Growing up, I saw Christians as dull, hypocritical, self-righteous, weird, unintelligent, and shady. That’s quite the judgement, huh? My perception was of course molded by my experiences (and then the subsequently internalized exacerbation of those experiences). I’m sure I had some pleasant run-ins, but unfortunately, the not so pleasant ones overshadowed them.
As I mentioned in An Unlikely Conversion, during the season right before I accepted Christ, I was surrounded by Christians and didn’t realize it until afterwards. These were amazing human beings whom I owe a great deal to and will never forget. They were nothing like what I experienced previously. They had scars they weren’t trying to conceal. They made mistakes they didn’t seek to justify. They had flaws they didn’t deflect. They had regrets they didn’t deny. They were REAL people, with REAL life stories. How refreshing!
All of a sudden I was able to see “these Christians” weren’t so bad after all. In fact, they were my kind of crowd.
As I began my walk with Christ (pardon the Christianese), I made all sorts of vows to never be like the Christians I experienced earlier on. I hope I’ve done a good job. Although I have definitely had some moments where I was beating people over the head with the Bible. Thankfully, they were gracious enough to forgive me.
But what does a Christian really look like?
In my opinion, a Christian looks like you and me. So for me, it was really awesome to see people who are sold out for Christ (also Christianese) who were covered in tattoos, had gauges in their ears, and wore pseudo grungy urban clothes like I do. It demystified the idea of Christians having to look a certain way to truly be Christian…not that I plan on walking around showing the paw print tattoo on my stomach. Don’t ask! I was 15 when I got it (LAWD help the babies). But it’s comforting to know that I am accepted as I am. Dag on paw print and all (lol)!
A Christian looks like a person who is known by their Christ-like character. I don’t care what people say, if I don’t see the fruit of the label they bear, they’re getting a swift side-eye. That’s probably not Christ-like but I think Jesus would approve (lol). I honestly don’t care if a person never knows that I’m Christian, as long as they felt loved, cared for, and upheld in truth (speaking what’s good and true- not just things to tickle their ear), I’m good.
A Christian looks like a person who loves sacrificially and seeks to honor every single person they come in contact with. Whether their deeds are publicly acknowledged or not. Someone who embodies 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
A Christian looks like the person you want around when you need friendship, consoling, encouragement, support, authentic connection, prayer, or even someone to crawl in the depths of the valley with you and just be present.
All of this is what I think of when I think about what a Christian really is (or should be). Not many things make me angry, but people bearing the label who don’t personify any of these things really burns me up. I’m not necessarily angry for their sake. They’ve made their decision. I’m more angry because of the damage I know it causes to others.
So for my readers who are Christian, let’s all measure ourselves against 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. And to my readers who are not, my prayer is that you will be exposed to far more true followers of Christ than otherwise. I assure you, it’s really something special!