I know a few Christian dudes — several of them pastors — who regularly smoke cigars and drink beer and wine. Does this bother you? Because they’re some of the best Christians I know.
Some are into metalcore, wear huge lip rings and gauged earrings, have tattoos like a second skin, and spike their hair into stilettos. Some curse like crazy, don’t pray before their meals, love MMA, read Cracked.com, and watch Key and Peele.
Some read horoscopes, watch The Daily Show, watch rated R movies, despise Chris Tomlin, can’t stand Christian books, and could care less about your politics. Some, at times, even doubt the existence of God.
Does this mean they’re not Christian?
Is a Christian supposed to be nicer? Gentler? Well mannered? More polite? Happier? Holier? Rich and successful? Full of doctrine? Republican? American? Calvinist? Going to seminary? On the praise team? A regular tither? Anti-something? Pro-whatever?
All of those are totally fine of course — but they do NOT define a believer’s faith.
The Christian loves Jesus and loves people. It is not less than this, but probably not that much more.
If we’re boxing Christians into our preconceived categories, we are limiting the limitless imagination of God. God can do His incredible work through people completely unlike me — so the best thing is just to get out of the way.
Not every Christian has to think like you or me.
We are like-minded in our love of Jesus: but we don’t have to think alike anywhere else. Jesus smashed all those human categories in both his life and his death.
What you see as a lukewarm Christian might just be someone who is on the first go-around. What you see as a hypocrite could be like Peter, who clung onto old Jewish rituals and was still repenting of his old life. Some people are on the first lap of learning biblical truth and we don’t need to rush them to a “finish line of faith.”
Since God is so ridiculously patient with us, then we don’t get to play a judgmental version of God with others. None of us get it right every time or most of the time or even half — and almost never the first time.
If you keep yelling “stumbling block” everywhere because you expect church-people to act “more Christian,” maybe no one else is playing by your made-up rules. Perhaps you’ve created a false over-sensitive moral standard that is defined by churchianity but is hardly biblical. That’s called legalism. When someone doesn’t fit your stereotypical view of a Christian, you’ve already shortened the arm of God.
Everyone is accountable, but everyone is also being chiseled in their personal relationship with Christ — and you are not the judge of that. You don’t get to judge someone’s life over a tiny slice of their lifetime.
A Christian is not defined by his progress, but by his Savior. She is not defined by the amount of her faith, but by the object of that faith.
Jesus is simple enough for the five year old and true enough for the eighty-five year old. He excluded no one on the cross. He is for everyone. He is even for people like you and me.
A Christian looks like Jesus, who had enough room in his heart for the full spectrum of humanity. I pray for a bigger heart like his.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
— Galatians 3:26-28
Originally posted here on my Tumblr.