HomeWord - March 1, 2007
About two weeks ago, I was sitting in my “low rent office” – otherwise known as Starbucks – enjoying one of those nice, steaming caffeinated beverages with a little sleeve. I was doing some reading for a series of teachings that we’re going to exploring as a church later in the year. I had my feet up by the fire, scratching some notes, surrounded by a stack of books.
“You aren’t one of those born-again Christian types, are you?”
Let’s be honest. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time at Starbucks, it’s this: more often that not when you get asked a question like this, the asker has a specific concept of what “one of those types” is like, and more often than not, their vision is nothing we would want to be as followers of Jesus.
“Actually, I’m a follower of the Way and the teachings of Jesus.”
There was this moment of silence, followed by a blank look. “Really?!? Okay...”
As I talk with people at my “low rent office,” what I’m coming to understand is that there is this image of what it means to be a “Christian” – an image that oftentimes appears to be quite opposite of how Jesus actually lived.
Try this sometime. Ask some people what they think of when they think of the word “Christian.” Listen to their responses. Words like “judgmental,” “arrogant,” and even “unloving” are things you might hear. Words like “loving,” “accepting,” and “compassionate” are things you will rarely hear. Now ask them why they have that image of what it means to be a Christian. More often than not, the stories you will hear are about those who didn’t act very Jesus-like toward them.
What continually fascinates me is the fact that most people have an image of how Jesus would live in this world. Most people see Jesus as someone who loved and cared for people. They see Him as someone who forgave and healed. Yet most people do not see Christians in this same light, doing the same kinds of things.
The first followers of Jesus called themselves “followers of the Way.” They called themselves this because they believed they were supposed to live “in the Way of Jesus.”
What would happen if, in describing how you and I lived, people, without even knowing it, were describing the life of Jesus? What if we made it our goal as Christians to live up to our namesake? Something like that could change the world, or at least change the opinion of one person along the way. Perhaps we could even begin to redeem the term “Christian” in the culture, returning it to something beautiful and life-giving again.
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What comes to mind when you think about the word “Christian”? Is this image something you embody in the way you interact with others?
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