There is one word that has the power to shut down conversations or breed arguments, to lift people up or push them down, to bring unity or division.
One word that has become so distorted since it came into use that those who birthed it would no longer recognize it.
One word that should convey truth, grace and hope, yet is now understood to mean hypocrisy, judgment, and oppression.
Yes, Christian. Though I ascribe to the teachings of Jesus and try every day to be guided by his Way, though I believe Jesus to be Savior and Lord, though I believe in the Bible, I do not call myself a Christian.
At least not in public.
Why? Its simple, really; I don't agree with the Jesus being portrayed by the majority of voices and media claiming the identity of Christian. The loudest voices using their platforms to continue rhetoric of hate and division, trying to create a hierarchy of people.
That is not the Jesus I know nor is it the Jesus I aim to direct people to in the way I live, act, and interact. So, I use alternative descriptors of my faith.
But, the more I think on it, the more I realize I've been choosing a wrong action. Not using the word does nothing for furthering the Kingdom of God. Not using the word does nothing to change what is currently promoted as Christian. So, rather than removing the word from my vocabulary, I've come to realize it is time to reclaim the word.
It is my hope that as Christian is reclaimed, a starting point will be captured in the message in the image above: You will never look into the eyes of some God does not love. Think about that.
Every single person you see is a person God loves. Every. Single. One. No ifs, ands, or buts; every single person. Period.
I'm currently serving as President of Holland Classis (a regional cohort of ministers/elders who gather for the local work of the church, order, and discipline) and last night I read my State of the Classis report. Here is a small portion of it:
"As a Classis, we have the opportunity to be an example to the greater Holland area in, at bare minimum, two significant ways: 1) what it means to see and treat each individual as a human being imbued with the image of God; and 2) how to remain united and speak in love and grace-filled ways even when we disagree."
I believe this is how we begin reclaiming Christian. Be an example of seeing and treating everyone you meet as someone as equally imbued with the image of God as are you. Be an example of how to have conversations filled in grace and love, rather than judgment, condescension, and/or hate.
So, today I being reclaiming Christian and take my responsibility for changing how the world understands it. Today I take my responsibility for living as a Christian that points to Christ and Christ alone. Today I take my responsibility for showing everyone I meet that they too are filled with the image of God, worthy to be loved and loved already by the one whose name I claim.
Will you join me? Leave me a comment here on the blog or drop a note in the Suggestion Box. Let's talk about it and being reclaiming one, small, powerful word.