I grew up in Sunday School.
A non-descript room with squeaky linoleum floors, wooden chairs arranged as neat and precise as we were expected to behave.
I can still hear our thin childish voices filling the rafters with unabashed joy during worship, chubby hands clapping and waving wildly with the actions, shouting about our Jesus.
One of the favourites—due to its tongue twisting nature and penchant for causing us all to escalate to a deafening yell by the end – was this one:
I am a ‘C’
I am a ‘C-H’
I am a ‘C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N’
And I have ‘C-H-R-I-S-T’ in my ‘H-E-A-R-T’ and I will ‘L-I-V-E E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y’
It’s still a mouthful. But proclaiming our Christian-ness proudly to the worn rooftops was considered essential to being a follower of Jesus. So I proclaimed with the best of them.
It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized the rest of the world wasn’t so happy or clappy about my Christian-ness. I typed “Christians are” into Google, and it generously filled in the word “annoying.” To be honest, that’s one of the more complimentary terms I’ve heard.
At first, these generalizations made me angry.
[Tweet “But over the past few years, Christians have left me annoyed. Devastated, actually. Heartbroken. And—most surprisingly—ashamed.”]
Because Christians don’t always behave like that roomful of bright-eyed kids, proclaiming the love of Jesus with open arms and soft-as-warm-butter hearts.
I know now that those who sin sometimes do hurl that first spiteful stone, that the all-important virtue of love is oft passed over for pride, that the fruits of the spirit are ignored for the temptation of being right, of not-so-divinely inspired interpretation of earthly justice being delivered, of flexing theological muscle.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Whether it’s the endless mud-slinging of the gay rights debate, the ten thousand precious children dropped from World Vision, or the countless women’s voices silenced in the church, comment sections on articles addressing these hot button topics have become violent public battle grounds.
For Christians to fight bitterly against other Christians. To accuse. To degrade.
In the name of Jesus.