I am upset by comments I’ve read in the paper both by and about “Christians.” The term is not only misleading, but words and attitudes by so-called “Christians” are frequently very un-Christ like!
In the first place, the term “Christian” is only used three times in the New Testament and never in the Gospels. Jesus certainly never used the term. Now, it is widely used to describe Western culture which has a strong Judeo-Christian worldview. Unfortunately, many if not most people who claim to be culturally Christian — as opposed to Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, etc. — are not really knowledgeable about or obedient to the mission and message of Jesus. There are also many genuine but immature followers of Jesus who are terrible witnesses in word and deed. Unfortunately, both these groups — but also all the rest of us — are poor witnesses because we are all sinners.
Jesus says that we shouldn’t be self-righteous, arrogant, judgmental, angry or hurtful to others in any way. The “royal law” states, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:8) Where is the love when people use “Christianity” and the Bible as a weapon and a platform to judge others — gays, abortionists, the poor on government assistance, those with HIV/AIDS, those with addictions or anyone who has a different set of beliefs?
Jesus loved and accepted people before they repented of their sins. Note there was no precondition or judgment on the woman caught in adultery, the paralyzed sinner, Levi the rich, crooked tax collector or even on the rich man who refused to follow Jesus. Even the 12 disciples all betrayed him prior to his crucifixion. Instead of judging them all, Jesus sought them out, touched them, patiently interacted and discipled them, and ultimately loved them into the Kingdom of God. As believers, we are called to be like him and to do the same.
When we self-righteously and angrily judge others, we cause pain, alienation and defensive attitudes, not “good fruit.” Changes of heart and behavior do not occur. The only way to utterly transform human lives is through unconditional acceptance and love for others. That is the Jesus way, and it works.
If we as fellow broken sinners walk alongside others, patiently speaking love, healing and wholeness into their lives, then we may call ourselves “Christians.” Otherwise, I think the term should be avoided.