Qualifying Christ…

Jesus Calls His First Disciples
Matthew 4:18-20

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

“Come.”  It is a simple, open ended invitation.  It is a request for someone’s presence and company.  It may involve a journey of great distances, or the traveler may already be nearby.  “Come” expresses a desire by the inviter to have a companion, to not be alone, to share something special.  “Come.”

Earlier this fall convicted murder, Troy Davis was executed in Georgia for the murder of an off-duty police officer.  Opponents of the death penalty ardently advocated for Davis’s life, arguing that the death penalty is a violation of basic human rights.  They staged protests, marches, social media campaigns, and more in an effort to halt the execution.  In the days following the execution I was involved in several conversations surrounding the morality of what had happened.  In the course of one of these conversations, one of my friends made a very powerful statement along the lines of:  “I question how anyone can be a Christian and not holistically pro-life.”

So what does “being a Christian” look like?  Should a “Christian” look, smell, sound a certain way?  I have touched on this topic in my earlier posts, but I rebelled at my friend’s concept/question.  I began to question what he meant.  I challenged his concept.  I became a aggressive in my defensiveness because the idea scared me.  What if a person has to look, sound, smell a certain way before he or she can become a “Christian?”  What happens when we start qualifying Christianity?

The inherent danger of qualifying  Christianity is that we begin to put restrictions on who can and cannot wear the label “Christian.”  When you restrict, you exclude, and I am not comfortable with excluding people from meeting the risen Savior.  I accept and understand that Christianity represents certain beliefs, and as people who call themselves “Christians” we wear that label with the general understanding that we endorse and support the belief system associated with Christianity.  But I wonder what it looks like to people gingerly dipping their toes into the pool of Christian faith, if we (established Christians and I use that moniker very loosely) tell them how they can and cannot/should or should not believe.  Who are we to say that our searching friends need to have water-wings and a certain swimsuit before they can jump in?  You see establishing a Faith in Christ and growing as a member of the Christian body is a journey of personal experience and exploration.  Each person starts in a different place, navigates different obstacles, and develops a personal relationship with Jesus.  How can we lump all of those very personal experiences into a “You can join if…” qualifying statement?

It is not our responsibility, duty, or job to tell others how they should look, act, or believe in order to be a follower of Christ.  In doing so, we model for “searchers” what exactly “Christians” should NOT look like.  We create an exclusive “club” of believers where if someone doesn’t fit in, they don’t belong.  That is not what Christianity is about.  My savior opened his arms to ALL.  John 1:12 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  Who are we to turn people away because they don’t believe like we do?  Who are we to question someone’s faith based on a singular, subjective belief or ideal?

I am glad my Savior doesn’t judge me based on what I think.  I pray that I can continue to grow in my faith so that I may learn to think more like Christ.  I pray that He takes advantage of my unique experiences to build in me a unique and personal faith.  I pray that we look at others with the eyes of Christ and help them to discover their own faith…one that is as personal and real as the love their Savior has for them.

One Love
One God
One Way

Jason

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~ by archangel66 on November 28, 2011.

One Response to “Qualifying Christ…”

  1. Good post. Interestingly, my Facebook post which precipitated the “holistically pro-life” statement, wasn’t meant to be a reaction to the Troy Davis case. I was merely posting an article by N.T. Wright which I happened to agree with. (Although it is possible Dr. Wright was responding to the events around Troy Davis).

    I do agree with you to a certain extent. I also don’t like putting up barriers to Christ, including cultural ones. (I think ceremonies from other cultures can, and should, be used to give Christ glory). But, at some point there has to be a qualifying metric. We have to be able to define who Christ is and what makes us “Christian”. If not, we run the risk of becoming universalists.

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