A few weeks ago I watched the movie “Easy A” with some friends. It’s a funny movie, but like many high school movies, its portrayal of Christians irritated me.
“You’re taking it too seriously,” my friends told me when I voiced my annoyance, “It’s just a joke, everyone knows no one actually acts like that.”
And they’re right; Amanda Bynes portrayal of a snobby “Jesus freak” who disguises her gossipy judgement with “Christianly” concern is certainly exaggerated. It’s funny in its own way. What concerns me is the fact that there are people out there who act like her character (though maybe a bit toned down), and these people have become the face of Christianity.
You know who I’m talking about. The people that hold up signs at the gay pride parade that say things like “turn or burn.” The church in Gainesville that held a Qu’uran burning. The guy who said judgement day was May 21. Our culture thinks of Christians as narrow minded, bigoted and ignorant, and the sad thing is that a lot of “Christians” have given them every right to think that.
On almost any sunny spring day at my school, a campus preacher shows up on campus and starts yelling at students about various things. One day last year one of my friends approached one of the preachers and asked him why he felt like he could show up and judge everyone. She quoted Matthew 7:3-5 ““Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
“Well I don’t have a plank in my eye,” the man responded.
I remember thinking has this man even read the bible? We both call ourselves Christians but we definitely don’t believe the same things.
The problem is not necessarily what it looks like: that these people are “Jesus freaks” that are too devoted to Christianity. The problem is that these people have a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel, which should be the core belief of everyone who calls themselves Christians. The gospel teaches that everyone’s a sinner, that we cannot gain salvation by good works, but only by faith in Jesus Christ, who bore the punishment for our sins and therefore allows us to have a relationship with God. (That’s a very brief summary. Maybe later I’ll write more about it, but it’s not the main point of this article. If you want to know more feel free to message me.)
Now, I’m not saying you have to believe that. You may think it’s complete and utter rubbish, I respect that, but you should know that it should entirely shape the lives of those who actually believe it. If you actually believe that, you can’t think you’re better than anyone else because you don’t deserve God’s grace, you didn’t do anything for it.
I’m not sure if that makes sense, but in any case I just wanted to apologize for the way Christians have presented themselves. I’m guilty of misrepresenting what I believe too. I’m often judgmental, unloving, even hypocritical, and for that I’m sorry. In googling “crazy Christians” (a search which yielded about 20 million results), I came across an article from Relevant Magazine that challenged me because although it is in some extent beneficial to point out “crazy Christians,” I tend to think that I am so much better than them. I judge them and feel superior, and therefore become just like them. Jesus preached a message of unconditional love, and that means loving even those crazies, which sometimes might mean confronting them, or might mean just leading by example and not just ignoring them or shouting them down in front of everyone like I want to do.
So I guess my point is this:
If you are not a Christian: I’m sorry for the way Christians act. We’re not perfect, and we shouldn’t claim to be. I hope that you can understand what real Christianity teaches, and can respect it whether or not you believe it, and despite those who call themselves Christians and then condemn everyone around them.
If you are a Christian: Constantly remind yourself of the gospel, and realize that you’re no better than those crazies who you feel are giving you a bad name. As the article in Relevant says, “The truth is, none of us have it all together. We all struggle with something, and it’s hard enough as it is to be a loyal Christian and follow a path of lifelong righteousness. When we’re tempted to point our fingers and complain to God that our fellow Christians are “doing it wrong,” it’s best to take a lesson from what really matters.”