I just finished watching a DVD called Lord Save Us From Your Followers. I've been wanting to see it for several years. I bought it nearly 2 years ago from our local video store when it was closing down. And let me tell you, folks...I HIGHLY recommend you watch it. Especially if you call yourself a Christian! The theme of the film is something I am passionate about & wish that more Christians could grasp. (But please understand, I am no saint. I've screwed up plenty!)
The basic idea is that people, in general, don't have a problem with Jesus. They have a problem with Christians. And ya know what? I can understand that. As a whole, we as Christians (especially us American Christians) have a habit of creating division, stirring up controversy, spewing nastiness and looking like hypocrites. If I was on the outside looking in, I'd run from us, too!
But let's look at the Bible instead. How would Jesus handle things? What did He do?
Jesus didn't hang out in a church. He didn't spend nearly as much time building up His believers as He did out serving. He went to where the poor were & ministered to them. He fed the hungry people and helped widows & orphans. He talked to "forbidden" people-- he hung out with tax collectors & prostitutes. He touched diseased people & offered them compassion (and sometimes, healing). He created relationships with the "bad" people & loved them. He forgave them when they screwed up and offered hope & benevolence. He was kind to them & peaceful.
What do we do these days? Well, mostly we stand in judgement of everyone who doesn't think, feel, act & believe just like us. I'm not saying that we should gloss over the differences between us & pretend they don't exist. But if you ever hope to draw someone in, you better stop pushing them away.
A couple of quotes I loved on this DVD:
*We paint the face of God to look however we want Him to look.
*You can tell that you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. -Anne Lamott
On this documentary, Bill Maher was interviewed & he said something that I liked a lot. He said (and I can't find a direct quote so I'm summarizing) "If the people who call themselves Christians would start calling themselves 'Christ-likes', maybe that would help them think about the way they behave & treat people, because Jesus Christ would've never acted like most of them do."
You know folks, as much as I usually disagree with Bill Maher, he's got a strong point there.
I charge you, fellow Christians, to really think about one last thing. I know a guy that grew up in the Bible belt. As an adult, he epitomizes pretty much everything that is opposed to Christianity. His lifestyle exudes a lack of faith in anything...the choices he has made as an adult are totally anti-Scripture. I won't get into the details of his life because it's his story to tell & not mine, but I assure you, he would never "fit in" at most of our holier-than-thou Christian churches. I asked him once if he'd ever gone to church as a kid & he relayed a story about how his parents did when they were newlyweds, but they'd been treated badly & they never went back. And now, in the next generation after that, his life is where it is. Perhaps if he'd been raised in church & come to know God in a loving relationship, his life might be in a different place these days. I urge you to consider your actions because sometimes the ugliness, the judgement, the hurtful things you shove out onto others may create a generations-long division that can never be repaired. If you want someone to know Jesus & understand the love of God, you're not going to accomplish that by being a jerk.
If you want to be like Christ, consider your words & your actions. And like the old bracelets that we all wore in the 90s, ask yourself 'What would Jesus do?'. I am compelled to believe that most of the time, what WE choose & what HE would choose to not line up.
3 years ago