Jul 22, 2009

speaking of Christians

I had an intriguing lunch this past week with someone in our church. Not only was the food great, but we even got to sit outside on the patio of the restaurant and enjoy the sun. More importantly, though, we chewed on more than good Mexican food - we chewed on things that really matter.

And some of those things included you.

Granted, your name wasn't mentioned, but the concept of "Christians in general" was. Maybe you know what I mean - we do this all the time when we're trying to wrestle with a concept and need to illustrate how a group of people generally interact with it. Maybe something like this has come out of your mouth even today:
  • Something positive: "Businesses need to be friendlier. Kind of like how at Chick-Fil-A they're always saying, 'It would be my pleasure' at whatever request you give them. Our company is sort of friendly like that."

  • Something negative: "I'm so tired of people just doing what they do for a paycheck. The other day I was in a store and it seemed like every employee could care less at my questions about where stuff was. It made want to leave. People like that drive me crazy."
Get the picture? We so often like to muse about other people, don't we?

So if you were to take part in a conversation about "Christians in general," what sort of statements do you think you would drift to - the positive or the negative?

Let me give you a couple of topics:
  • Bible reading: How would you generalize how the average Christian handles or doesn't handle the Bible?

  • Relationships: Would you say that Christians do a good job at reconciling tensions with others they've had an issue with or are they more quick to avoid having the hard, cleansing conversation?

  • Sharing their faith: What kind of statements might you make about the frequency and quality Christians put into talking about the thing they say they value most - a relationship with Jesus Christ?

  • Church commitment: Would you summarize Christians as being truly committed to their local community of Christians, or would you say they are more consumers about it all - quick to leave if something or someone irritates them?

  • Being real: What is more common in your experience - Christians who feel they need to put on a mask or those who can be the real deal and inspire others with their transparency?

  • Clean slates: Are Christians ready and willing to give clean slates - or are they more willing to remember and look down their nose at others?

  • Theological stretching: Would you say most Christians want to know the bare minimum or are they more interested in adding to their faith knowledge and practice?

  • Open or closed hand: When they talk about following Jesus, would you say most Christians open their hands up to Him in every area of their lives or close their fists on a few things that they just want to keep asking Him for forgiveness on?
Maybe there are more categories to consider, but these were a few we touched base on.

Easy, right? We can all give our quick opinions on those topics.

Only that's not why I write this - here's the real conversation.

Before you utter your thoughts and comments about "them," consider what you're adding or subtracting to this generalization of Christians based on the way you live yourself. I mean, that's the real guts of all of this, isn't it?

As my buddy and I chatted, we found ourselves coming back to that anchor over and over - is the real issue what we think about other Christians, or is the real issue why we feel the need to think things about other Christians.

Is it for their security... or for our own?

Because we all like to feel like we're doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong.

But what if that motive keeps us from ever asking if we're doing it right?

So first, your thoughts on yourself... and then your thoughts on "them."

I think that's how Jesus set it up (and why I think it will be hard to generate many comments on this post that actually follow that format).
"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." (Matthew 7:3-5)

1 comment:

David Moss said...

I just had a "plank" experience recently (at least one that I noticed...but that is another topic). I was volunteering with at a homeless shelter with another man. Part of our job is to help with the supply store - handing out supplies to the clients. My volunteer partner said, "That's not my thing" when it was time to do this so I did it by myself. I immediately had some pretty negative thoughts about him....and also some pretty "I'm the best volunteer EVER" thoughts. Later I found out this man is really just confused and intimadated by the rules surrounding how to hand stuff out....and needed someone to help him out (instead of judge!). Also - later that night the man wrote this in the report we fill out for the staff, "Is it okay for me to put a sheet on 'Bob's mattress - I think it would make it more comfortable for him. I know they are supposed to do it themselves but I'd like to help him." 'Bob' is one of the clients who struggles with some mental disorder. I felt like a schmuck - having judged this man's heart while letting the pride in mine flourish....and almost didn't get to see the compassion he has for serving others.

Thanks for the reminder...'cause I'm one of THOSE Christians. *sigh*