Lately, when I’ve watched or listened to interviews with Christians, I’ve heard something like this: “I’m a Christian, and so I …” What follows invariably related to some of the major social or cultural battles raging today.
“I’m a Christian, and so I think X about illegal immigrants.”
“I’m a Christian, and so I believe X about gun control.”
“I’m a Christian, and so my stand on same-sex marriage is X.”
“I’m a Christian, and so I prefer for X political party.”
These are only a few of the kinds of statements that I’ve heard recently. I’m not concerned that people have strong opinions about certain things. Not at all. I am concerned, however, when these opinions or convictions are used to define what it means to be a Christian. Or, if these convictions do not define what it means to be a Christian, they are often used to divide Christians from one another.
I understand that this is not usually what people intend to communicate by these statements. I think they intend to communicate that because they are followers of Jesus Christ – and based on their understanding of who is and and how he wants them to follow him – they believe certain things about the world, and those beliefs affect their stands on various social, cultural, and political issues.
But, I think what others usually hear is this: “Christians believe X about that issue.” or “To be a Christian, you must believe X about that.” or “Jesus wants you to vote for X.”
Is that really what following Jesus is all about? Because that’s what we’re telling people (whether we intend to or not).
Believe it or not, most of the social issues that we’re dealing with today were also present in the first century AD (not only present, but prevalent and accepted). But, in Scripture, we never see Jesus’ name invoked to attack or defend a political, social, or cultural stance.
So, if being a Christian (a follower of Jesus Christ) is not about these things, then what is it about? What should we focus on when we talk about being a follower of Jesus Christ?