From the Outside Looking In

Last week, I searched a famous question and answer site for questions about Christianity to get some insight into the way people think about those of us who follow Jesus. Yes, I’m aware the Internet, and especially Q&A sites aren’t cross-sections of society, but I still maintain the activity provided some valuable info.

I was surprised by the number of people who asked questions like, “Can you be a Christian and just believe Jesus was a good teacher?” Clearly there are many who think of Christianity as a set of rules and not who one follows. I see that inside the local church too. We seem to have a tendency to see how little we can conform to and still be saved. Or, as I have done, we tend to craft a religion with “me” in charge.

I also found a number of critical comments toward (probably) genuine Christ-followers. A number of questions asked or answered what people thought was wrong with Christianity or Christians. And for some of it, I have to agree.

One was critical because we don’t know what we believe. Many people do seem to attend church, just to get their box checked each week (or however often they come.) Many can’t explain why they believe. A number think that, if they’re really spiritual, they need to invite others to come to church.

Every time I’m challenged to invite my friends to come to church, I get uncomfortable. Some of that may be because I’m afraid. I’d like to think more of it is because I think very few people are looking for a church. Most people today have been-there and done-that. And a church is not the answer. Following Jesus is the answer. Many people chase the solution to a problem in their life and choosing to bend their life to follow Jesus is that solution.

Other criticism I read included that “we” don’t live what we claim to believe. There were a number of politically charged comments in both directions. In all, I came away a bit better informed about how others perceive those who call themselves Christian.

I’m responsible for one Jesus-follower. Today, God willing, I will pray for the people around me, look for opportunities to serve others in a way that makes Jesus known. And when I’m asked, I will explain my actions in the first person explaining why I act based on my beliefs.

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