There are preconceived ideas floating around about what a Christian is and isn’t. I am most certainly not the end all and be all of answers here, but from my experience and knowledge of what a Christian should and shouldn’t be, let me make a list of a few myths for everyone today. I am sure this may spark some conversations and hopefully help to clarify this thing we call “Christianity”. These aren’t in any specific order, just placed as I write them now…so here goes.
Myth #1 – “Salvation saves my soul and after conversion there is no need for further repentance or spiritual growth.”
Let us be clear.
Salvation is just the first step towards spiritual growth. Without Salvation we are lost, but at the moment of conversion the Holy Spirit begins this transforming work within us. To say that we only need repentance once and that growth isn’t needed is foolish and closes the door to a deeper, more fuller relationship with God. We should also look more closely at the need for further repentance. Repentance is crucial in our continued growth as Christians or Christ-followers. As Spiritual maturity takes root in our lives so must we come face to face with lingering or flawed recesses of our hearts, souls and minds. These are fragments of the old life still living within us. The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us towards Holiness which is the image of Christ, but we cannot fully realize this until we are willing to repent and surrender these lingering fragments. Continued repentance is crucial for our continued spiritual growth.
Myth #2 – When you become a Christian you are no longer allowed to have fun
This may sound funny to you, but I’ve heard it said of Christians that once you become “saved” you have to stop having fun. Sorry to tell you this, but some of the craziest (by crazy I mean funny) people I know are Christians. I believe God has a great sense of humor (afterall He created you and me didn’t he?) and so did Jesus. I can almost hear even a sense of sarcasm in some of Jesus’ words at times. Humor is vital to life. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves and revel in the frivilous from time to time. The fellowship of believers shouldn’t only be about serious content and plastered frowning/pious faces, we should also seek to have fun in this life as well! I seriously think that many people who are not Christians think we all wear funny clothes, and sit around singing hymns in latin. If that was the case, perhaps I would seriously think of heading for the exit as well. But I know Christians who are just plain down to earth people. These same people have a very humorous, sharp sense of humor. When people become Christians and embrace faith in Christ they do not (or should not) lose their sense of humor. Humor is not only refreshing but many times intrinsic to a person. It is almost like a fingerprint and is essentially tied into the identity of that person.
Myth #3 – Christians are just out for YOUR money.
Let me just say how much I despise certain types of Televangelists who prey on the false hopes of the weak. These charlatans will tickle the ears just enough to score another buck from the naive and the hurting. This type of Christianity is more parlor trick than it is an accurate reflection of a real Christ-follower. I usually stay away from churches that essentially beg for more and more money. There is a big difference though between the discipline of tithing to the Lord and supporting a ministry that uses much of its funds to empower and provide luxury to the pastor/televangelist. One should consider the fruits of the labor within those “religious” entities and look very closely at where the funds go.
Christ certainly didn’t go around asking people to give Him money. He did ask of a Samaratan woman for water and He did ask His disciples to do extraordinary things, but money was not in the asking. Jesus did talk a lot about money and possessions but it primarily centered around the questions of “what possesses you? What are your idols? Does your material wealth and pursuit of such earthly riches consume all of your time?”
In the same way, we are to emulate Christ when it comes to earthly possessions and the uses of riches. Money can be a resource to help us provide for our families, to put food on the tables and to support missions of a loving and caring church. Christians are not…(or should I say) should not be all about the money, money.
Myth #4 – Christians are hate-mongers
I at times bristle at this accusation. In the same breath though I know that there are those segments of the Church (like the Westboro Baptist church – sorry to name names) who have made it a mission to condemn and judge any and every people group that they deem worthy of their condemnation. This is NOT the Christ that I know, and If Jesus had lived this way while on earth I doubt I would have followed Him. The harshest words that Jesus ever spoke were directed at the teachers of the law, the “religious” people of the day who knew better but certainly DID NOT live as they demanded others to live. Jesus’ message was one of hope and love and restoration. He breathed this into His disciples who in turn continued that mission throughout their lives regardless of the consequences (even death).
Jesus actively engaged Himself within many sub-cultures of His day even the outcasts who the “Religious” teachers despised. He went to the homes of tax collectors, he healed lepers, He talked with women of questionable backgrounds…His message was of love not hate.
Salvation doesn’t come to us by shoving Heaven and Hell down someone’s throat, but rather through real genuine concern and love. Any church out there that relays Christ’s message any other way other than love has misplaced His purpose for coming in the first place. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -John 10:10
There is a difference between preaching repentance within the realms of Salvation and preaching hate and condemnation. Christianity, if lived out in the hearts of the genuine Christ-follower, should reflect and possess the same aroma of Christ in His love for the sinner and the saint regardless of where they’ve come from.
Myth #5 – Christian are all hypocrites and gossipers
There’s a funny sign that reads:
Unfortunately the truth may hurt a bit at times, but there are no perfect people in church. The church should be a place where both sinner and saint come for Spiritual triage and are not judged or condemned by the “righteous”. Romans 3:10 says “There is no one righteous, not even one…”
Truth be told, it would serve the church and the church member well to bring this verse to mind when considering other children of God.
Can I say that the church never has this problem with hypocrites and gossipers? NO! In fact this may be the only myth that I think hits too close to home sometimes. BUT if Christians can be humble, truly humble and loving towards everybody who chooses to enter the church doors, what a real opportunity that would be! Think of the difference and what may transpire if this one small issue was completely eradicated from the Christian heart? How would lives be changed and transformed? Think of the opportunities to save souls!? The Church is NOT full of Hypocrites and Gossipers, although we certainly have our fair share.
These are just five myths about Christianity. There are many more, but for now this is enough.
For the Christian:
Consider what it means to truly be a Christ-follower. How you might be perceived (right or wrong) by those who have yet to make a decision for Christ. Be open minded, full of grace and purposeful with friends, family and neighbors who aren’t Christians. Remember we are not the judge, God is. Just as we are in need of His love and grace, so too are others who live in this world as well. Real evangelism doesn’t begin with a tract or a bullhorn, but with a handshake and a hug of compassion and genuine love. Get to know people. Spend time with them. Tear down these false perceptions by the way that YOU live and conduct yourself. There isn’t enough lip service in the world that can out-do faith in action!
For the questioning soul out there:
The Church should be a place of safe harbor to ALL people. Christ was the only perfect person who ever lived and He came to save us all. Don’t’ judge the merits of Christ by what you may have experienced (most likely bad experiences) in a church setting. Imperfect people exist in and out of church. People make mistakes, even Christians. I am not apologizing for all Christians, but I am saying this: be open minded and perhaps, just perhaps some of these myths might be debunked.
Thanks for allowing me time to share these thoughts.