Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Don't Like the Label "Christian"

     Occasionally I will get the question, "Are you a Christian?" Through my assumptions I decide what the motivation of their question is and I always am quick to answer "Yes." And I know I'm right to assume that their motivation in asking the question is never a good reason. It is most always gonna be a question of judgement. That if I answer "No" I'm doomed to the fires of Hell for eternity unless I put this correct label on. I guess my biggest fear is hearing somebody preach to me, as if that's the worst thing in the world. Or my other fear would be them asking me why not and then having to go into a long detailed explanation of my spiritual journey. Because it is literally 20 (almost 21) years in the making. I also fear that once somebody knows that I don't consider myself a Christian I will always be "that guy." Whenever the person who knows is around me, they won't think about the good time we might be having together, it will always be, "this guy isn't a Christian" and our relationship will never be the same. Why do we need this God as the main topic of our lives? I believe I have found a way to not let it be. Is it not possible to be a good person and not have God be the center of this motivation of wanting to be good?
     You may be thinking, "Wait, so you DON'T consider yourself a Christian then?" Not so fast... Don't come to any conclusions yet. I merely don't by your definition. First off, let me just say that I don't like labels. So I don't even like to call myself a Christian by my definition either. What is my definition? I have an idea but I won't go into it. It doesn't matter. I think the question people should be asking is, "What do you believe?" Because there are many definitions for the word Christian. But then again what a person believes shouldn't matter too much. It matters if that effects how you live your life, whether you live ethically or more on the selfish side. Not whether you pray to some higher power or not. I'm sure a lot of you people reading this disagree with me. I tend to get the same responses on each post.
     I'm thinking at this point I should remind you again what I believe (even though I just told you it shouldn't matter). Despite me giving hints in each blog post, it's always good to be reminded. Also, I change what I believe quite often so it is good to be updated. I believe that there is some form of higher power out there. I call this power God. I believe God is mysterious and acts differently in each individual situation. That could be why there are so many different beliefs out there. Why some people are convinced God has given them visions or has told them to do something. I also believe that most likely God isn't actively involved in the world today, which is why there is so much suffering. That it is our job to attempt to make the world a better place. I don't believe in Hell as we know it. I believe that the punishment of eternal suffering is way too harsh. I also acknowledge that if there isn't a hell then there's the possibility that there's no heaven either. And I'm getting better at accepting that. I certainly hope there is some sort of life after death though, but I think people shouldn't focus on the reward of death and instead think that there must be some reason we are on this earth other than to see if we can make it to Heaven and not Hell. I hope you can see past our different beliefs. I hope we can all just get along knowing we don't agree with each other.

1 comment:

  1. On Being a “Christian”
    A couple comments on your blog post regarding the label of being a “Christian”. You are right in that we live in polarizing times…to answer yes to that question is not so easy when we begin to question what are the motives of the person asking it. Will they be drawing a line in the sand and judging you but their own prejudices no matter what you answer. …this of course depends on the person asking are they there to convert you to their form of the religion or an atheist ready to judge you by their own form of religion (religion meaning a system of belief so I am not willing to concede that atheist nor agnostics have no belief system).
    The actual use of the term “Christian” has been a rather recent development as far as self identification in that it has been primarily in the last 400 years (from what I read). It is true that I think in Acts there is a verse that says something about them first being called “Christians” in Antioch. This was not the church calling itself that but it others calling them that…perhaps in mocking? I understand the literal meaning was “Christ Like.” Or “Like the Christ”
    My least favorite religious term these days is “Christ” it’s a Greek word for Messiah. So when I hear “Jesus Christ” I translate it to “Jesus the Messiah” in my head to help keep the meaning.
    So when they were called “Like the Christ” I think “Like the Messiah.” Then I can understand it better. Certainly the early followers wanted to be like the Messiah. Their guide was the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)…and before those were written down the stories that were shared of being with the Messiah and what he did and was like. He proclaimed the new Kingdom and died (which is something the early followers of Jesus expected…I think they expected that once they followed him they would meet the same fate as him.)
    So the term “Christian” wasn’t used much until around the time of the reformation or after. Before that it was simply referred to as the “the church” or “the Holy Faith”.
    The other thing to remember is the earliest forms of the church was not separate from Judaism. The early believers recognized that Jesus was the promised Messiah in fulfillment of the Jewish religion and not in conflict with it. Yes, non-Jews were permitted but there were argument as to whether they should keep many of the food and other laws.
    As to whether God is active I must disagree with you and say I do believe he is and it is my prayer for you that one day you will have an encounter that will remove all doubt. However, until that time I think you did answer your own question. It is the “Messiah Like” followers who are not only praying, “they kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But are also actively proclaiming good news to the captive and providing sight to the blind. Despite what sometimes appears in many of the bad things the so called followers of The Christ have done…a fair look also sees that many of the great advances in science and health were by believers acting on their faith. Just a few public comments...we can certainly discuss more if you are intersted...but since I am your father I am conscious that anything I say may sound like I am trying to bang my belief system it into your head. There may be a certain amount of truth to that so I am trying to walk gently in love.