I keep seeing a lot of buzz about Christians being annoyed with stereotypes surrounding them. I think most recently “10 Christian Stereotypes I Hate” by Brett Shoemaker is identifying with a lot of Christians, especially young adults like myself. I don’t want to say his post is bad, because I think it’s good. He makes some good points that I think are all true and we can all identify and learn from. That said, maybe it is the way he and some other writers are doing it that I just wanted to talk about.
So often we are finding that Christian leaders, especially those involved in the good intentioned emergent church movement, are backbiting at the church while in the same breath are arguing for acceptance amongst the world. We need to stop eating our own in hopes that those who are offended by the very notion of sin will accept us. It is not wrong to criticize the church and its methods when it’s needed, but it is wrong when we do it just for the sake of challenging the status qua. At the risk of self-contradiction I would like to speak my mind about how I feel about this, but I do think the scriptures back me up on it. I think many young adult Christians involved in the emergent movement are simply rebelling in a round-about way. They don’t want to break with their religion (and I call it religion because if it were relationship we wouldn’t be worried about what anyone but God thinks about us), but they want to rebel and still call it a good thing. So they bite the hand that fed them and complain about the church and how those pesky “other Christians not like me” are doing it.
If we have issues in the church then lets talk about them, but lets do so in a way that admits you and I are part of the problem. It’s not saying, “sorry for those other Christians who mess up my good name,” it’s saying, “sorry that my Christian brothers and sisters, my family and I, have hurt you,” while at the same time living out the word of God uncompromisingly. It’s taking responsibility and trying to fix the problem (even if we didn’t cause it). We all have a rebellious nature in us, but if we are going to fight then lets fight against the enemy and not each other. I realize that Shoemaker is talking primarily to unbelievers, but at the same time he takes a few subtle potshots at the rest of us believers. There has to be a way to do it that is more constructive than destructive, and a lot less whiny.
Missing the Point
The problem in the church today isn’t the religious structure. It isn’t those old crusty Christians who always make the rest of us look bad. It isn’t being branded by various annoying stereotypes. It’s a lack of purity. A lack of commitment to God’s truth. A lack of unapologetic devotion no matter what consequences that may bring.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. -1 John 2:15
A Message for my Generation
God has a messaged for my generation. The generation that is fed up with hypocrisy and dead religion in the church. The generation that cares so deeply about what the world thinks about them and wants to be accepted by it. You will never be accepted by the world. In fact, despite if you love people the way God loves them, Jesus promises that you will be hated by it if you are following his word (Matthew 5:10-12). So don’t worry about what other people think about you. Just be focused on pleasing your heavenly Father. Yes, many churches are getting it wrong, but they are still your family. When family starts to mess up you don’t disown them. You defend them, you love them, and you set the example and help them through their struggle and you probably suffer in the eyes of outsiders for it– but they are your family, so it doesn’t matter what other people think. Shoemaker is my brother, and I am glad he is trying to set a good example by being loving but I hope he isn’t compromising either for the sake of acceptance.
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. -Proverbs 29:25
Keep it Simple
If you are not sure how you should act and are worried about stereotypes and what people may think of you then just do this. Keep it simple.
Love God. Love others. Concern yourself with what God thinks of you; and don’t be surprised when the world hates you for it.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. -John 13:34-35