What It Means to Be A “Christian” (Response)

If you have any Christian friends on social media, you’ve probably already come across THIS ARTICLE.

Christian subcultures are an entertaining phenomenon. Multiple brands of Christianity claim the same Lord and read the same Bible, and yet they promote a set of values sometimes as different as apples and orangutans.

When you try to cut out Christians with a religious cookie cutter, you not only tarnish diversity, but you trample on grace. It’s one thing for Christian subcultures to cultivate unique values. But it becomes destructive when those values are chiseled on Sinaitic tablets for all to obey.

Of course, someone like me immediately wonders: “Has that author written his blog post on a Sinaitic tablet, insisting that his view of Cookie Cutter Christians be a view that ALL of us obey?”

But let’s keep reading…

It’s even worse when Christians expect instant holiness from recent converts—holiness, that is, in areas where we think we’ve nailed it…

It’s a shame that some believers have scoffed at some of Shia Labeouf’s recent comments about converting to Christianity, pointing fingers at the fact that he still uses bad language weeks after becoming a Christian…Bad language may take years to weed out.

At this point, someone like me is thinking, “Does Shia Labeouf’s flesh have such control that he can’t keep his fingers from typing profanity-laced messages AND hitting ‘send?'” And, if so, is his soul still in such need of “weeding” that he can’t at least apologize and promise to try harder when someone calls him out?

But, I kept going…

Grace means that we are all works in progress, and God shaves off our rough edges in His timing.

Just look at the thugs God works with in the Bible.

I know we’re programmed to see the 12 apostles as saints with halos and contemplative faces. But actually, they were criminals. These guys were more like prisoners than pastors, and few of them would be let inside our churches today.

Finally, it was here that I realized I needed to write a blog post featuring the apostles, exactly as this author portrays them.

How did the disciples of Jesus act AFTER they met Him, and how would Jesus Himself handle these “thugs?”

Today, I’m imagining the apostles traveled forward in time and fell in love with Preston Sprinkle’s article about Messy Christianity…and then traveled back to their own era in the Middle East to apply what they’d learned.

Here’s how I think that would look:

———————————————————————–

Peter:  God Dammit!!!

John: Yikes, Pete! Don’t forget, the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable. What’s going on with that loose tongue?

Peter: I’m just really worked up about what Matthew is doing. Did you know he still sneaks to his old booth and collects some taxes now and then?

John: Well, yeah.  (*scratches his head*)  I’d heard that.  But… as you know, we can’t expect someone’s life to be changed overnight. Being a friend of Jesus is messy!

Peter: Yeah–I agree with that, I guess.  I mean, I’m sure I agree with it, when it applies to YOU, showing me some grace while I get my shit together. But stealing from poor people seems like kind of a big deal!

John: Oops, here he comes now.

Peter: Oh, shit!

Matthew:  Hey, guys. Did you see the ladies who were talking with Jesus this morning? They’re prostitutes!

John: So? What’s so strange about that? Jesus has changed the hearts of many prostitutes in the past.

Matthew: Yeah, but that’s just it! He told them to change. It’s like Jesus doesn’t know that these gals are works-in-progress. They’re going to be a little messy!

John: Hm, I see your point.  I wonder if Jesus realizes that a sub-culture of Christians might turn his message of change into legalism.  I’m sure He doesn’t want people to think “change” is something to be dogmatic about!

Peter:  Yeah! Screw Fundamentalism!

*Suddenly, Jesus appears out of nowhere*

Jesus:  Have you been keeping my commands, gentlemen? You know that’s how to show your love for me, right?

Peter:  (*out-bursting and pointing at Matthew*) He’s collecting taxes again!!!

Matthew: Oh look who’s talking, Peter Potty Mouth!

John: (*holding up his hand*)  Wait, I can handle this, Jesus. Let’s all remember that you can’t sanitize grace. You can’t stuff it into a blue blazer and make it wear khakis.

Peter: What the Hell are “khakis?”

Jesus: (*squeezing the bridge of his nose*)  Aaaaaaaah, my friends. How long shall I put up with you?…

Matthew: You sound annoyed, Jesus? Can we just remind you that sometimes grace is messy and offensive?

Jesus: Fun fact, Matt. I’ve never been recorded using the word “grace” myself…

(*the Apostles look shocked*)

Jesus: Listen up, guys. Put down the blog post, and listen to what I’M saying…


 

Of course, I don’t have the time or space to copy everything that Jesus said to his disciples.  Nor can I reprint everything the disciples passed down, for the churches they planted.

But I DO think it’s interesting that–whatever Jesus said and modeled for John and Peter and all the others–it led them to write things like:

Peter: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

John: No one who keeps on sinning has either seen [God] or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as God is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

That’s thought-provoking, isn’t it?

Now, granted, there are disputes among Christians about what type of conduct is “sinful” and what type is “holy.”  Smoking and gambling and alcohol and promiscuous dress may be considered “gray areas.” But shouldn’t we be having those conversations about if/when they’re acceptable for Christians?

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the freedom (and the grace) to discuss doctrine, without being told to shut up and let people be messy, without question?

I hope I’m not the only one tired of running head-long into someone’s Grace Shield, which is just an excuse not to take responsibility for our actions.

