Judge me, maybe.

Good morning you beautiful humans,

            I hope yall are having a most marvelous week! I got to pet a two-week-old foal so my week has been great. He had awkward little stick legs with knobby knees and a teeny, tiny nose and I am in loooooove.

 Ahh, it was the best.

            What I wanted to talk about today besides adorable creatures was the label “Christian.” Not argue for or against, but share a recent experience that made me question if its usage was, in fact, worth taking on the stigma.

            As I was writing my Thoughts on God blog, I felt guilty for not wanting to use the word Christian. Later at church, our pastor shared that in some study done by some person, people associated the word ‘Christian’ with being judgmental, homophobic, and some other negative term (I am aware this is a terrible account of the study, but it’s the general idea). It stuck with me and I felt justified in not wanting to use the label Christian to describe myself either in writing or conversation after all.

            After sharing the blog post, I had several people tell me they had no idea I was a Christian. One of these people was a good friend and another was someone I had lived with for 3 months... Am I so silent about God that two people I’ve spent a substantial amount of time with don’t know I love Jesus?

            These incidents left me feeling conflicted and unsure how to move forward proclaiming Christ without pushing people away before even getting the chance to share how great God is. These were some of the things that kept coming to mind.

  • What I personally think of when I hear people say they are a Christian- I think of people who love Jesus, but assume they judge people who cuss, have too many piercings and tattoos, who look like they may have sex before marriage, and drink alcoholic beverages. If they are over the age of 30, I also think there is a good chance they are unnecessarily aggressive and obnoxiously adamant about voicing their thoughts on gay marriage. An aside on that comment- being a jerk isn’t exactly biblical either, so if you insist on honing in on this one particular “atrocity,” perhaps try a little tact and speak from a place of love, not disgust. I digress.
  • I don’t want people to feel like they have to put on their best face and censor themselves around me.
  • I don’t want to be associated with any of the words in the study.
  • What I do want to be associate with is love, compassion, hope, acceptance, and forgiveness. God is those things. I want people to know that I can love them where they’re at because God loves me where I’m at. He doesn’t say, “Fix yo self and then we’ll talk.” He said bring your mess to me and I will take your burden. I will give you hope and walk alongside you as you get your life together.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30

           When a friend comes to me and shares their struggles, I feel flattered and appreciative they trusted me enough to confide in me. I love them all the more for it! I think Jesus is like that. He’s not afraid of our mess or repulsed by what we’ve done, but delighted we’ve turned to him. Yes, he wants better for us, but first we have to decide to turn to him. When people thought of the word “Christian,” I wish they thought of struggling people reaching out for a God who cares.

Studies show they don’t.

            I’ve always thought the best way to be an ambassador of Christ was by loving others without stipulation (John 13:34-35). Based on lack of awareness by the people around me though, it is clear I’m either not doing this as proficiently as I thought or I’m just generally not living differently than non-believers.

It seems it would behoove me to be more vocal.

            Maybe I should call myself a Christ-follower instead of a Christian to remove some of the stigma. Maybe I should share how great my God is and let people feel awkward until they realize I’m not here to judge. Maybe making someone uncomfortable isn’t the worst thing. Maybe allowing the identification of my faith to be a negative thing is. Perhaps I could claim it and then work to embody the qualities of Christ to change the connotation.

            Let me leave you with this final thought- all you proclaiming Christians & Christ-followers, are your actions in the real world and on social media helping or hurting the image of God?

Much love & non-judgment,

SHEM
 Tiny baby horse with teeny, tiny nose. And mom.

Tiny baby horse with teeny, tiny nose. And mom.

Bit-o'-Fun Picnic

Holy Spirit- Who dat?