Last summer, when author Ann Rice made the bold statement, “I quit Christianity,” I was saddened but did she have a point?
Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Best selling author of the dark side and former atheist, Ann Rice agreed. She converted to Christianity 12 years prior but became fed up with Christians. Her main beef was that Christians are most known for what they are against, not their love. “It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For 10 years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
Christ said we would be known by our love. But are we?
When I read the report in The Guardian, it was clear that Ann Rice did not given up on Christ, but didn’t like the way His followers represent Him. Thus, she didn’t want to identity with Christians. I understand her point, but we must also consider the whole counsel of God. Christ put us in a body He called the church, in order to sharpen, to mold and constantly test our hearts and character. Like living in a family, we practice our Christianity in that group. And I for one, do not always get it right.
It would be easy to be a Christian alone on an island.
But we live in community and don’t give up on the church. Just because we fall short, we don’t throw in the towel. Dealing with Christians furthers our dependence on Him.
Every group has people who don’t represent it well. Christianity is no exception. Television evangelists have said plenty that made me cringe. But we don’t give up on the group because a few unbalanced people say ridiculous things.
The issue at hand is how we deal with sin in our lives and culture. The way we deal with it matters. Christians who take stands on biblical issues don’t always do it in love. Then they are accused of being intolerant. Intolerance is often code for no standards. Let everyone do what he or she wants and don’t judge–the mantra of this generation.
But we must identify sin and help each other live more like Christ. Yes, people can be haters and overly judgmental, even zealous over biblical principals that violate morality. Some are off in their theology and understanding of the true character of God. God judges sin but is also a God of love.
So rather than judge and disdain Christians (the very thing that Ann didn’t like about Christians), let’s lovingly correct and bring each other to a better understanding of what Jesus’ meant when He told us to love our neighbor. That’s what we do here-doing life together–have a dialogue regarding things that impact us everyday as we live for Christ. Let’s do it in love, but that doesn’t mean we never take a stand.
Being a Christian means you hold biblical standards. Those standards are under attack today. People confuse standards for judgment. We are to judge behavior according to biblical standards. The bible is full of how to live your life when you are a Christ follower. And Christians aren’t perfect. Daily I need his grace.
My message to Ann Rice then is this. Rather than abandon the church, why not help Christians follow Christ in a way that is kind and loving. Use your incredible power of the pen to craft the words in ways that build up the body, not tear down. Many well-meaning Christians struggle with knowing how to take a stand for Truth (which we believe exists) without constantly being accused of being judgmental. There is a fine line, one we need to walk in love.
So I’m glad Ann didn’t quit Christ. But I’m not going to quit the church. Christ thought enough to die for His bride. I’d rather be a part of the church that loves and takes a stand when necessary. And remember, like any family, we have dysfunctional members!