The things we say and what we choose to call things matters. The words we use sends messages which are both intended and unintended. The unintended messages draw reactions from others that may not match our sincere desire for relationship based in trust and respect. The result is rejection based in the differing interpretation of the same word.
Two of those words which are certain to draw people towards perceptions and conclusions which may not have anything to do with the way they were intended are “church” and “Christian.” Those words draw a reaction from practically anyone that hears them and the scope of reaction ranges from agreement to disdain. It’s not the responsibility of the user to correct the perceptions of the hearer, in fact, any effort to do so would likely only reinforce the hearer’s beliefs.
“Christian” has become synonymous with many attributes and even stereotypes that were not intended in the original label. The word is intended to communicate an identity rooted in Jesus. A Christ-follower who knows Him intimately and allows Him to live through them.
The only way to allow Him to live in us and through us is to submit to Him in us and through us. That means we die so that He would live in our thoughts, feelings, words, beliefs, actions and the very essence of our existence.
Jesus won’t co-habitate with our Republican, suburban, privileged, comfortable and selfish intermingling of us with Him. Those parts of us allowed to flourish become our best guess at imitating what He should look like in a consumeristic, selfish application at no expense to our agenda. That comes out as judgmental, hateful, intolerant and, most of all, arrogant.
- A Christ-follower chooses to submit to His nature
- That submission welcomes the Holy Spirit to dwell within us
- His dewlling results in the fruit of His presence within us to be on display outside of us
- Those characteristics are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control
- That’s what a Christian looks like when properly played out from the inside-out.
Now, we’re going to mess it up. We just are. Some days we wake up more alive to our crap than to His glory. If we don’t intentionally chase after Him at the expense of whatever it costs to get to Him every day, the slippery slope of compromise becomes our calling card and we become another modern-day Pharisee.