This morning, a friend of mine posted a note on Facebook. In his note, he references L.N. Tolstoy's Resurrection and gives a critique of the blurred lines of Christianity, or as Wikisource puts it, the "hypocrisy of institutionalized church". My friend focuses mainly on the inconsistencies of the actual "religion" aspect of the church, which in some cases (emphasis on some) focuses solely on the legalities and takes away completely from the Divine Relationship itself. While I don't presume to know the extent of my friend's beliefs or the depth of his own personal understanding of Christ, I felt this speak to my spirit regarding those who have been turned off to Christ due to "false witness" from someone who calls themselves a Christian. It seriously ticks me off to think that so many people will never experience the true joy, freedom, and love that is God because of a brother or sister's careless behavior. Now, I might be stepping on some toes here, so I encourage you to read this ENTIRE post so that it can come full circle.
We as Christians, we have a dire responsibility to try our best to "get it right" when it comes to Christ. Not only for God and for ourselves, but as an example for those around us who don't even know the Truth yet and may be looking to us for some glimmer of an example. Yes, I know that we should look to God first for that knowledge and not to man, but let's face it, how many of us, before we learned the truth, sought out the advice or mentorship of someone who already had a relationship with God? Why? Because until we knew the Lord, we needed a tangible reference.
People who don't know what it means to be a Christian are going to look to other Christians first for an example if for no other reason than the fact that it's human nature. How many times do we see people talk about God's love and then turn around and talk crap about another person? Or shun someone because they "don't feel like" dealing with their drama or they think that person is "weird"? Or commit a hate crime? Or just be completely small-minded and ignorant in general? Hello?! I thought the whole point of Christianity was to die to self and stop walking in the flesh.
Of course, we "don't feel" like dealing with certain things...we are human! Our fleshy side doesn't feel like doing a lot of things, which is why we look to God in the first place. He is the one who gives us the strength and perserverance to push through where we as humans do not want to go. Yes, there are times that we need to guard our hearts from those who actually cause us harm, but we can't purposely shun someone for not fitting into our "social circle". We can't just sit back, smack a "Christian" label on our foreheads, say "Ah, well, I'm saved now", and then go back to being a jackass pulling the "saved card" whenever it's convenient for ourselves! For Pete's sake, Jesus even made the effort to save someone while he was flippin' nailed to a cross and beaten to a pulp! You didn't hear him say, "Sorry, man, I just have too much going on right now." We ALL have drama in our lives, but that is why God gave us to each other so that we can relate to each other and lift each other up when we fall.
We sit here and talk about the anti-Christ movement which gives Christianity a bad name, but honestly, it can also be our own sisters and brothers. I'll be the first to admit that I am a heck of a long way from "perfect". Lord knows, I screw up many times and fall short of His glory. My heart is just on fire for the body of Christ to step up and not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.
We will never be "perfect" and that is where His grace comes in, but God intends this not only to be about a relationship with Him, but our relationships with other people. How foolish would it be to ignore that?