Lately I have been finding myself in situations where people will complain to me about Christians. You know the usual complaints: why won't they just let homosexuals love each other, why are all these pastors such hypocrites, why are they trying to legislate my body, and the list goes on.
As you can imagine, this is sometimes very awkward for me. Does this person know I'm a Christian? If they don't I really feel like a failure. Guilt sets in. I stop listening to what the person is saying and begin a vigorous mental flagellation process.
If they do know I'm a Christian, what do they hope to gain by complaining to me?
I pondered this one.
Are they trying to get answers? If so, I feel suddenly proud! I'm a woman of the people, a real mouthpiece for Christians in the day to day world! They're coming to me in droves, seeking answers and wanting to know my opinion! Once I finish with the ticker tape parade in my mind and climb off the float, I have to actually figure out what my answer will be. Peter told us in his first epistle to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have". We are to give our answers with gentleness and respect.
Instead, to my shame, I feel I jump right in with critizing other Christians. Not myself, of course, (of course!), but the very conservative Christian Right. They are a very easy target, I think. I can get away with saying how badly they handle things, and I can say, "Don't worry! Not all Christians are like that!" And then I can go on to say how cool my church is and other great things like that.
But then a little nagging feeling sets in. I really don't think it's such a great idea to castigate the practices of other Christians in the presence of a non-believer. In the interest of getting them to understand that I know where they're coming from, I feel like a traitor in the ranks of the larger worldwide body of believers. Because truly, we all believe the essential things. I'm sure we could all recite the Nicene Creed together (and those who couldn' t would at least heartily agree with what it said). We are a brotherhood, a family, a body. We are the ecclesia.
And so the next time I get the urge to bash other Christians, no matter how bad their behavior, I will limit it to my writing, and not do it in front of a non-believer. After all, they will know we are Christians by our love, and not by our arguments...no matter how pithy they may be.