To My Non-Christian Friends
To my non-Christian friends. To my Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, or somewhere in between friends. I have some things I need to tell you.
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
We, as Christians, have failed you. We’ve failed ourselves. And we failed our God. And I’m sorry.
A lot of Christians on TV and in the news (and sometimes in real life) haven’t been representing Jesus all that well. We’ve been spewing hatred, saying mean, hurtful things, and genuinely being pretty unpleasant.
We say we’re about love and acceptance, but only on our terms, and only extended to those we think deserve it. We use our rules and our laws to judge the actions of those we disagree with while blindly turning away from the actions of those we support.
And to you, we look ridiculous. Probably a little insane, talking about following a savior who’s full of unending love yet treating those around us so incredibly unlovingly.
Today my husband met a man who, when he found out he was a Christian, said, “Oh wow, I bet you’re super excited about how the election turned out.”
I have no words for how that broke my heart.
Christians are no longer known for following Christ, for loving others or being kind. We’re known for our political affiliations, our thoughts on abortion and our stance on racial, LGBT and gender [in]equality.
So I want to clear something up for you, for the non-Christians who see our “religion” and our actions and beliefs and hypocrisies and scoff (and rightfully so, sometimes). For those of you who see what we do, how we fight amongst ourselves, how we resist social and cultural changes, I need you to know something.
THAT IS NOT WHO JESUS IS.
The real Jesus, the genuine Jesus of the Bible, is nothing like most Christians today. And is nothing like society thinks Christians are.
So here’s the thing about the real Jesus, he’s awesome. Seriously. I’m not going to go into a whole theological rundown of all the things Jesus did, but the real Jesus, the true Jesus of the Bible, he was a rebel. He was a protestor. He stood up against injustice, against oppression, and against inequality.
He stood up against the religious leaders of his day. He hated what the church was doing and how they were treating people and he told them so (and they killed him for it). He worked against the religious and cultural norms of the time. He showed respect and worth to women when no one else did. He hung out with the most hated and insignificant people alive. He did things no one else would even be willing to consider.
He was awesome.
So here’s the deal with Jesus.
God created people. We made some bad choices and things changed (not as a punishment, but because we changed when we screwed up), which created a gap between us and God. But God wanted to bridge that gap. So he literally came to earth as a baby, giving up every authority and power he had, to live on earth as a human. Just a normal human person with the sole purpose of bridging that gap between us and God. And his death and resurrection bridged that gap.
That’s how much God loved us, that the creator of all the things gave up his power and authority to be a fragile, sweaty, powerless, regular human.
That would be like me loving this dinosaur diorama so much I made myself into a plastic velociraptor so I could go hang out with them and tell them what the world is really about, knowing they would all eat me eventually.
I don't love that diorama that much. But Jesus loves people that much.
Between his birth and resurrection, he showed people what love really was, what it means to genuinely love another person and how important it is that we all love each other in that way.
The entire point of Jesus, his entire purpose, was to be the physical embodiment of pure, unadulterated love.
That is literally it.
But unfortunately, that’s not what you see on TV. That’s not what you see in the news. And that definitely isn’t what you see on Facebook. You rarely see a Christian exuberating pure love. In fact, it often looks quite the opposite.
If you love those who love you, what reward can you expect from that? Do not even the tax-gatherers do that? If you say hello only to the people you like, are you doing any more than others? The people who do not know God do that much.
- Matthew 5:46-47
So again I say, I’m sorry. We’re screwing this up real bad. We are literally doing the opposite of what Jesus wanted us to.
So, my dear non-Christian friends, please forgive us. Please forgive me. Even though we don’t deserve it, even though we’ve never humbled ourselves or admitted our shortcomings, please forgive us anyway. Show us the love we’re failing so miserably at showing you.
And please, don’t hold our actions against Jesus. Like I said before, Jesus was awesome and stood for nothing but love. And we’re not representing that well, but that’s on us, not a reflection of him.
Honestly, a lot of what you probably believe about treating people equally and giving people rights and helping the poor and needy, those are things Jesus believes in too. In fact, I think you’d find a lot of what you want to do to help the world is also stuff Jesus wants to do.
But you would never categorize yourself as a Christian, no matter how great you think Jesus is, because of what Christians represent. And I don’t blame you at all for that.
Following the teachings of Jesus has nothing to do with being a Christian at this point, at least not the way Christians are today.* But following the teachings of Jesus have everything to do with loving others, being kind, and fighting against oppression.
Following Jesus means showing gay people they're the same as us, it's showing black people that their lives are as important as white lives, it's giving love and worth to a bunch of single moms and spending time with refugees and making underprivileged kids feel special at Christmas.
That's what it is to follow Jesus. And I'm willing to bet you're already doing a lot of that.
So don’t call yourself a Christian. You don’t ever even have to step foot into a church (although I would suggest Northeast Christian Church in Louisville because it’s amazing and actually represents Jesus and his love in an amazing way, but that's beside the point). But just know that Jesus is awesome. That he exemplifies real love. And that you can be a Jesus follower without being a "Christian."
Please don’t count Jesus out because the rest of us are making him look awful. Read about Jesus, who he really is, what he really stood for, and make your decision based on that. But don’t let the actions of Christians affect your judgment, because we’ve been pretty sucky.
And we're sorry.
*Please don’t get me wrong here- there are TONS of Christians I know that hold the label of Christian but are still incredible Christ-followers who love God and other people with every fiber of their being. But there are also a lot of Christians who have never genuinely followed Jesus in their lives. And those ones tend to be louder.