“Every wrong that I see in you, God finds in me.”
In addressing the negative commentary many Christians have had about, well, many things, including the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Pastor Roger Hernandez concluded by saying, “Please stop being the type of Christian other Christians have to apologize for.” Oh, c’mon; we’ve all seen them. The type who picket the funerals of fallen soldiers to tell their families they deserved it, the type who promote websites about how much God hates people, the type who point out others’ sins more than pointing others to a Savior, the type who speak critically instead of thinking critically. You know, the type of Christians we apologize for when talking to our atheist and agnostic friends.
[blockquote width=’28’ mark=’grey’]
If my only reference was the comments or actions of professed Christians, heaven is not a place I’d want to be.
[/blockquote]That’s how I almost quit Christianity. I found myself becoming increasingly perturbed at the insensitive attitudes, dialogue, and actions of many professed Christians. Like Anne Rice
, I considered quitting Christianity for the sake of following Christ. I couldn’t agree more with her commentary that “Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.”
In sum, I’d been lamenting what Christianity has become — a sign of closed-mindedness, of disdain, of hating cultures instead of loving God.
I vented to a supportive group of Christians that if my only reference was the comments or actions of professed Christians, heaven is not a place I’d want to be
. Their responses were obviously meant to encourage me, many sharing the sentiment that “true” Christians have a sweet fragrance, much like a rose. I rebutted that I’d rather not call myself a rose for fear of the many thorns who have pricked others in the name of Christianity. That’s when God pricked my heart, as well. If the bible repeatedly tells us to bear with each other, considering others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3
; Rom. 12:10
; Eph. 4:2
), where had I gotten the notion that other Christians were “the type” arrayed with thorns while I was a sweet-smelling rose?
[blockquote width=’30’ mark=’grey’]
What started with my disdain for others’ bad behavior ended with repentance for my own.
[/blockquote]I’ve long believed myself to be a Christian, but I’m certain I’ve pricked many hands while proclaiming I’m just a rose. I’ve yelled at my kids, made rude remarks to my husband, and just flat out disregarded the will of God. Roses have thorns. That’s how I almost quit, but never quite got there. What started with my disdain for others’ bad behavior ended with repentance for my own. This is why I consider “Love the sinner; hate the sin,” to be an unattainable and impractical myth within Christianity, but we can talk about that more next time. The reality is that many of us have a notion of ourselves that we’re not “that bad,” but as Pastor Tullian Tchividjian stated, “A preacher who doesn’t believe he’s that bad will attract people who don’t think they’re that bad. And that’s bad.”
[blockquote width=’28’ mark=’grey’]
Taking lightly the depths of my own depravity takes lightly the depths of God’s abundant grace.
[/blockquote]When we’re not “that bad,” we dismiss opportunities to be better and diminish the necessity of being made new. Ultimately, when we’re not “that bad,” we downplay our need for the grace of God and the cross of Christ. Taking lightly the depths of my own depravity takes lightly the depths of God’s abundant grace. The first step to growth is assessing and admitting where we are. I almost quit Christianity, almost. I’m a Christian. I have thorns. I need grace. Based on the opening quote, I challenge you to consider those faults you’ve noted in others, those things you so desperately wish were not the face of Christianity, and ask God to show you how you have been the same. You’re a Christian. You have thorns. You need grace.