I was having a conversation with someone the other day pertaining to politics and the role of religion in shaping one’s political opinion. I wondered aloud whether our differing theological views could contribute to any strife we might have in future, to which he replied “I don’t think so – I haven’t really seen it (Christianity) manifest in you”. Hearing that was like a slap to my face, after all the worst thing you could hear as a Christian is that you aren’t very Christ-like.
It took me a few minutes to process what he had meant by that, and I realised that to me, the manifestation of Christianity is love and patience and altruism learnt from being unconditionally loved by God. But what he had meant by that statement was that I was open-minded, tolerant of views different to my own and capable of reasonable debate. And it really saddened me to see what he thought Christianity was. Ignoring the sign-touting, hate-spewing extremists that plague every religion (after all, assholes will always exist regardless of what group you belong to), I think that there is a general defensiveness to modern day Christians. I think it is a brilliant thing that there is greater discussion, awareness and acceptance of more left-wing or radical ideas, even if I do not agree with them all. But I can see how this may feel threatening to the church. However, I don’t think being defensive will help anyone better understand Christ.
I don’t think it is our right to be offended when people reject Jesus. I often remind myself that a Muslim or a Hindu may believe in their faith as deeply as I do in mine. So who am I to tell them that they are wrong? I certainly wouldn’t appreciate them telling me what to believe in. I think it is important to bring people to Christ, but I think it is most important to do that through our actions; by quietly loving people, and being forgiving and gracious. I have a long way to go to become the kind of person I would like to be. But frankly, I think God doesn’t need defending to other people, I believe that the bible is the truth – my truth – and that God is perfect, and in His perfection, there is no need to defend or explain His word. We do not need to defend God against people, but we should represent him to people. Defensiveness stems from fear, not faith, and as Christians I think the only defensive front we need to take is to defend ourselves to God: to be able to justify our decisions and actions, and how we treat others and deal with situations in our lifetime. As John 3:17 says, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”