I recently made a decision that I am sure is going to be controversial. For those who will be offended by this decision, I am truly sorry. However, I urge you to read this post in its entirety so that you can better understand why I made this decision. After 44 years of calling myself a Christian, I have decided that I no longer want to be associated with what the term Christian entails. No, I am not renouncing my faith in Christ. That faith and love for God is as strong and present as ever. In fact, it is partly for that reason why I no longer want to be called a Christian.
I know I can hear many of you mumbling right now in confusion as to what I am saying. That is understandable as over the past few weeks, I have battled within my own heart whether or not this decision is strictly a reaction to the fact that I have once again seen Christians, under the pretext that they are acting in accordance with their church belief, do things in a way that is unChristlike or is Christ Himself leading me towards this decision.
As I struggled through that decision, I decided to do what is always the best thing to do. I went to the Bible itself. When I started examining Christ’s teachings and the writings of the Apostles, I began to realize something very disturbing. Not only did Paul never use the word Christian in any of his writings, not only did Jesus never refer to His followers as Christians, but to my surprise, the word Christian is only used three times in the Bible. But more surprising than the number of times it appears, is the realization that this term was used as a derogatory term by those outside the faith. In other words, those who were opposed to Christ, called the followers of Christ Christians. It was meant as a put down.
Okay, I know some of you are probably thinking, what’s the big deal? This is just semantics. But I want to propose to you that in today’s western world, it goes way deeper than semantics. Christians today are NOTHING like those followers of Christ in the first century. How do I know? Quite simply, if you were to ask the people in your office, neighborhood, or those you run into at the grocery store, a high percentage of them would call themselves Christians. And if you were to ask each one of them what a Christian is, you would probably get at least a dozen different answers. The term Christian is not clearly defined in our world, therefore a high majority of people in the western world consider themselves Christians. Yet, since the Bible never gives a definition for the word Christian, we have no argument to support the way we want to define Christianity. In other words, people define it anyway they want and they act in accordance with their own thoughts as to what a Christian is supposed to be like and supposed to do.
Oh, but my reasoning for no longer wanting to be called a Christian goes much deeper than the fact that in the first century, that term was used by the pagans in a derogatory way. One look at history will give you more than enough evidence to show that Christians are not the greatest of people. All you have to do is look at things like the Crusades or all the times Christians have burned people at the stake because they didn’t believe the way they did. Somehow, I just can’t see Christ condoning that.
But honestly, I don’t have to look at history to convince myself to renounce the term Christian. All I have to do is look at people in our western world that claim to be Christians. I’m not even talking about those who bomb abortion clinics or those who are part of the Westboro Baptist Church and all their antics. I am talking about the average church goer that sits in the seats each Sunday morning in the churches that we attend. Oh they love to talk the talk and tell people how much they care, but yet they turn on people in a heartbeat and in the name of the church and in the guise of Christianity, they cast judgment on people.
I understand that I am about to stir up a hornets’ nest because I am going to hit some people right between the eyes. But quite frankly I am tired of Christians acting so unlike Christ when it comes to not only dealing with the lost world, but also how they deal with other Christians. Christians are the most judgmental people around. They judge the world based on the standards they believe the Bible teaches. And they may be right in that the Bible does teach that. For instance (get ready here), I do believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. However, so many Christians become absolutely homophobic and in a very real sense make it very clear that they do not want to associate with such a sinner. Is that what Jesus would have done? Not the Jesus I know from reading the New Testament. That Jesus went to the homes of sinners. That Jesus loved the sinners. These Christians hide behind the phrase, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner,” and they think that covers them. But do they truly show love? No, the message that they so clearly demonstrate is that they hate the sinner as much or more than they hate the sin. Their very words and actions show they do not separate the sin from the sinners. They are so far from the way Christ lived that it is appalling.
Where did Christians get the idea that the lost world, the ones who are without Christ, must live according to the standards that they who call themselves Christians have? Even when those standards might be good and Godly standards, we cannot expect those who do not have the power of the Holy Spirit inside them to live like those who do. Let’s face it. They are sinners. They are supposed to sin. They can’t help it. That’s who they are and what they do. The only power they have to not live a sinful life is when God takes control of their lives. So Christians, you do more harm than good by trying to hold the world to God’s standards. The world simply cannot hold itself to God’s standards. So why do Christians judge them when they do not live according to the standards that they cannot possibly live up to?
