The depravity of Christianity continually impresses me. The bottom line is that Christians are people, like everyone else, capable of both great love and great evil. And sometimes the two coexist, which should not be but is all too often. Which leads me to the curious question, how do we define a Christian?
In the most general sense, it would be defined as one following the teachings of Christ. But we, as humans, cannot always follow the teachings of Jesus. Sometime today I’ll probably lust after someone, if even for a brief moment, until I avert my eyes. I saw someone run a stop sign earlier and drive carelessly down the road, and I judged him for his poor choices. I was angry with my mother for turning what was a minor misunderstanding into an apocalyptic event.
Where I should not lust, not judge, and have grace, I seem lacking. I don’t necessarily choose the “Christian” way, giving credence to my flesh and narcissism. I suppose that makes me, at best, a bad Christian. I failed today to follow all of Jesus’ teachings, and it hasn’t occurred to me that there’s some sort of bell curve, making 70% or 80% acceptable. The Bible says so itself: if I’ve broken one law, I’ve broken the law.
Then, subscribing to the belief that everyone sins, I suppose there are no real Christians. Unless, of course, we change the rules.
There are, shockingly, people who don’t call themselves Christians. Some don’t believe in a God, some believe in a different God, some define their own God, some are their own God and some just don’t care. And I’ve noticed something of all people, Christians included: we are friends until we’ve been done wrong, then we become enemies. The difference I see in non-Christians, though, is that there is only this or that. We are friends, or we are enemies. And some of the greatest love I have seen is that of non-Christians toward their friends. Also the greatest hate.
Ghandi, for example, was not a Christian. By the “Christian” rules, that places Ghandi in some place called hell, burning and suffering in some eternal lake of fire.
For giving his life to chasing after peace and equality.
So, we change the rules. What would happen if “being a Christian” suddenly had nothing to do whether or not we go to church and “believe in Jesus,” and everything to do with how we treat our neighbor? If our eternity was no longer based on whether or not we simply believe Jesus was the Son of God, but on whether we strive to be like Jesus, choosing Him and His way? It’s indisputable that we don’t see God except through Jesus, but what does that mean?
It seems that Christianity both lessens the hate accustomed to mankind and quells the veracity of our love. We have to show love to everyone, even if we know it isn’t real, and we must guard our hearts. Everything is blurred to live the life we think we’re supposed to live.
Not so with non-Christians. Beer in hand, you’ll learn of all the problems in someone’s life. Give them time and show them you’re interested, and you’ll learn their demons. They aren’t trying to prove they have it all together. They aren’t trying to blur the lines and mask the pain so no one knows their problems. They aren’t hiding their demons.
I went to a church for a long time that would not allow you to say you were sick. They would not allow you to openly discuss the problems in your life. You could not call something by name, for some fear that it would suddenly become real. But it was real.
Another church I went to many years ago would pick up homeless men and women from the local shelter on Sunday mornings, bringing them to church. That stopped rather suddenly one week, because they were cleaning themselves up in the bathroom and making a mess.
There’s another church close by me that has a white church van. On the side of the van is the church name, and next to that, the pastor’s name, in a font almost as big. Then there’s his picture, from top to bottom on the side panel of this van. And he’s standing there, in his perfectly manicured suit and shined leather shoes, holding a bible in front his chest, head bowed, praying.
Christianity is but a masquerade, a house of mirrors to distort reality. It is an institution to condemn the Ghandis to hell, to give men their own vans. To pretend everything is okay. But it isn’t. And maybe if Christians became human beings, our stories might look attractive.
Beer in hand.
Chasing after the right blend of love, grace, reality and Jesus. A new set of rules.