As a follow-up to I’m a Born-Again Christian – It’s Not What You Think, I wanted to address the other stereotypes of Christians in general. As I mentioned before, I was guilty of having big-time prejudices and assumptions about Christians before I became one. So now that I’m on the other side, I wanted to take a look at these former thoughts and see if I fit the bill.
Stereotype #1: Born-again Christians are religious nut cases. The “Jesus-freaks,” the “Bible-thumpers,” the “Bible-bashers,” whatever you want to call them, these are the people warranting a big eye-roll and a shake of the head. From the flashy televangelists to the skater dude with a WWJD? shirt and a tattoo that says “Jesus Rocks!,” you want to steer clear of them. There’s usually a 5 minute window between starting a conversation with one of them to the time they bring up “The Man.” And another 5 minutes before they set out on their plan for saving your soul. They attribute everything from a good night’s sleep to getting a prime parking spot to Jesus.
Stereotype #2: Born-again Christians are lame. To quote that 80’s crooner Adam Ant, “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” These are the types of people who rave about their wild Friday nights playing Boggle with church friends. They dig coffee shops over happy hours and generally stay away from what us “normal” people consider fun. If their goal is to convert others, their lifestyle isn’t exactly making people rush to sign-up.
Unlike my total objection to born-agains being weak/gullible/stupid that I addressed in my former post, I have to admit that there might be some truth to the two stereotypes I listed in the above paragraphs. Bear with me now. I wouldn’t go so far as to label us Christians as lame nut-jobs but the perception that we are rather zealous in our expression of faith and we do appreciate a different sort of fun is not entirely untrue.
When I had my White Funeral, everything changed (except my taste in music, unfortunately – see Devil Records, Inc.). It didn’t happen all at once, after all the reason a White Funeral is in fact a funeral of sorts is because there is a sort of mourning for your old life. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to do…for fun I mean. My social life had centered around parties and long nights flirting with boys at bars. Would I have to trade all that in for Saturday nights at home reading the Bible? What I didn’t realize right away was that my personality had changed. I had this new emotion – joy - and I discovered that all those nights spent in the bar scene had actually been a search for that joy. If I got a little drunk, I had fun. The closest thing to joy I knew. And if I attracted the attention of guys, I felt fulfilled and wanted, or so I thought. At last that search was over. Spending time with God fulfilled me.
That’s not to say I never go out anymore. I do enjoy a nice little happy hour (without drinking) but quite honestly I prefer a quiet dinner with one or two good friends or even a game night with my church friends. I laugh. I appreciate being around people who like me because of me and who don’t want something from me. So, is that lame? If you think so, I just wish you could experience the kind of joy that that brings me. Which leads me to my next point…are Christians nut-jobs because we’re enthusiastic about our faith and want to share it?
Because I understand that many people think like I did before I became a Christian, I try hard not to push my faith on others. I know that coming on strong (or sometimes at all) will only make them run. It’s a touchy subject if someone is not “there” yet. No one could have sold me on Christianity. God had to put it in my heart to seek him. However it’s hard to stifle the bliss of being a Christian. We can’t help but want to share it. I see my former self in many people –brimming with underlying rage, confusion, chaos, desperation, searching. And I want so badly to make all that end for them. I want them to have peace like I have now. I know it’s not my place to fix it but I want them to know it’s possible. There is another way. So if we appear a little over-zealous, that’s why.
“Lord, I pray that You put the desire to seek You in the hearts of all those who need the peace that comes with Your gift of salvation. Please Lord, make them see that there is another way to live and help them realize that giving their lives to You does not mean limitations but freedom from all the hurt in this life.”