Barney and Stigmatism

I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family.
With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you,
won’t you say you love me too?

They tell me that Barney was my favorite show as a toddler. I remember the stuffed Barney I carried around, but that’s about all I recall about my affections for the purple dinosaur. And I’m glad. Frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing to think I liked Barney so much. Why couldn’t my favorite show have been Sesame Street or anything else remotely less disturbing?

Lots of people work with, talk with, live life with Barney Christians. These are Christians with pasted smiles on their faces no matter what is going on in their lives. These are Christians who protest out the wazoo and then try to smooth out all the wrinkles by proclaiming love and peace and acceptance. These are Christians who listen only to Christian music and cannot tolerate a swear word and will belabor their points unwittingly till the cows come home… these are… nominal Christians, at best.

Lately, I’ve noticed how much other people’s stigmatism about Christianity has affected me on a daily basis, and has sucked me of my courage.

When co-workers come into my office and I happen to be listening to Christian music, I turn the speakers down or off, to avoid negative comments or stigmatism against Christianity.

I choke on my words as the prime opportunity comes to speak about God’s faithfulness in my life, because I don’t want others to tune me out and label me incompetent.

I laugh, albeit uncomfortably, at inappropriate jokes because I am tired of people saying, “Oh yeah, sorry Lindsey, we know you’re a good girl.”

All the while, I’m acting graciously, lovingly, helping whenever I can.

Thus, I curl myself up into a snail shell of obscurity. Wonder upon wonders, I ACT like a Christian without TALKING like one.

This is a paradox of what I’ve been taught my entire life! I’ve heard sermon after sermon about how we go around saying we’re Christians, but forget to act like one! Well, gosh darn it, I have the opposite problem. And I don’t think I’m the only one. I go around believing actions speak louder than words, but the fact is to be effective in this activism-bloated society we need to act AND to speak.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten that people can’t know who Jesus is until they know who Jesus is.

We can serve and love all we want, but there’s no guarantee someone is going to “ask you about WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.” There’s no guarantee they’ll see the light of Jesus in you just because you’re listening to them.

Ultimately, I am fighting the wrong thing.

I need to stop fighting against Christian stigmatism, and fight for the good news of Christ’s love. 

Maybe I’m embarrassed by what Christians (I include myself here) have done in the past. But I’m not embarrassed by what Jesus has done, what HE has worked in my life.

True Christians will not look like Barney, but nor will true Christians look like everyone else!

Be real. Be honest. Be loving. Be kind. Be relevant. Be yourself. And be vocal about your faith in the One who is most real, most honest, most loving, most kind, most relevant, and most Himself, because it may just be that right now nobody knows that you’re following Someone Else.

Everyone thinks you’re following you.

The Madness of God

God is insane. At least, to human eyes and ears and minds. Especially, many say, God as portrayed in the Old Testament is vindictive and hateful.

How abhorrent, if God had even an ounce of evil in Him. How absolutely unlivable.

Why skeptics and even Christians often fail to see the other side of the equation, which is the insanity of God’s unconditional, sacrificial love embodied in Jesus, is a blog post for another time.

I must say, many passages in Scripture leave me perplexed and in some cases, disturbed. Consider, for example, the time when God nearly killed Moses. When I come across accounts like these I automatically try to defend God’s goodness (as if He needs defending) by looking up cultural practices of the time, context, anything and everything that will assuage my fears that maybe there is some evil in God. That maybe I’ve got it wrong all along.

Most of the time, commentaries clear up the fog for me, but even if they didn’t, I must consider this. God has been around 10 to the nth power longer than I have. In fact, He was there in the beginning. He created the beginning of time, for goodness’ sake! My lame attempts at wisdom and understanding pale in light of the mysteries of God. In the timespan of eternity I am still a toddler in God’s nursery. I am a stroke victim being shown how to walk again. I’m a new employee in God’s business. Excuse me for going all frustratingly Job-like, but we cannot put God on the judgment stand. Well, we can, but good luck with that, since God is the Judge.

Let’s go deeper into a metaphor. Two weeks ago, I happily started my first day at a new job. Almost immediately, information came bubbling from all directions. My first day, I effectively learned how to do one thing…do inventory. A bit anticlimactic, considering all the information I had absorbed. Thankfully, my predecessor left me a manual, so that I could refer to it to know how to do some administrative tasks the right way.

It’s like this. While the manual was and is so very helpful, some of the things in the manual didn’t make any sense to me until my predecessor came in and explained it. Even then, some of the details of a process (like manipulating data in a database) still didn’t make sense why it had to be done that way. However, I trust that my predecessor is telling me accurate information because whereas I have not been in a position like this before and have no frame of reference, she had success in the position and wanted to help me have success too. Moreover, I understand the big picture.

So, as a parallel…

1. God has given me a manual for life (the Bible.)

2. Because of this manual, I understand the big picture. God explains very clearly the things that matter most…salvation, justification, sanctification, our mission, etc.

3. God does not always explain why He acts a certain way, but . . .

4. I can trust Him because He is the CEO of Redemption and I’m an employee-in-training

So I will follow Him as best I can, leaving the mysterious details to the Maker of Mystery.

I’d love to get your input in the comments below.

Are there any passages in Scripture that have consistently disturbed or confused you? How do you respond to the mysteries of God?