But my beef with Christians goes even deeper than how so many view and treat those who are not part of their belief system. My biggest complaint about Christians is how they treat their own people. I am appalled at how often Christians blast other Christian leaders for something they said from the pulpit (sometimes it is even taken out of context). I have seen and heard Christians call other Christian leaders heretics and blasphemers because they said something that did not entirely fit into their neat little doctrinal package. I’m not saying that these things the leaders had said were always good or even benign. They may have truly been totally off base. However, to publically execute them with your nasty words is uncalled for and is a terrible example to the rest of the world. Yet, so many Christians do this out of the guise that they are standing for truth.
But what is truth? What is the truth about what Jesus expects from those who claim His name? As I mentioned earlier, Jesus NEVER referred to people as Christians. He called them His disciples. The term disciple means nothing more than being a follower of Christ. Now before you go and once again accuse me of splitting hairs and just making this a matter of semantics, let’s look at how Jesus says people will know who His true disciples are. In John 13:35, Jesus Himself says that our love for one another will prove to the world that we are His disciples. It’s not what we know, how often we go to church, whether we tithe faithfully, or if we speak in tongues or anything else. Love is the key that demonstrates that we are His disciples. That’s it. Love. Undying, life-changing, undeniable, unconditional, self-sacrificing, love. Anything less, according to Jesus, then we are not a follower of His. We may call ourselves a Christian – whatever that means – but we are not following Christ. Followers of Christ consistently demonstrates love to the world, the Christians, and other followers of Christ.
Yet love is all too often absent from those who call themselves Christians. Oh they sometimes put on an air of love in order to either impress someone or make themselves feel good, but the true love that Jesus demonstrated when He walked the earth, that love that says “I am going to step into the circle with those who are hurting or down and out, and I am going to encourage them, offer a helping hand, and help hold them up” is absent from most Christians and as a result most churches. Instead, Christians are notorious for shooting their own wounded. They don’t love. They hurt. It is the way of Christianity. It has been through all of history and it is still the way of the Christian church today. It is not the way of a follower of Christ.
For me, I have been let down and hurt by Christians one too many times. So many of them are just a more civilized version of those who were part of the crusades or even the Salem witch trials. Instead of demonstrating true love and reaching out to those who are lonely and hurting, they ignore them and hope they go away. At times, they even push them away. After all, that is what Christians have historically done. Today’s Christian is just like Christians of past eras. They wound more than they heal.
So I no longer consider myself a Christian because that is a term that really has no meaning. People define it however they want to. And most those who call themselves Christians do not live a life that truly follows Christ example. Instead, I want to be a disciple. I want to be called a Follower of Christ. I want to learn from His example and live the way He lived. I want others to see His love in me, and by that love, they will know that I am a follower of His. Let the Christians continue to be whatever they want to be. Let them continue to be judgmental hypocrites who care more about their doctrines and beliefs than they care about showing God’s love. I no longer want to be one of them. I want to offer hope and life, not condemnation and pain.
Yes, I will fail at being a follower of Christ. I will fail miserably. I will not always live the life of love and there will be times that people will think I am a Christian and not a follower of Christ. But my desire and my goal is follow Christ’s example and not live by the ways of Christianity. I do not want to be judgmental and aloof to the needs of others. I don’t want to go to church and occupy a seat on Sunday and tell others I care about them and then don’t think about them the rest of the week. I don’t want to ignore the hurting people in my life without offering hope and encouragement.
And I pray that I am not alone in this exodus from Christianity. I pray that many will stop living, acting, and speaking like a Christian and will become a true follower of Christ. I pray that churches will begin to spring up that will emphasize following Christ by exhibiting love to both their world and to those who are part of their fellowship. That is the only way that we can make a true difference in our society. That is the only way the world will know that we are followers of Christ. It’s time to change. It is time to stop being a Christian and acting like a Christian. Instead it is time to live like Christ lived, do the things that He did, and love the way that He loved. It’s time to start a revolution and revolt against Christianity in favor of becoming people who follow Christ.