Don’t judge Christianity by its negative attributes, but by its beauty
Years ago, a survey was conducted across America, asking people what they thought of when they heard the term “Christianity.” The number one response was “homophobic,” and other top responses included “judgmental” and “restrictive.” The top associations for Christianity were negative. Not negative in the sense that they were derogatory to our faith, but that they defined things we were against rather than things we are for.
Sure, the Christian doctrine may seem restrictive and anti-a lot of fun things from the outside, but is the heart of the faith to simply put more limits on what we can do with our bodies, our time, and our lives? It’s near impossible (actually…it’s just impossible) to build a religion of 2.1 billion people simply by stating what we are against.
In other words, if those are the only perceptions of Christianity, they must be missing something that is actually attracting people to the faith. Something positive. Something better than sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, and everything else we give up in order to pursue Jesus.
The light has shone into the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Think about this metaphor in terms of positive and negative, or in terms of substance and absence. Darkness does not refer to the presence of darkness; it only refers to the absence of light. When you turn on a light switch, the darkness cannot decide to push back against the light. It has no substance; nothing to fight back with against the light. If we apply this same concept to Christianity, Jesus is the light. He is the substance of our belief and our reality. You cannot build a belief system out of negative statements the same way you can’t use darkness to accomplish anything positive; there is nothing there to build with.
An old pastor of mine said that most people leave the church or stay away from it because they miss Jesus. They miss the beautiful Thing which draws us to Himself and makes us stay. Sure, someone could be persuaded with reason or archaeological evidence, or worse, guilted into the church with fear. But the essence of Christianity is being drawn to the beauty of the Person of Jesus to the point of forsaking everything else.
When people realize His beauty and worth, they naturally forsake everything else. It’s like they realize they were holding onto shadows, opening their fists to realize they’re empty. At last, we have something solid to cling to! How much better is this than the negative diet of darkness and illusion!
To judge Christianity by its restrictions is like judging light by its shadows.
Christianity encourages beauty and creativity. It loves both justice and mercy, and even claims that those who are not just or merciful do not know God. It loves productivity and hard work, as well as rest and recreation. It loves strong, healthy families and integrity. It has more to say to this culture than any other belief system, and each of those statements could be full blog series on their own.
To dismiss Christianity because of its negative aspects at the expense of understanding the positive things which actually draw people to itself (to the person of Jesus) is to miss the essence of the religion itself. It saddens me that people are deterred from Him because of the misconceptions of the faith.
Jesus makes it clear that He has come to set us free; perhaps the things we thought represented our freedom are in fact the very things enslaving us. What if we actually believed He is better than all of our sexual fantasies or illusions of wealth and ‘the good life’?