(in light of some conversations I’ve been having lately, here are some formative, not definitive, thoughts, about the words we use and how they affect our testimony) When you talk to people and the…
I get it. I’m tired of the fighting and name calling too, but if not “Christian” then what? Should we use “Jesus follower”? It’s just me and Jesus against the world? We can try to rebrand all we want, but that’s not going to make the “bad” stuff go away, and I don’t think it’s going to look like anything more than creative wordplay by anyone already outside the church.
"Christian" is a messy term. There’s a lot of crap that’s been done under that banner. But to treat it like a turd we’re tired of polishing—rather than owning a narrative of people sometimes getting things *very* wrong, but often being the one’s out in front being salt and light in a fallen world—is a disservice to the 2000 year history of the people who call Christ Lord and Savior.
It’s not the turd that stinks, it’s us.
Changing our name doesn’t put more distance between us and the Crusades. Changing our name doesn’t put more distance between us and slavery (modern or historic). Changing our name doesn’t make us more Christ-like. Our nearness to Christ and the Kingdom isn’t measured by our distance from our brokenness. We’ve got to own the brokenness, own the stink, own the pain, before people will see Christ in the messiness.
All those conversations where we’re fighting over semantics are doors to conversations about what Christ *is* rather than what we are not. So when someone asks me, “So, you’re a Christian, what do you think about…” I pray that my reaction isn’t a long sigh and a doctrinal paper about proper eschatology. I pray that my answer is honest and open, and that they would hear Christ in my words.
Maybe my definition of Christian is different from yours. And that’s fine. It’s a big family, and we have some crazy uncles and some black sheep and some closet skeletons, but it’s a family I love dearly and that I’m grateful to call home.