There are many new and newer Christians attending Northstar and that number increases weekly. But even people who have been Christians for some time or even all their lives have questions on Christianity in contemporary culture. There is a pretty wide array of common misperceptions, characterizations, stereotypes, caricatures and outright myths about Christianity that circulate heavily within today’s society. I would like to address some of those myths and urban legends about Christianity continuing with the general perception that all Christians are loving, perfect people.
I have said many times that Northstar is a church where everyone’s welcome, nobody’s perfect and anything is possible. It’s the church for people who may have received dirty looks in the past from church folks because of their style of dress, visible tattoos, or anything else that didn’t seem “proper.” It’s the church for people who have endured awkward silences from “religious” folks when they learn they’ve gone through a divorce. We don’t have any “Holier-than-thou” folks because none of us have a right to be. We are a simply a church where imperfect people can find God’s purpose for their lives. We don’t have a dress code. We don’t require a background check. We want you just as you are. Unvarnished. Imperfect. Real.
I sometimes wonder how that perception got started. Regardless of how it got started, that perception is not only incorrect, it is potentially harmful. It becomes harmful when it creates a a barrier for people, who might be open to attending church, but think they have to have it “all together” before attending a church. It is ironic because it is so contrary to what is reality. Church is a place where we can come as we are, broken and in need of direction. Jesus said he came for the sick, not the well. May He forgive us if we ever come across as better or more “holy.”
The Jesus I worship and serve hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors. He told the people who wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery, “let you who have never sinned throw the first stone.” If Jesus were walking the earth today, he would spend time with the homeless man looking for food in dumpsters or on a park bench or whisper “I love you” to the woman battling cancer.
We are guilty of making Jesus’s message complicated. Jesus simply told people to follow me. You didn’t have to have a single ounce of holiness in your whole being. People came as they were and He transformed them. The disciples were ordinary men that Jesus transformed. The person who wrote most of the New Testament (Paul) was out persecuting Christians, until he was transformed.
Here’s the bottom line. When we become Christians, our life becomes totally new. All our excess baggage is eliminated. Jesus can do so much more with us than we can do by ourselves. None of us has the right to think ourselves better than others. We may be improving as we walk with our God, but we will never be loving and perfect Christians.
It won’t take long for a visitor to discover that all Christians are not loving, perfect people. Our imperfections and failures will eventually be displayed. We will fail occasionally. But I also hope they will see God will never fail them. People make mistakes but the good news is everyone was made perfect and unique by a God that doesn’t make mistakes. He never sorted people into classes, or social groups. He never said anyone is better than anyone else. He loves people that no one else loves and he loves us even when we fail.