I was watching a Youtube clip of Dan Savage yesterday in which he addressed his reputation as an anti-Christian proponent. He has, been criticized for making negative comments about Christianity in some of his podcasts, speaking engagements and talks, I don't know if criticized is the right word, but he says he is often approached by Christians who feel the need to let him know that not all Christians are homophobic bigots.
In his ever-so-direct-straight-to-the-point manner (did I mention my, totally non-threatening, love for Dan Savage?), he tells the people who approach him this: "I know. I know...but Tony Perkins doesn't. Tell him. Tell all the right-wing-bat-shit-fundamentalist Christians who have usurped Christianity, who claim to speak for all of you...they're the ones. They're the ones who have created the impression that to be Christian is to be anti-gay...is to take sides in a war against LGBT people in this country. Don't tell me, I know. Tell them. Loudly..."
He goes on, to say, there are a large number of people, cited in some study or other, who believe in Jesus, but don't want to identify themselves as Christian because there is such a bad connotation to the moniker.
I was still thinking about Dan's video clip this morning when I logged on to Facebook, when saw that one of my groups, called The Christian Left, had a thread going that read-- Some progressive Christians prefer to refer to themselves as "followers of the way of Jesus" instead of as "Christians." It helps keep the focus on what ... Jesus intended -- off of him and more on the Way and the God he was seeking to invite people to experience and follow. p.55 Kissing Fish: Christianity for people who don't like Christianity" (© Roger Wolsey).
I am bothered by this trend. I am bothered that people who love and support basic human rights for all, and also believe that Jesus is their savior no longer what to be called Christians. Furthermore, I have been bothered, for quite some time, that the Tony Perkins of the world deem it their right to speak for the Christian masses; that he pretends to speak for ME.
I find it irritating that *I* have to let people know that I am not 'that kind' of Christian. It makes me angry, that one sect of very narrow-viewed [Christian] people have taken the liberty to hold everyone to their standard and hold in contempt, all who do not subscribe to their belief system-- and they're calling their behavior Christ-like (Christian). I'm not okay with that.
I think, that instead of more liberal Christians rejecting the name Christian, WE should actively seek to take the name for ourselves. We should be loud, and adamant that we are Christians. I'm not willing to give up the name Christian, because, to me, the word is perfect. I don't want to call myself a "follower of the way of Jesus", when Christian means just that. Christian is a beautiful word that sums up the essence of who I am and in whom I believe. There's no need for a qualifier before or after the word Christian. It is perfect, just like Jesus was.
The problem, as I see it, is that so much damage has already been done to the public face of Christianity that we fight an uphill battle. We feel the need to tell people, like Dan Savage, that we really aren't like that. We shouldn't have to, and really, we don't have to. Simply put, what we need, in this situation, is few words and plenty of Christ inspired action.
We should reveal the essence of Christ in our interactions with people, be they LGBT, or be they Christians, with whom we disagree theologically, or any person we meet on the street for that matter, we must treat them all with the grace Christ died to extend to us ALL. Yes, this is the best way to honor the moniker Christian; act like Christ. Others will see it. They'll know. Without us having to say a word, they'll know we are followers of Christ. It's time to take action and demonstrate Christianity. What are we waiting for? The time is now.
If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. ~James 2:16-18