I remember the first time it happened to me. I’d let loose on someone who’d done something stupid and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with it. In response, someone who overheard my rebuke snapped at me: “Well, that’s not very Christian of you.”
There are few phrases in the English language that peeve me more than that. Tell me to shut up to my face, volley a dozen f-bombs in my direction, disparage each of my relatives in turn, but don’t even think about doubting my faith because that’s what you’re doing when you level that phrase at me.
As if being Christian meant being polite! Tell that to Jesus. He was constantly being upbraided by people who thought he’d crossed the invisible line into “not very Christian” territory, like when he called the Jewish rulers “hypocrites” or upended the tables of the money-changers and then whipped them out of the temple. Now THAT’S what I call being Christian!
So how did “being Christian” become equated with being a doormat or, even worse, a sniveling yes-man? Because a sniveling yes-man is not what I see in Jesus, and we’re supposed to be like him. Think of the early Christians – Paul, Peter, John. These were not sniveling yes-men, either. They wore their faith on their sleeve as if their lives depended on it, because it actually did. Being a Christian back then was a life-or-death proposition in areas where Christianity was outlawed. Do you think that they worried about being polite?
You’ve got to be kidding me.
They worried about saving people’s souls, not sparing people’s feelings. And we should do the same.
When being Christian began morphing into a social movement rather than a faith movement, the protocol on how to act started to emerge as a means of controlling people and keeping them in line. It was all about suffering in silence and being patient. That’s strange, because that’s not the sense I get of Jesus when I read the gospels, and that’s certainly not the Jesus I know and love as my big brother. Suffer in silence? I can hear him laughing even as I write this. And patience he had, certainly, at the right time and in the right measure. But he wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly, and neither should we.
So the next time some sniveling yes-man snidely remarks that your straight-talking approach to preaching the Word is not being very Christian, turn the tables on him and ask him exactly what he means. Remind him that Jesus was a revolutionary, and that his followers are expected to be also. Time is short in this revolution. We don’t have the luxury of politeness or stroking people’s egos. Special snowflakes need not apply. There are no safe spaces in God’s kingdom on Earth other than for spiritual safe spaces; feelings don’t get a free pass.
In the real world, being Christian is less about being polite and more about being a do-or-die messenger, like the one who gave everything he had to get the news to Athens of Persia’s defeat at Marathon. The messenger pushed himself so hard that he promptly died upon relaying the message. Now THAT, in my books, is being Christian.