Seems like wherever I walk these days I either get that look or get asked the question:
You’re serious? You’re a Christian?! After all that?
And the answer is and will always be:
Yes. I am.
It got me thinking that why do people believe that you need to be of certain caliber or certain type of person to become a Christian. Is there a disbelief that it's not possible for anyone? Or do people think you jump on the Jesus wagon to shield yourself from the world?
Growing up I heard, “Believe in Jesus and live a moral life = Go to heaven”. Simple enough.
Sometimes I feel that people might have the wrong impression of what it is like being a Christian. Some might think it involves you to never struggle, or for some always struggle, never being allowed to be blessed (i.e. have money) and that you should live like a pauper. Some might think you are not allowed to get angry or frustrated or any "bad" emotional experience and that Swearing, drinking and listening to secular music is a sin.
Let me tell you this. I learn every day. I get angry some days. Some days I am frustrated. Some days I cuss because I am frustrated. Some days I need to hustle to put money in my account. Some days i can listen to anything from Linkin Park to Martin Smith.
It's called being a human being. We are all human beings no matter what your belief or non belief is.
Being a Christian doesn't involve you being a moral Nazi and living by a set of strange rules.
My past is not your past. My story is not your story. However, you also have a past. You also have a story. We all have. Each one is different but we can adapt and change. Dying spiritually and then resurrecting spiritually as a Christian is nothing short of a miracle.
Here I am. Living proof.
For me, being a Christian is not about just being good to people. I know a lot of non Christians doing more good than some people sitting in the front row of church every Sunday. It's about realizing that I, as a person, need someone to save me from myself.
As Ben Sledge mentioned in a post:
Christ teaches that his goal within the resurrection is to transform the world. Not that we convert people to our tribe and wait for God to nuke this place but that we’re in the business of restoration. That we bring hope to the hopeless. That we help the needy, poor, and oppressed. That we give generously, freeing the captives and the addicted. That we transform the world where disease and suffering are alleviated. That we treat others different than us better than ourselves..
No, I didnt become a Christian at an Altar call in church or converted by a missionary in Cameroon or by donating money to a "Christian charity" and all suddenly changed for me.
I became a Christian in a rat, lice and cockroach invested 15 x5m jail cell shared with 60 other people. I became a Christian when my chips were down, I had no more "contacts" to call to get me out of my own mess. I became a Christian when I realized that the only "contact" I never had was God.
Only then, I realized that I am all in. I am now part of them.
So far its been pretty damn cool journey with its own valleys and mountains.....
So, why am I a Christian?
Because I know I’m a train wreck in a dumpster fire. But I also know that God loves me 100% as is, right now, in the midst of the burning carnage that is often my life. I know that if I were to stack up my cards against most church people I’d fold every time.
I’m not that good at following rules and I run my mouth a lot. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure he sees opportunity for growth. Where I see addiction he sees an opportunity to take a step. Where I’ve given up, he whispers, “You can make it”.
So maybe if we can all accept the idea that God’s love is wholly separate from our actions, receive it, and give it to others maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel it’s important to beat people down with their theology and doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people.
I think maybe then, we might just see Christ’s kingdom here on earth.
- Ben Stanley