - the moment someone shouts at me I switch off. Their energy and enthusiasm could be funneled into something that works more effectively. They just miss the point, yes it is important to spread the message but not like that. I'd love to know how many people become "christian" from that way of doing things. We do have a responsibility to act on issues, but there is a time and a place and a way to do it. Condemnation isn't the way forward -

3) Cheesy - I find vestments hard to come to terms with - it's the men in dresses thing. I know the idea is to show that they're different and a kind of uniform but it's just strange. Something that is so different to what we usually wear - it creates a barrier. Worst, is when there is an attempt to become more (seemingly) relevant by wearing a blue, green or worst still a multi coloured clerical shirt. There's a sandal thing too - we had a visit from the local bishop at school, he had sandals (with a suit) on in the winter - little things make a difference. Worship songs can be way cheesy. Some things have a kitsch value, but to recognised for innovation and relevance christians have to do more than march down the high street at easter or stick a fish on their car.

That'll do for now - feel free to comment, even you lurkers, what christian trait is sometimes a hinderance?

2 Comments:

  • My thought on this is that as Christians we need, indeed must avoid "hating" other people.

    Christians should be defined by love not by hate.

    If God loves someone then who are we to hate them or despise them?

    It is relatively easy to love people we are close you. And it is easy to love strangers. But what about the people who rub us up the wrong way? Neighbours or car drivers who play their music too loudly and disturb our peace? When they light a bonfire using cut grass on a hot day? When they lie and deceive? When they abuse children?

    As Christians, we are called to love, not hate. But we are called to love the person, not the behaviour. It is unloving not to challenge wrong behaviour, unloving not to seek to sort out problems and conflicts when they arise.

    If we love someone it is worth spending the time sorting out problems when they arise. And in doing so we may well find that our impressions or understanding is wrong. By challenging, we are giving the other person opportunity to respond.

    We are called to love, not to hate.

    JG

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:30 PM  

  • Thanks JG for your comment. I totally agree that you should define Christians by love not hate but there are things that can hinder a persons relationship with the christian faith. Some are physical barriers like the ones I described and some are emotional barriers. Sometimes Christians are seen to hate things, this is a barrier also to people getting into the faith. Are there any physical barriers that you find hard to deal with or get on your nerves?

    By Blogger Rocky, at 4:28 PM  

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