The inspiration for this post came from the link attached to the title of this post. I enjoy reading churchhop.blogspot.com each week. It's a chronicle of a brother and sister attending different churches each week and sharing their experiences. Although I'm not sure about Brandon, Erica considers herself an agnostic and a while back posted a thought-provoking question and a link to an article entitled "10 Myths About Atheism". So I was inspired, and here I am in my feeble attempt to dispel some myths about Christians in what I hope is a relevant, humble and honest way. I am not a scholar; I am just a searcher who is passionately devoted to Christ.
Sidebar: I have intentionally kept this list about Christians. Myths about Christianity would be significantly different in my opinion.
Myth #10 Christians are not allowed to enjoy themselves.
Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. "I'll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10: 6-10 (The Message)
They are many Christian who believe their suffering will make them more "holy" and as a result, be more pleasing in God's eyes. The gospel message simply does not endorse this. God wants us to prosper, but beyond that, he knows better than us. And because he does, it behooves us to listen to his voice. After all, you wouldn't ask someone who'd never made baklava before to teach you how, right?
Myth #9 It's easy to be a Christian.
Because I have been a Christian my entire life (despite many periods of doubt) I do not know the degree of difficulty or ease non-Christians live with. We are all human, and I would imagine we all live our lives with some amount of stress and hardship as well as joy and peace. While I would consider my life "easy" compared to most people, being a child of God isn't what make it easy. What it does mean is a life free from the bondage of sin. I still struggle everyday with doubt, sorrow, regret, sadness, and I beat myself up over my mistakes. And because the word "easy" is subjective there is no solid way I can address this myth, except to say that a belief in Christ and a life given over to him does not make us exempt from the hardships of the world.
You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (The Message)
Myth #8 Christians are constantly wracked with guilt.
At the very heart of the gospel is this one little word that packs a huge punch. Grace. This grace is given without cost, but didn't come cheap. My sin is covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. That does make me feel guilty, because it's not fair that someone else paid the price for my mistakes. But more than anything, this gift of grace makes me grateful. And at the heart of that gratefulness is a need to express my thanks and live outwardly to my community, my family, my church, and all that God's created. To appreciate and love others, and to sacrifice my own stupid selfishness for so that Christ may somehow been seen through me. My "good works" don't cancel-out my guilt, they are a thank you for the grace I get every day I simply don't deserve.
As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 6:20-22 (The Message)
Myth #7 Christians live by a set of rules that no longer apply to today's life.
I don't feel as though I can even skim the basics of this huge issue. It's a tough one, and a very valid issue for everyone, follower of Christ or not, to examine. But here's the rub: right and wrong have always existed and the search for something greater than us has as well. These things continue today because they matter. We face many of the same issues that were faced thousands of years ago. We're still human, and our hearts still remain at war with our minds.
Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples. I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love. John 15: 4-10 (The Message)
Myth #6 Christians don't question God.
I'm not sure what kind of person I would be if I didn't ask God "Why?" on a regular basis. One to roll over, one that is blind or too lazy, perhaps? I don't know that anyone understands God, and he thinks no less of us when we wonder if he really knows what he's doing. Personally, I would never believe in anything that didn't let me question it. It is one of life's great gifts.
I will finish the remainder of the top ten in another post. For now, I will leave you with this: I am not a normal Christian. I know this. Whether that's good or bad is subjective. What I have had is a real and amazing journey thus far with Christ. He's led me places I never though I'd go and I'm a better person for it. As hard as the journey is sometimes, I've always had this promise:
I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)
Part 2 - Myths 1-5