I read a lot posts that say, “I met this really cool Christian who is pro-marriage-equality, pro-choice, pro-Democrat, and cusses and smokes and drinks and doesn’t believe in that holy wrath of God stuff, so this is proof that not all Christians are a-holes.”
I think this sounds really gracious. I really want to be a cool Christian too. I know plenty of brothers and sisters who fit those things and love Jesus. Personally, I’m a liberally progressive Jesus-follower who’s not a Republican either, so I fit at least half the requirements. It appeals to my hot tingling social-justicey inner-righteousness, and I can revel that I’m not like those “other Christians.”
Yet I sigh. Because it’s really saying, “I will like you — based on certain conditions that you need to meet until you’re cool with me.” This is exactly what a Christian is accused of doing — that we’re conditional when it comes to loving others — yet we’re only “cool” when we meet the relativistic standards of the masses.
I totally know that Christians are not the “victims” here. I just believe that religious or not: it’s dishonest to claim a kind of convenient, Westernized, flatlined tolerance that doesn’t examine itself first. It’s trying to have the best of all worlds and the whole dang cake too. It’s unfair at best and probably prejudiced at worst. It completely cuts off dialogue and reduces every side into a people-pleasing caricature.
The thing is, Christians are called out to be hypocrites because we don’t practice what we preach. But when we practice it, we’re called hateful until we compromise on the preaching. So Christians are pulled in two equally untenable directions and condemned either way for it, and it makes zero logical sense.
Naturally, a Christian will already be offensive without even trying: because when you claim to have a savior who died on a cross for your sins and got up from the dead, you’re probably going to offend some people.
If your idea of a cool Christian must abide to a dogmatic sweep of rigid political prerequisites: then you’re basically waiting for a Christian to screw up any of your demands. Then we’re onto performance-driven legalism, and we’ve become even more religious than the Christians we claim are trolls. Which means, hey, you’re a Pharisee.
The Gospel of Christianity is meant to cut through all these categories. I love you unconditionally because God loves me this way too. It means I can disagree with your choices as you can disagree with mine, and we can still be friends. If you think that’s stupid: the fact is that you do this everyday. You do it to yourself. You disagree with your own actions all the time, but you still go on thinking you are at least better than most other people. And if you’re half-capable of it for yourself, imagine if you believed that God loves you and loves the guy next to you. You’d find yourself loving all kinds of people you never imagined being able to love, without making them pass an internal exam.
I’m not even exactly sure if being a “cool Christian” is very cool anyway. Jesus said the world would hate some of us because it hated him first. It doesn’t mean that a Christian has to go out of his way to be a jerk: but it means that we can’t make everyone happy, no matter what we believe, and that popularity is no sign of being on the right side of anything.
To truly love without conditions is pretty dang hard. But that’s the only kind of love that will open up dialogue and change a hurting world. It’s the only kind that transforms. I hope we persevere with people whether they align with our agendas or not. I hope we stay when the mask falls off. Because love does that.