Thursday, March 6, 2014

10 Things Our Society Believes About Christians

Those of us who call ourselves "Christians" believe a lot of things- often a lot of different things. Our theology and practice can vary wildly depending on many factors. But the world around us often sees us as one group, with definite characteristics that define us all. Over the past few weeks I have had several conversations with "non-believers" about the things that they believe about Christians. I asked them some questions about how they view the Christians in the world around them, and I got some pretty frank answers. The friends I questioned ranged from those who are frustrated with the church but claim to be Christian to atheists, and everywhere in-between. I shared their thoughts with several others who confirmed that yes, they believe this is how much of our culture views those of us seeking to follow Jesus. It is amazing how similar their opinions were to each others- and how close they are to the views of some of the loudest sectors of Christianity itself. I will not attempt to say which are accurate. I will leave that sorting to you, dear readers. But here are 10 ways Christians are defined by those looking from the outside in...

  1. Christians are hypocrites. They talk about being pious and holy and then live lives that are no different from anyone else. They talk about loving each other, but they fight like cats and dogs.
  2. Christians are obsessed with what to do about gay people. You get that idea that being gay is about the worst thing you could possibly do in the eyes of God. In a related conversation, a couple of folks indicated that Christians seem to believe the parts of the Bible that are most convenient to them.
  3. Christians are segregationists. They would prefer a world where they only have to interact with people who think and believe like they do. Given a choice, they want their own schools, movies, books, music and everything else.
  4. Along with #3, Christians love to protest and boycott. They see it as a way of standing up for what the believe, but half the time it seems like random stuff that has no real bearing on the real world. See Duck Dynasty.
  5. Christians are gun-toting, Republican voting patriots who believe that this country is greater than others because God blessed it to be so (my very non-scientific survey also seemed to indicate that they believed that there are just not that many Christians living outside of the U.S. anymore. That of course is very wrong.).
  6. Christians are arrogant. They believe their way is the only way and they are seldom willing to listen to opposing viewpoints, even (maybe especially?) from other Christians.
  7. Christians are pro-life...except when it comes to war, gun control and the death penalty. My respondents (and me too, if I'm honest) find this to be very confusing. 
  8. Christians believe that people should follow the teachings of Jesus, but in practice they seem more committed to following the leadership of pastors. Popes and politicians. One respondent said that she felt like "Christ is too radical for most Christians." Full disclosure: I think she had heard me say that same thing a few weeks ago. But still...
  9. Christians try really hard to be decent, honest and nice people because that is what the world expects from them.
  10. The unanimous #1 answer- Christians are very judgmental and tend to think they are better than everyone else.
That's what my non-Christian friends are saying, and I do believe that it is a reasonable representation of some of the attitudes toward Christians that exist in this society. To my eyes some of them are unfair, some of them only describe certain groups of Christians, and some of them are a recognition of major problems within the church. What we need to remember is that to the world that we profess we are trying to reach with the good news of Jesus, perception is often reality. And I believe this is the perception of many. So I'm curious...what do YOU think of this list? Where are my friends addressing real issues and where are they buying into stereotypes? I will be curious to hear your responses. 

Because of Jesus,

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