Since I enjoy people and getting to know people from all walks of life, I often find myself smack dab in the center of extreme beliefs and values. Even though I feel like this kind of socializing offers me a full, interesting life, it puts me in a place to see severe misunderstandings and unnecessary stereotyping that I can't do anything about.
For example, I am among a group of a dozen or so people teamed up with a dear pastor friend of ours named Matt Randles to plant a church. In searching for a place to meet and worship, we asked the director of the science museum where I work if we could rent the museum once a month. A few of my co-workers were appalled that a church, of all things, would be allowed to meet in museum's space.
What is clear to me is that just the word "church" is immediately equated with religious, right-wing extremists who are at odds with science and live lives of hypocrisy and judgment toward others. The word "church" makes eyes roll and mouths mutter things like "Oh, brother."
When did Christianity become so politicized? When did Jesus' teachings of love become seen as hate? Where did Christians go wrong and how can we turn this screwed up image around?
Christians are just people. And for some reason, human nature leans toward a need for structure and rules and categories. Christianity has nothing to do with this type of organization. But being imperfect people, we have clung to unnecessary rules for a sense of security, I guess, or a sense of control. It's hard to grasp the truth that Jesus has done all the work for us, and we are free from all of this junk. It's too big a gift to totally accept.
In fact, Christianity is the only religion that does not require people to be "good" and earn salvation (in whatever form that may come). Christianity is a belief that we as people will never be good enough to earn anything close to eternal life with God, so He provided a way for us through Jesus.
Jesus said that the most important thing for us to do is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds. The second most important thing for us to do is to "Love our neighbor as ourselves."
Christians haven't meant to be shitty and judgmental. Christians are just people. And Christians are not the only people who are shitty and judgmental. And Christians are so excited to have found Jesus, they want to tell everyone, but it's just too overwhelming to think that He covers it all and we just have to believe and love and use our gifts He's given us.
The outspoken Christians are the type-As, just like the outspoken anti-Christians. So it seems the squeaky wheels create the stereotype.
Christianity, itself, is a beautiful, liberating gift. It's love. Don't get confused by the misunderstandings. People are people. Jesus is life.