*Clay just said, "It's true. I checked." *
You could base all kinds of assumptions on that one little word (some of them beautiful, some of them ugly), but you would know very little actual truth pertaining to my world.
If I say, "I'm a 39-year-old wife and homeschooling mother of two boys", the picture becomes a bit more clear. Actually, it could also become a bit more skewed since I do not, in fact, wear denim jumpers/grow my own food/hate public school/have insanely backward kids or drive a van that says "Find Jesus today or burn in Hell forever"- all of which could pop into someone's mind when they hear 'homeschooling mother'.
My point is that there is a very broad spectrum to most descriptions; so unless people crawl into each other's worlds, they know nothing.
One of the primary words used to describe me REALLY makes me squirm when I think of the conclusions that people might jump too. (They can make even the homeschooling mom assumptions seem mild).
The word is "Christian".
Sure, people will assume that Christ and the Bible are part of my belief system; but other than that, they know nothing unless they take the time to sit a spell...and have a conversation.
Even while being a Christian, I try not to assume what people are thinking when they use that word to describe themselves. Its connotations are just too far-reaching:
- Some Christians seem to have sentimental attachments to Christianity and wear the title with pride without living out (or even knowing) what they profess to believe. (It's kind of like me living in Indiana and wearing my Ohio State Buckeye sweatshirt with pride. I was raised in Ohio. I grew up KNOWING that Michigan is "bad" and that the Buckeyes are "good". Even though I can't list one member on the team or even name the coach, I still call myself a fan. I'm not a fan. I'm clueless, but I have sentimental attachments to Ohio.)
- Some Christians seem to wield their faith as a weapon. These believers tend to focus on the 'right and wrong' they have been taught. Sometimes these are good-hearted people with loving intentions, but things get a bit twisted as they focus on rules rather than hearts. Sometimes, they are not so good-hearted. They have an agenda and plan to use faith to accomplish it. Society sees this group (both sides) pulling out their big, heavy Bibles to smack people over the head until they agree with them. They come across as trying to dictate and legislate lives. People don't tend to respond well to that.
*sidenote* This type of Christian often glosses over the Biblical Jesus who gave others the freedom to disagree with Him and even deny Him. Jesus was gracious with unbelievers, focusing on their hearts more than their actions. (He did get harsh at times...but it was generally directed toward church leaders who proclaimed their own righteousness while condemning others.)
- Some Christians seem to have genuine love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:5) Their humble, Christ-centered beliefs are evident to all who spend time with them. They stand out because they serve. They invite others into their homes. They have conversations. They allow others to disagree with them...and still keep hanging out with them.
Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason...and this is just the surface that I've scratched.
It appears to me that loving, Spirit-filled neighbors and servant-hearted, peace-filled coworkers are not the Christian "norm." If you disagree, you may want to watch more TV or check out my Facebook page (especially during the most recent political race - ouch). It seems that not enough LOVE has been spread by Christians to counteract the twisted faith that is so often represented in the media.
How awesome would it be if we would change that?
One of the first steps to change could be to stop wasting time with our own assumptions.
It is probably much more beneficial to focus our energy seeking out truth.
If we assume, let us assume that we have more to learn from each other, further to travel on our own journeys, and that we don't know NEARLY as much as we think we do.
That might be a good start.