Now that I've gotten you attention with that title, let's talk about this.
First, I am a Christian, in the purest form of the meaning of the word. Or rather, I strive to be. The word, from the Greek, means "little Christ". According to the New Testament, it was a name given to followers of Christ in the first century, possibly as a derogatory term. However, followers claimed the name for themselves and even Peter in his writing uses the name. My church calls itself Christian, and I know they would all agree that it is this original meaning that they wish to be the name of our family.
In that sense, in that meaning, I love the word.
But it's what it has come to mean, what the general population sees and feels when they hear the word that I hate. The social and political connotations that have come to be associated with the word, and with the people who claim the title, have obfuscated any meaning it may have carried before.
For example: "If you're not conservative, you're not Christian", "If you're not Pro-Life, you're not a Christian", "If you voted for Obama...", "If you listen to such and such kind of music...", etc. These are things Christians say about each other. What naturally follows is that the rest of the world sees Christians defining these things about themselves and therefore associate these things with them.
But more so, what the world sees is Christians drawing lines declaring a difference between "us" and "them". "Here's us over here, conservative, pro-life, creationist, anti-gay. We're right. There's everyone else over there, they're wrong. Sorry, you can't be Christian unless you follow everything we believe."
Now, I'm not saying that people, all people, shouldn't stand up for what they believe. Social and political issues that you feel are worth supporting, go and support them. Christians too, go support the things you believe in.
The problem is when Christians assume that just because they, and possibly the church they belong to, support a certain cause, that all Christians should support the same cause. They draw a line. Then, to make matters worse, they become very vocal about where the line is drawn. Those in the media spotlight assume they get to draw the deepest darkest lines.
And make the rest of us look like idiots.
What has Christian come to mean? Divisionists.Us versus them. And that is not what it was meant to be.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your enemies.
Love each other.
Love never fails.
We should be known by our love.
These are all things the Bible teaches. If there is one thing a Christian must do, if there is one thing that should DEFINE a Christian, it's love.
I'm not talking about the squishy feel good kind of love that we might feel sitting around a campfire with each other, I'm talking about love as a verb. The kind of love that compels you to serve your neighbor, even and especially the ones you don't like. That gross old man on the corner with the messy yard, is he warm enough tonight? Did he have a good dinner before he went to bed? The single mom on the next block, the one everyone says had five kids with five men and now has a drug problem. Does she need some help cleaning her house? Do you think some evening she would let you babysit so she could have some time alone? The weird guy who always seems to wait on your when you go to your favorite place to eat. Do you think he could use an extra $20 that you could leave him as a tip, even though your meal was only $17.50?
And no, you don't get to do this stuff just so you can talk to them about Jesus or tell them what they're doing wrong or even invite them to church. You do it because it's an act of love. That's it and that's all.
If every Christian everywhere put down their picket signs and took off their "I miss Reagan" bumper stickers and just started loving people, I think the world would have a new definition for us.