The other day it struck me how uncomfortable I am referring to myself as a “Christian,” which is somewhat concerning since I consider myself “Christian.” I began to reflect upon why I feel this way and several reasons came to mind. None of the reasons I came up with; however, should have any affect on my identifying as Christian and all of them actually diminish everything Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.
One reason that came to mind is the negative connotation this world has placed upon the Christian moniker in general. Somehow, over the years,”Christian” has almost become synonymous with hate and bigotry, which is actually quite the opposite of what the Bible teaches. Although there are definite instructions on how we should and should not live our lives and what is and is not acceptable in the eyes of God, we are not taught to be hate-mongering bigots. I understand that, just like with any religion or political platform, there are those who take teachings and beliefs to the extreme, but I can assure you these extremist wackadoos are a gross misrepresentation of the Christian faith.
I’ve also noticed that many non-Christians seem to expect perfection from Christians. That’s quite an expectation – I don’t want anyone assuming I don’t make mistakes just because I call myself a Christian. Yet, the moment someone of faith stumbles, whether they are well-known or not, you can expect an onslaught of criticism and ridicule. If we look for perfection in any human being, we will always be disappointed. Christians make mistakes, constantly, and will continue to do so because we are only human. The difference is, if we are truly (**Churchy Terminology Alert **) convicted, there is typically a season of correction and consequence for any action that is contrary to Biblical teaching. This will not make sense to someone who believes, “It’s my life, I’ll do what I want.” Fair enough. But, when a Christian does wrong, the end goal is to stop doing it because we know it is not what God wants from us. We know he expects more, not perfection, just more. Again, there is no such thing as a perfect Christian or non-Christian person on this planet. We would all be wise to remember Jesus’ words when he addressed the crowd who asked if they should stone the woman caught in adultery : “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7, KJV)
Although these reasons contribute their part, the greatest reason for my discomfort seems to come from my own brain. I constantly feel inadequate, like I don’t quite measure up – almost as if I am condemned – too far gone for forgiveness and salvation. If you are a Christian you know this is wrong thinking on my part for “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17, KJV) Returning to the adulteress mentioned above, Jesus also said more or less the same thing to her: “…And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11, KJV)
In addition to this self-condemnation, I have a bad habit of clinging to past transgressions even after seeking forgiveness. I am almost like a hoarder of past sins. Again, this is contrary to the teachings found throughout the Bible that remind us God does not remember our sins; he forgives and forgets:
“I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Isaiah 43:25, KJV)
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)
Still, sometimes, there I sit in the quiet, recounting every horrible thing I’ve done. There probably isn’t a sin I haven’t committed, apart from stealing. And murder. I’m fairly certain I haven’t murdered anyone. (Surely I would have remembered.) Let me just say, if my thoughts, memories, and past were somehow projected from my brain onto a big screen, laid bare for everyone to see, I would be left feeling very embarrassed and ashamed. I’d probably feel the same way if my Internet browsing history was ever exposed! (I’m a very curious person with a tendency toward the morbid and insomnia. You find yourself searching some pretty odd things when you have trouble sleeping.)
Then, there’s also the fact that I KNOW my personality in general can be very trying on those around me. I am not an easy person to live with. I am not very forgiving at times. I sometimes find my fellow man and womankind tiresome and annoying; a feeling which I’m sure is reciprocated. I am selfish. I can sometimes anger very quickly, usually to my own detriment. I can become unexpectedly jealous and quite moody. I am prone to bouts of depression. I have been known to participate in office gossip. I still drop the occasional curse word. Sometimes I watch TV shows that I probably shouldn’t. I still struggle with doubt. I have been called a cynic (though I prefer the term “realist”). I know, I sound like a real doll, right? Well, believe it or not, God still sees something in me worth loving. Despite the fact that on the inside I feel like the picture of Dorian Gray, HE still sees potential. This concept is difficult for my tiny human brain to comprehend. How could this possibly be true? Because the Bible tells me so. Again, God is NOT the author of condemnation. He is not the author of the lies we believe about ourselves. He does not store up our past deeds to use against us at a later date. God knows us, the good, the bad, and the ugly and he still wants to love and accept us as his own. This is great news for a
wretch Christian like me.