If what I’m doing is actually, demonstrably wrong, then I can show that I’m a Christian by owning it and letting God change it.   (And that goes for Shia LeBeouf, too.)  🙂

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12 thoughts on “What It Means to Be A “Christian” (Response)

  1. sailordale

    This is an interesting post, and thought provoking!
    I just found you from your posts on this blog-
    https://attaleuntold.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/open-challenge-for-any-christian
    So, I was just trying to see what you believe. I don’t think that “Ark” blog is anything more than an anti- God rant. I have responded to him before, and usually I just ignore the stuff he posts.

    Anyway, I see both sides of the Grace issue, some use it as an excuse to blatantly sin, and others are too strict in the application of God’s Grace.
    As for me, I am somewhere in the middle, leaning conservative,I guess. I believe in allowing grace & liberty, and Unity is good, but NOT at the expense of sound doctrine! There are certain essential things in Christianity that we absolutely must be in agreement on, and they are not open for discussion. In all other things, discussion is good…But NOT arguing or fighting.

    I am a married man, 100% Faithful to God and my wife, with 3 sons & 1 daughter.
    If you would like to follow my blog, I am at https://sailordale.wordpress.com/

    Aloha, new Friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      Thanks, Sailor Dale! You’re in Hawaii, I take it?
      My parents are celebrating their 30th on Maui RIGHT NOW.

      I spend most of my time managing and commenting on my dad’s blog The Comedy Sojourn (branyancomedy.wordpress.com). So I’m a pretty irregular poster on this one.

      But I appreciate the follow, and I’ll definitely check out your blog, too!

      Like

      Reply
  2. acquiescentsoul

    Haha screw fundamentalism! I love it, Amanda! (I’m glad I know your name now because calling anyone other than my wife mommy is just weird ha) The line between Grace and Holiness is one that I’ve found myself on both sides of. Sometimes all I want to do is shout, “Woooo, yeah, F***ing Grace!” While other times I beat myself up over the littlest of things. Aw the sweet relief that the world is not dependent on little ol’ messed up me!

    Like

    Reply
    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      Thanks for reading, Soul!

      I don’t write here a whole lot… (I spend a lot more time commenting at The Comedy Sojourn, which is a blog I co-administer with my dad.)
      But, every now and then I’m inspired to write something that people will misunderstand and be offended by. 😉

      You’re welcome to stop by any time!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. acquiescentsoul

        Hah. I’m James btw. I’ve read some of your dads stuff, but have already engaged the trolls enough elsewhere to comment on anything. I wish I could be completely free to do that… but I’m a youth minister in the Bible Belt and could lose my job if I challenge the wrong thing. It makes real conversation on blogs like this (and even some atheists blogs) all the more enjoyable.
        I almost did a sermon titled, “Seven Days?” Bringing into question whether God made the universe in 7 days, or if the point of Genesis 1 is that God created. But decided it wasn’t worth my job ha

        Like

      2. mrsmcmommy Post author

        See, that’s frustrating to me… :/ We Christians should be the ones who are MOST free to seek the Truth and to follow it wherever it leads. All Truth belongs to God. In fact, the scientific discipline itself was developed by curious Christians who wanted to learn more about God by learning about what He made. It’s a shame there is anyone, anywhere who is being discouraged by the Church when they ask too many questions, because I don’t believe there is such a thing as too much curiosity about the truth.

        Ugh.

        Sorry that’s a tightrope you are having to walk.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. acquiescentsoul

        Tell me about it! My wife is a biology grad so we’ve become accustomed to getting ridicule at even mentioning the possibility that evolution could be true. It’s sad to me how so many Christian’s think we are at odds with science. And that it’s either science, or God.
        And, indeed Truth belongs to God, and is God. I LOVE questions. I question everything! I love doing youth ministry because the teens are a lot more accepting to explore these questions than the adults are. It’s almost sad really.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wally Fry

    Hello Amanda from your biggest fundamentalist fan! Was browsing around and ran across this one. Thought provoking as usual.I really appreciate the rather unconventional work you and your Dad do here on the blog world. LOL, it’s not always the fundamentalist cup of tea so to speak, but as you said God didn’t make us using a cooking cutter. Grace is a big, big subject and near and dear to my heart. If you ever get bored and want to read my thoughts about things like grace, salvation, security, legalism…and other stuff, my series Jesus Paid it All more or less captures a lot of my conclusions from God’s Word. A link, if you don’t mind one, to a summation of the 5 post series I did is enclosed.

    https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/jesus-paid-it-all-parts-1-5-summarized-2/

    I was recently promoted at work, so haven’t been around the blog world much, but been thinking a visit to your Dad’s place might be in order…dunno yet. That crowd requires too many brain cells to deal with. We dimwitted Fundies like to stick to simply Bible stuff ya know..

    🙂

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    Reply
    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      We’ve missed you at The Sojourn, Wally! In some ways, it has been the same old, same old. But, we never know who is reading and considering…and ultimately choosing to submit to the Lord. I’m happy to work along side you, and I’ll definitely check out your series some time.

      (But the Cubbies play in 10 minutes!) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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