I was having dinner with a friend a while back. We were discussing how film school was pretty much killing us, but then again, that’s the price you pay for an interesting life (as I once overheard). However, as the conversation continued, we moved towards talking deeper about life. And then, my friend said something to put a wedge in the entire meal:
“I’ve never met a Christian like you.”
When I heard that statement, it surprised me. While I brushed it off and carried on the conversation, I kept coming back to their assessment of me long after we had parted ways and retired to our respective homes. As I ruminated on it, I finally realized the deeper meaning behind what my friend had said.
If I have offended you, then okay. I offended myself at first, but think about that for a second. Something must have happened in the past to induce a statement like that from my friend, something to do with Christians behaving in a certain way that polarizes me to a different side of the spectrum – or to a different solar system entirely.
I am a bit more blunt with my words, but I like to think that my honesty is posed for another’s benefit. That even though I criticize or speak harshly, my intentions are to help you with your decision, and to ultimately listen and invest in you. (If I can work the Gospel into the conversation, that’d be nice as well.) I don’t want to lie and lead you astray – that’s just being a bad friend. Sure, there’s probably a lot to be said for my tact or manners, but if I see that you’re about to go skydiving without a parachute, I’m going to say something.
However, going back to my hypothesis, this is probably not the case for the Christians that my friend encountered. Either ulterior motives or a lack of earnestness, something probably came off as incredibly fake or unappealing. This doesn’t speak for all Christians, as I know plenty that are the kindest people inside and out no matter what, but it is concerning to pontificate and uncover supporting evidence. While there are a multitude of reasons you could split hairs and count into eternity, I find it’s two things:
1. Too concerned with evangelism.
To boil down the Gospel and Christianity is kind of blasphemous, but the gist is that humanity has fallen short of anything considered good, and we needed God to come down in human form through Jesus to make right our wrongs (because God is just as much as He is loving, which is a discussion and debate for a later time for Calvinists versus the hippies). As a result, the mission of Christians is to love God, love your neighbor, and spread the Gospel.
In my opinion, it should be a balanced effort on all three prongs, not in the sense that they should be half-assed, but given equal perseverance. However, people get too focused on the Gospel-spreading that it comes up thin and unsavory, like chaff floating in the wind. If you’re going to spread the Gospel, it should be under the pretense that you genuinely want this person to come to Christ. By that line of reasoning, you should be their friend, that through highs or lows, you as the Body will support one another.
A side note on friendship: I know someone who I considered a friend, but for some reason hated hearing about my problems. In fact, they thought that it was a damper on the mood, and that I should not project my insecurities toward their direction. Don’t be that person. That’s not friendship. That’s a one-dimensional relationship based only on good vibes.
If you start with the intent of spreading the Gospel first, then it’s going to come off as judgment – like many “holy yellers,” who are the most unappealing people in the world, even if they are scripturally correct. It’s not supposed to be a race; it’s supposed to be a relationship (you heartless idiots). In this extreme case, it should be better to just live and let live, which brings me to my second point:
2. Not concerned enough with evangelism.
Yup, this is going to be about balance.
As a Christian, if you’re just looking for a good time, you’re doing it wrong. Really wrong. You’re inadvertently saying, “I’m the most important, and if your interests align with mine, then we’re good.” A load of pretentious, selfish bullshit. If you’ve gotten anything from Christianity, it should be this: it’s not about you.
I’m not saying that you’re insignificant, cause that would render all of Christianity as moot (and then we’d be on a real existential tangent), but if you’re going to evangelize, you’ve got to realize that you’re not the point of focus, and neither is the other person – who is hopefully your friend. You can introduce the Gospel, but it’s really the Holy Spirit that works to change your friend.
But if you’re going to do nothing – since you’re thinking about taking that next vacation to Antelope Canyon for that perfect Instagram picture to tell your friends, “I’m #livingfolk” – then you might as well strap on a reverse bear trap mask on you and your friend and start the timer. Sure, you should have excitement and fun (and you will eventually have to do work for really shit pay, millennials), but if that’s the whole of your existence and you still call yourself a Christian, then you should just refrain from calling yourself a Christian for the remainder of your life.
I am being judgmental because it’s just so frustrating to see people on both sides of the extremes, and still identify as Christian. It gives public perception of either radical ideologists, or basically a badge that you can take on or off whenever you please. (It is most definitely not a badge, cause there are people dying for their Christian faith.) While it shouldn’t matter to me since God is still sovereign in the end, it matters because now I’ve been shoved into one camp or the other. And I’m not one camp or the other. I’m both camps, and no camp. (I hate being campy.)
I am a Christian, and I’m also a huge-ass failure. I suck at life, and I’d like to apologize if my sucking at life has made your life suck as well. And if you can forgive me, I will try my best to be a friend and walk with you through life, offer care and advice when you call. I might not agree with your lifestyle, your opinions, or your faith; but as a human, I will fight for you, and as a Christian, I will do my best to love you as I was called to do (even if it’s the most painful thing to love your sarcastic mouth, pretentious ideas, and overall stupid personality, millennials) – because if Jesus died for a stupid asshole like me, the least I can do is try to be your friend.