A Warmer View of Christians
A few months back a new study reported that among the college professors surveyed, over 50 percent of them harbored “cool or unwelcoming” opinions of Evangelical Christians. As an Evangelical Christian, this broke my heart. It’s not a whole lot of fun to read that the majority of a respected profession renders my “kind” an unwelcome presence in their lives. This also enraged me a bit. I mean, this is bigotry at its best: openly disdaining an entire group based on the behavior of a few!
But hurt and anger aside, their answers didn’t surprise me at all. Let’s be honest here: I live in this society; we all can see the trouble certain Christians cause and know how annoying we can be. And of course, people never like others to “shove their beliefs” down our throats—something Christians are often accused of. (I doubt, however, this is the reason for the professors’ dislike—since almost by definition this is what they do for a living.)
In fact, because I’ve gone to school with, worked with, lived with, worshipped with, and socialized with Evangelicals, I know better than most that we can be a horrid lot. I’ve heard us lie, gossip, ridicule, swear. I’ve seen us cheat, steal, fight. I’ve experienced the judgment, the hypocrisy, the cruelty. Basically, I’ve known Christians to behave like the regular, broken humans we are. It’s a shame, but it doesn’t have to be all bad.
While Christians are famous for pointing out the ills of the world, we’re quite slow to mention our own failings, struggles and weakness. Christians don’t like to reveal weaknesses any more than anybody else. It’s hard to talk about the ways we fail, disappoint and the ways we don’t measure up to the moral codes we believe in.
I think, however, that this is exactly what the world needs from Christians. That what would make us more warmly welcomed is if we came clean about what we Christians refer to as our “fallenness.” Because it’s only in understanding how we mess up that you can understand how we find forgiveness—and that’s the likeable part of Christianity. (That’s the whole part, actually.)
If these professors could get to know a few of us Christians who were willing to admit our weaknesses (as well as let them know that we too roll our eyes when others among us attack poor Harry Potter and that we too shake our heads when one of our “leaders” endures public disgrace!), they might also understand the “amazing grace” we’ve found irresistible. And that grace we believe in could be the warm and welcoming presence they seek.