Sunday, July 22, 2012

What does it mean to be a true Christian?

Are you ever ashamed to identify as a Christian?  Do your friends and acquaintances have negative associations with what "Christians" are and how they go about spreading their message to the world?  If so, maybe it's time for a reminder of what it means to live as a true Christian in this world.

Think for a moment about times you find yourself coming into conflict with others - perhaps others who identify as Christians, or perhaps others who want nothing to do with the church.  If they mistreat you (maybe because you're a Christian; maybe because you're gay; maybe for an entirely different reason), how do you respond?

When you read this passage, keep two things in mind: 1) In what ways can you change your own behaviors and attitudes to follow Peter's advice here?  2) If all Christians behaved as Peter suggests, how might the world's opinion of Christianity change?

1 Peter 3:8-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For,

The one who desires life, to love and see good days,

Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.

He must turn away from evil and do good;

He must seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,

And His ears attend to their prayer,

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.

Often, as gay Christians, we are misunderstood by fellow Christians who cannot understand how we can be gay and Christian, by the LGBT community who do not look at the infinite and awesome love of God but at the hatred by those so-called Christians who also do not look at God's infinite and awesome love, or by the various other people who see gay and Christian as oxymorons.  However, we know God's truth. We read it in his word.  We feel it in our hearts.  We are truly blessed by God's love and should be eternally grateful for that love and thank God in our prayers for his love and blessings.


Happyman said...

Speaking as a former christian, I have been too damaged by "Christians" to ever consider being one again. Everyone must decide on their own what to believe. My not being christian has nothing to do with my ability to be a compassionate loving person. Unfortunately many people in this country don't understand that many self proclaimed christians are the least loving and compassionate people on the planet. I have much love in my life, but it has nothing to do with god. The assumption that people must believe in god to live a happy, fulfilling and joyfull life is simply wrong.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the clowns at the American Family Council, Westboro Baptist Church, and all the other hate groups can't concentrate on THIS passage of the Bible instead of the one in Leviticus. Christians would have a much better name. It seems that every reference to Christianity in the news today is a bad reference - at least to everyone they seek to repress which seems to be everyone that THEY PERSONALLY don't like based on whatever criteria they've chosen to use as a basis for that hate.

I am a Christian, but I don't confess to it often. Perhaps if I didn't see friends grimace at every reference to Christian groups on the news spewing hate and oppression, I could more easily be "out"!

Peace <3

Vilges Suola said...

'What does it mean to be a true Christian?' Well, that one's going to run and run - you don't expect an agreement any time soon, surely? 'Turn away from evil and do good' is obviously wide open to interpretation, and against whom is the face of the Lord turned because they do evil? For many Christians, it's you and me, the faggots. Paul himself is unequivocal on that score.

From the Jain patriarch, Mahavira: 'Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torture or kill any creature or living being.' Those 15 words are worth more than the entire Bible.

naturgesetz said...

Very good, Joe.

gerry said...

good post and a great starter for conversation.

I am Christian, and profess faith in Christ Risen who remade the world. I am an Episcopalian and a long time supporter of Marriage Equality. My personal ministries are to the homeless population and those dealing with HIV and Aids.

I am a Bi Married Man, happily married for 25 years to the only woman I've ever loved. She's known about my sexuality since before I proposed.

I have been called faggot, poofter, pansy, queer, etc. I take no offense and usually tell the taunter that I prefer to be called queer if he called me faggot, or pansy if called poofter, you get the picture. They're usually struck speechless.

When you ask about Peter or Paul or the Leviticus author, my response is those words are the words of men and not the words of Jesus Christ...

May you know the peace which passes understanding...

Coop said...

I am in agreement with Jay M. I sometimes wonder how the Westboro Baptists, American Family Council, and so on and so forth can call themselves Christian. They ignore what Jesus had to say about loving one another and his compassion for people who were suffering.

I recognize that the old testament is important; but I don't find all the rules and commandments to be important in my life. The son of GOD has risen.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Joe. Totally agree. Peace.

charmngbilly said...

thank you for a wonderful and graceful post.