Name the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “Christian”.
Last night I had the opportunity to hear Gabe Lyons, founder of Q Ideas, co-author of UnChristian, and author of The Next Christians, speak to Multnomah University students about Christian faith in current culture. Lyon’s research lists the top six responses from church outsiders, ages 16-29, when asked, “What is your perception of Christianity?”
Sheltered (out of touch with reality)
Proselytizers (not genuine)
You can imagine my embarrassment identifying with a group of people displaying these stereotypes. “Anti-homosexual” the number one perception? That makes me want to vomit.
Look again at the above list. When did Jesus ever give reason for these perceptions? Hint: He didn’t.
In my almost-43 years on this planet, I’ve viewed Christians in this light. Yet, my faith in Christ never wavered. I couldn’t understand the disconnect.
Gabe Lyons’ talk helped me to make sense of it all.
So often our faith representatives concern themselves with “The Fall” (our sin) and “Redemption” (accepting Christ as a savior). But what about the rest of the story?
We hardly talk about the beginning; the Creation of us. The love God poured into this earth, into his creatures, into you and me. Perfection.
Christians talk about the sin. Oh, how they talk about the sin! The mission becomes all about “getting saved” from sin by praying a prayer, outward symbols, and inward conversions. But there’s more…
After creation, after the fall, after the redemption, there is restoration; learning from Christ’s teachings and actions in order to love our culture into wholeness.
Jesus never made himself stand out by proclaiming without action. He entered relationships. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, encouraged the poor. After he did these things crowds would gather. Then he would discuss spiritual restoration.
Critiquing and condemning accomplishes nothing but apathy and negative attitudes. I don’t want to be separate from my culture, I need to be a part of it. My heart will remain true as I follow this scripture:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15,16
Read Gabe Lyons’ essay, Influencing Culture, here.
How do you label your faith?