The World Doesn’t Need More Perfect Christians, Just Authentic Ones
I am just going to come right out and say it, Christians can be fake.
If I have just caused you to squint your eyebrows, first you need to understand that I am one of you. I’m not just an Easter and Christmas Christian. I’m not the Christian who only thinks Scripture is good for Instagram selfies. I’m hardcore. I’ve read through the Bible cover to cover more times than I’ve binged on Back to the Future, and trust me, that’s a lot. I attended church school for the majority of my education and I play Bible trivia games for fun. I can answer which servant of Saul introduced David to Mephibosheth without using google. (Ziba. Thanks for playing).
This isn’t a criticism of the church from the outside, this is coming from someone who can turn to a song in the hymnal faster than you can locate it on Pandora. I feel more romantic about Christ each day I’m alive, and so I hope we can be adults here and have a real conversation: Oftentimes, Christians are fake, and it’s a turn off.
When I first decided I was really going to do this religion thing I too thought that this meant I had to be perfect. Time-hop will graciously show me my old status updates and I legit want to throw up in my mouth each time. I was like a sugar-coated peep dipped in caramel then slathered in chocolate icing: too sweet. No one’s buying that.
I didn’t want anyone to question whether or not I had a sincere relationship with God, and so I tried to say the right thing, at all times, and even felt a need to prove to people that I was a good person. Somewhere along the way I think God was like, “K girl. Chill out,” and I went through the strangely difficult process of allowing myself to be who I actually am. I tried to be the perfect Christian, and it turns out that God just needed me to be myself.
“I have spent the last couple years focusing on showing God who I am, rather than other people. I’d say that it was easy, but it wasn’t. My natural instinct is to love the crowd, the compliments and attention.”
I know I am not alone in this because hello newsfeed! I see it all the time. Christians trying to outdo one another in their Christian-dom. Everyone pretending they have it all together. Making sure that every good deed doesn’t go without a notification and photo-op. But look fam, that’s not who Christ was. The Bible says to give in such a way that your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand has done. Christ didn’t wait till there was a crowd to begin his sermon. He would get so lost in this compelling conversation with one person that others gathered. I had a professor who told me once that no one is ever converted from the pulpit. If you want to make an impact you have to get off the stage and start having some real conversations, with some real people, as the real you. You don’t have to post photos of your Bible or Hebrew tattoo to prove to people you like Jesus. Just be kind and respectful. Give to people who need it. Spend your energy trying to boost others, rather than looking for ways for others to boost you.
Live in such a humble, gracious, loving way that people just want to be next to you. All different types of people. Not just other Christian people. Because PS. That’s how that works.
Whenever we try too hard to convince others of something, I worry that we are actually trying to convince ourselves. I have spent the last couple years focusing on showing God who I am, rather than other people. I’d say that it was easy, but it wasn’t. My natural instinct is to love the crowd, the compliments and attention. But if you read through the Gospels, you will find very quickly that Christ actually let himself get lost in a crowd, wasn’t looking for compliments, and never sought out attention. The man was the embodiment of humility and if anyone should have acted like they walked on water…..uh well…Christ!
So stop faking it. Stop with the awkward sermonizing of pain. Stop smiling to people’s faces if you are going to whisper behind their backs. Stop pretending like your kids are perfect. Okay, so I totally do that, but only because they are under 6. How bad can they be? It’s too soon for me to worry about running random drug tests. Right now my biggest concern is getting them to stop leaving poop stains in their underpants. #THESTRUGGLEISREAL
Stop pretending like your marriage is perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m OBSESSED with my husband. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I have stood in the driveway in my skivvy’s screaming at his tail lights once or 10x in our marriage. My condolences to our neighbors.
Stop the holier than thou spiel. Stop the hypocrisy. Stop quoting 1 Corinthians 13:1 and then laughing at racist jokes. Stop pretending like you have never stubbed your toe and dropped an expletive (shut up we are all sinners).
Christianity is just about coming to God as you are, and hoping that each day, he will help you put a little more ‘good’ into a world with a lot of bad ju-ju. It’s about genuinely loving God and genuinely loving people.
The world doesn’t need more perfect Christians. But it does need more authentic ones.
Editor’s note: This essay was first published April 19, 2017, by The Spilled Milked Club.
Heather Thompson Day is a lecturer for Southwestern Michigan College, Purdue Tech University, and Ferris State University. She is the author of five Christian books and writer for The Spilled Milk Club. Facebook her, or check her out on Instagram.
Photo by Maria Eklind