Sometimes we get Christianity mixed up with our own preferences, ideals or passions and miss the radical point of Christian community we find in Scripture. Here’s a quick list of 10 things we often see co-opted with Christianity that are either way off or only provide a small glimpse, but not the whole picture.
10. A Political Party
At times, Christianity gets co-opted into a political agenda, but Christianity is never about party politics; instead, Christianity is wrapped up in the politics of the Kingdom of God. It’s impossible for a single party to claim Christianity—no matter how many issues rest neatly on the party line. Christianity is bigger than Republicans, Democrats and Independents—its expanse rolls through history, world events, issues, leaders and nations and rises above to represent a here-but-not-yet Kingdom with Christ on the throne, ruling. Our vote is always for Jesus above everything and everyone else.
9. A Feel-Good Support Group
Christianity is not an AA meeting or a self-help group. Christianity is a community of people dead-set on making much of Christ and seeing his rule and reign realized through obedience, sacrifice and worship. It’s not really about fixing you as much as it is about opening your eyes to see Christ clearly and living in such a way as to draw others to the same vision. Support groups talk about problems and provide community—that happens in Christianity, but it’s a small piece of the pie compared to the radical mission of living out Jesus and making much of Him together.
8. A Nice Thing to Do on Weekends
Christianity is not a weekend-warrior sport—it’s a 24-7 life commitment to follow a Savior who changed the world. It’s so much more than getting your family dressed in nice clothes, smiling to friends, listening to a sermon and grabbing lunch at Appelebee’s on Sunday afternoon. Christianity is a collection of people who are battle-charged to go into the world and make Jesus known at every moment.
7. A Safe Haven From the World
Christianity is not a holy huddle for families to find safety and protection—or shelter—from the world. Christianity was never intended to be a place where people pulled out from the world to form safe and secure sub-communities. Christianity is dangerous, world-engaging, justice-fighting, bold-hearted, grace-infused activism—meant to spill into the world like rain… covering the masses like a downpour and flowing to every crack and margin with a message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation. Christianity was never meant to be cooped up—it’s a wild community of people-loving crazies willing to risk comfort to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
6. A Membership to a Country Club
It might feel this way sometimes by the way we dress or the racial lines drawn—sometimes unintentionally—but Christianity is not an elite social club. No, Christianity is as wide open as any group in the entire history of the universe. Everyone is welcome: poor, wealthy, gay, straight, police, teenagers, disabled, healthy, convicted murderers, toe-headed kindergarteners, prostitutes, prudes—even the self-righteous. Everyone is invited to come in and find forgiveness and true life in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
5. A Group for Perfect People
Christianity is filled with flawed people. That’s really the only kind of people we’ve had throughout history. Adulterers, slave owners, prostitutes, pastors—you get the drift. The problem stems from the fact that we’re often not very open about our issues and the way we huddle in church with our smiles, nice clothes and positive attitudes can make it look like we’ve got it all together. Um, but we don’t. We’re imperfect people resting on the grace of Christ. We’re not trying to be imperfect, but we can’t avoid it. There’s only one perfect person in our group: Jesus.
4. An Anti-Gay Rally
You’ve probably heard a lot in the news about Christians speaking out against homosexuals and not baking cakes and such. However, this is more of a right-left media argument, don’t be fooled by the hyped-up controversy. The church is not one big anti-gay rally. Does the Bible speak about the sin of homosexuality? Yes. It also speaks about gluttony, greed, sex out of marriage and a lot more. Christianity, at its core, is about pointing people to the radical grace of Christ and his work on the cross to rescue sinners—not stopping people groups from getting government benefits.
3. A Cruise Ship
Christianity is not a luxury cruise—it’s a battleship if anything. Christianity isn’t about your personal comfort and entertainment while on board. It’s not about providing you or me with a resort-like experience. Christianity is about engaging the world and the powers of darkness with the truth. The battle is real. A lot of people leave Christianity when they discover this, but I hope you don’t. We’re on a dangerous mission, but we know the outcome and it’s pretty stellar. So hang in there.
2. A Ticket to Heaven
Being a Christian is not about getting a golden ticket from Wonka or a hole-punched ticket from the Polar Express that says, “You’re in!” It’s also not some kind of one-time transaction that gets you in the door so you can live however you want for the rest of your life. Christianity is about dying to yourself and literally giving your life over—the minutes, days, months, years—to a King who’s so good he will fill you up with life overflowing. Christianity is about being a new human being with a new heart—one that changes your life forever. It’s not about duty, but joy, passion, goodness and fullness. A new kind of humanity. A new kind of living.
1. A religion
This is where some people get tripped up. They see Christianity as just another religion with its rules and traditions. Christianity was never meant to be a “religion” in the traditional sense, but a movement of called-out people who follow a new King other than self. When you step into Christianity through faith in Christ you don’t step into a religion—you step into a new Kingdom. Christianity is not about making sure you keep the religious rules; it’s about fostering a relationship with your true King—the one who will return to set up his rule for eternity over all creation. There’s a big difference.
Brian Orme is the founding editor of ChurchLeaders.com and Faithit.com. He works with creative and innovative people to discover the top stories, resources and trends to equip and inspire the Church.