Friday, July 30, 2010

Christian: Either you are one or you ain't

This CNN headline caught my eye today: [Author] Anne Rice Leaves Christianity.

I read the article. Click on the link and you can too.

I had to chuckle. I have a newsflash for Anne:

You're still a Christian!

Merriam Webster's definition of a Christian is: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Anne does. Thus, she is still a Christian, whether she calls herself one or not.

The article explains Anne's frustrations with "belonging" to a "quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group." She's tired of being anti-everything. "Following Christ," she says, "does not mean following His followers."

Anne, you are exactly right! I think most of us who call ourselves "Christian" are worn out by all the bickering between denominations, the debates on all things biblical, the folks out there who truly give Christians a bad reputation (such as the Westboro Baptist Church--Ack!!). There is no denying the fact that a lot of the negativity thrust upon Christians is a direct result of our own behavior. But a lot of it also comes from our firm belief that living Christ-like lives means adhering to the Bible and its teachings.

Anne's declaration is not new. I recently read a posting by Author Ted Dekker about the word "Christian" and how he doesn't like to label himself with it. He grew up in Indonesia and states that much of the world considers "Christian" to mean "Western" which has nothing whatsoever to do with believing in Jesus. I would add that there are religions out there including the Mormon Church and Jehovah's Witness who are classified as "Christian" churches but do not believe in the same Jesus Christ that Protestants and Catholics believe in. Ted also spoke to the negativity associated with Christianity and would rather not attach himself to it. Hundreds of readers chimed in that they feel the same way. Even I don't usually refer to myself as a Christian when someone who doesn't know me asks about my "religion." I say I'm a follower of and believer in Jesus Christ, Immanuel.

Just yesterday I read a posting on the Facebook page of one of my sons' friends. He says he no longer claims to be a Christian but is a believer and follower of al-Masih. Huh? I had to Google "al-Masih" to find out that it is the Aramaic (as far as I can tell) word for Jesus. Whew! I don't have a problem with Christian kids searching out their own answers, but being the Mom that I am, even to my kids' friends, I'd have to sit this young man down and have a good talk with him if I thought he was delving into something that could potentially do some serious harm.

Whether we use the word "Christian" to describe ourselves or not really isn't the issue anyway. It all comes down to the heart. God looks at our hearts, not at our labels.

I am a Christian.

I am a Follower.

I am a Believer.

I am His!

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