Let’s Be Real About “Christianity”

Yesterday at church, Erin Day, a member of my congregation, preached for us. Used to a very different preaching style myself, I was immediately thrown off guard, being forced to listen and understand what I was being told. Erin went on a “Myth Buster” type adventure with her message, exploring the Christmas story and exposing it for what it really was. She told us all about the historical contexts and details surrounding the wise men, Mary, and the timeline of it all. For instance, this “baby Jesus” that the wise men (which probably included more than three people who weren’t really kings at all) went to go visit was more like a toddler Jesus, seeing as their meeting brought them to the Messiah when he was one and a half or so.

Multiple historical inserts later, Erin made a profound point. She questioned us, asking why we teach our kids about and buy the cards with the great story of the perfect manger and the warm barn and the painless birth of the Messiah. Her conclusion was that this whole situation was very different from how we retell the story. Mary was in pain, the barn was wet and cold, and the wise men were sent to get a location for the King to kill Jesus. Yet, Jesus still shows up, and he hasn’t left us since.

This resonates a lot with me in my life. In groups I’ve been a part of, being Christian often means trying to be perfect, and in turn, showing your “perfection” to the world. If I were in a place where I was trying to investigate this whole God thing and I saw these perfect Christians running around, trying to save me, I would run the other way, no question. Me, as an outwardly imperfect person could not possibly fit in with that kind of crowd.

I find myself now being cautious of this when I live my life. It’s kind of a fine line to draw, trying to live like Jesus did, but not being afraid to declare all your mess ups. In doing this, I have found that the best way to get to talk to people about what you’re all about is by erring on the side of “I’ve got all these issues and I’m nowhere near perfect”. People can relate to that, Christian or not, whether they care to admit it or not. Also, I would assume that hearing a Christian say that would lead someone to think, “hey, if she can do this, I can too”.

It’s never easy to join a new group. Whether it be a soccer team, the new block class, or a group of friends, this is hard. Will they accept me? What if I’m not as good or smart or outgoing? How do I get them to like me? This is what we, as the church, are making our new followers ask. It’s sad. I’m guilty more than I could ever even recognize. Is this how it has to be though?

My wish is that these questions of acceptance could be turned into statements of acceptance. How can we, the church, tell people that they are accepted, they are loved, and that they are cared about, no matter what they do or fail to do?

This is the question I ask myself today, and probably for many days to come, because when this question has an answer, the church will be free of guilt, denial, hatred, discrimination, and harm.

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