You Aren’t Thinking of Christianity

Christianity 
Line breaks: Chris|tian¦ity 
Pronunciation: /krɪstɪˈanɪti 
Verb

Here’s a hypothesis: When you think of Christianity, you aren’t thinking of Christianity, you’re thinking about a pre-conceived, societal construction of what Christianity is.

A word like the Bible might conjure up images in your mind of fire and brimstone falling from the sky, sexist ideologies and possibly even a really nice guy going around healing people and fishing and stuff. I guess we tend to forget that the Bible is a collection of books and letters written over a very long period of time in Hebrew and Greek containing some seriously revolutionary ideas. eg. “Love your neighbour.”…. No, sorry, I mean, “Love your enemy.”

Maybe we picture Jesus as a white hippie.

When we talk about Christians, we might think of fake smiles and niceties; No swearing and one beer kinda folk.

None of these images represent true Christianity. In fact, I don’t believe any image can represent Christianity.

This is my idea: For the Church to be truly Universal (katholikos) it cannot have an image.

Simply put, if I know someone who rocks out to Metallica and wears dark eyeliner, I have to believe that she can find a home in the Church without sacrificing the identity she relates to. If you recoil, perhaps it is because you have attached a label/idea to the music and symbols that go with a goth or rock image and they clash with your preconceived notions of what should and should not be seen in a Church?

That’s why I have a problem with contemporary “Christian Music”. It’s a box. You will like this music because you are Christian and you will sing this song because it is a worship song and you will be filled with joy, okay?

I don’t have a problem with people liking Christian Music, I even enjoy some of the songs. I have a problem with the label and the automatic attachment of the musical genre to the religion.

We’re not destined to be the Church of Same.

We are different parts that make up the Body of Christ ( an ancient spiritual text said this very same thing)

I’m not saying anything new but I feel that often people forget that Christianity is a “radical” religion. It calls its followers to some pretty high ideals. Christians are called to challenge, to go out into the darkness and bear light.

Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the world but also the most persecuted.

All over the world for centuries, Christians have given up their lives rather than renounce their faith. Would you label those people as “churchy types”? I’m sorry but you don’t do something like that because you really enjoy the music at church and the fellowship and the brownies served after Mass.
You do it because of one thing, one person, and His name is Yeshua.

Christianity is about Jesus and all our belief hinges on whether or not He rose from the dead. If He didn’t, then our faith is for naught, if He did, then I’ve got some serious soul searching to do.

Now, this is where I lose you. Oh, he said Jesus, I’m out of here before he starts singing Kumbaya.

Before you go consider this, as a Christian I should (should being the operative word) be willing to die for the person who considers me his worst enemy. I should rather he lives and I take his place if his life is threatened. Not because I have a death wish but because I recognise his inherent dignity as a human being. I recognise God within him.

This, for me, is the other vital element in calling myself a Christian. Do I live it?
Do people feel as though I genuinely want the best for them, that I genuinely want to improve the lives of those who are in need?

Christianity is a verb.

pro_cruciform
Fr Miguel Pro SJ – Moments before his execution by firing squad. His last words, “Viva Cristo Rey!” -“Long live Christ the King!”  Image source

Now, here’s the catch. Most of us, including me, don’t come close to living up to these ideals. We struggle to love sacrificially.

But here’s the catch of the catch. That’s okay.

This is the asterisk next to the Ten Commandments. Give it your best shot but if you mess up it is not game over. The reason for this is, again, Jesus. God became man to show us how to live and also how to love. He chose to die for all the terrible things that people do in the world so that the people who do those terrible things might have a shot at redemption. Because God believes in us more than we believe in each other. If there was only justice and no mercy in this world, it would be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and everyone would be blind and toothless.

Without Mercy, Christianity is like a Convent boarding school, but without the ideals, Christianity is the ’60s.

So, hidden behind this societal preconception of what Christianity is, is a religion that calls its followers to love together, to suffer together, to forgive unconditionally, and to lay down their lives in service of those who are in most need of help.

That is Christianity. That is my religion.

Open Doors USA

*Disclaimer: The point of this post is to provide a rounded, general introduction to what I feel Christianity is and how it should be lived. It is not a doctrinal statement or theological argument but a personal reflection on some complex ideas which I don’t claim to fully understand.

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4 thoughts on “You Aren’t Thinking of Christianity

  1. When came to Metallica, Christian music… I remembered a fabulous concert once in our Parish in Geneva. A man who used to be the drummer for U2, an ex-addict who was now dying of cancer, came with two or three of his friends, long-haired guys… And they started playing. Now, I don’t know whether you have ever been to a Cursillo retreat. I have. During a long retreat, one listens to a series of ‘rollos’, witnessing on specific topics. When our friend the drummer started a solo (I’m sorry I forgot his name), he gave me the best rollo I ever heard (without words of course, just music). All of this man’s soul was in it. It was breathtaking…
    I like your post. I will come back to it. There is so much in it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for sharing that story and thank you for reading! I’ve had powerful moments of encounter listening to secular music in my room. Even instrumentals. Music is definitely a transcendent art form, somehow!

    Liked by 2 people

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