There’s a movement flowing through Christianity at the moment. A movement that perhaps was sparked by thought leaders like Brennan Manning, Martin Luther King Jr, Henri Nouwen, Marianne Williamson and Shaine Claiborne. The movement was set ablaze after the election when so many Christians, like myself, found it inexplicable that the GOP could be so heavily endorsed by the Evangelical Church. We simply cannot understand how the teachings of Jesus who told us to care for the poor, welcome the refugee, and bless the sick, can be fulfilled through politically conservative policies. This has become about so much more than one or two issues (abortion and gay marriage, for example) this is about tone. It’s about underlying motivations for policies. The motivations feel very un-Christian to us. It feels like many Christians just want people to follow their rules instead of truly caring about the people involved. This has created a great deal of angst.
This angst has caused us to start asking… Where is Jesus in all of this?
We’re starting to ask questions about Biblical context.
We’re starting to broaden our views of what the term “pro-life” means.
Best of all, we’re starting to throw-off the facade that being a Christian means to have it all together.
Surely, we are re-defining Christianity. Many of my friends have said lately that they don’t even want to take on the label of “Christian” anymore because of the connotations that come with that. The vibe that comes with this label is one that feels self-serving, self-righteous, self-reliant. This feels so wrong compared to the tone of Jesus who displayed humility, sacrificial love, and deep dependence.
So what does this new wave of Christians look like? Well…
We may cuss.
We may listen to secular music (and actually shudder at most pop-Christian tunes that feel contrived and commercial).
We may sometimes drink too much.
We may go out dancing at LGBTQ clubs.
We may give homeless people our phone numbers.
We may need a break from church some weeks and instead go for a hike to worship God in creation.
We may get tattoos that don’t have any deep spiritual meaning.
God forbid, we might even vote DEMOCRAT.
We’re dirty. And we just don’t give a shit about pretending not to be.
Because here’s the thing we’ve realized, God isn’t interested in A+ students. He’s interested in us loving Him and loving others. Period. We’re not worried about envy evangelism (that’s when you try to entice people to Christianity by creating a life that others are envious of). That’s a fools errand. Good people are not guaranteed a shiny, pretty life. We’ve realized that what makes Jesus so attractive is that He loves us even when we’re not. Because we are made in His image we are both broken and beautiful. We trust that through a continued relationship with Him, we will be molded into who we are meant to be but that we are also fully loved just the way we are. Admittedly, this is a tension that is very difficult to hold. But we’re tired of fabricating an image so that we can fit in with other Christians. We’re more interested in letting God use us right now, just as we are. And if he can use an adulterer/murderer (David) I think he can use someone who says “fuck” every now and then.
I have a lot of hope for this next wave of Christianity. This is a Christianity that will set people free.
But here’s a word of caution to my fellow Dirty Christians. It’s not for us to judge the old wave. There are good things there too. Here are some that I can think of:
-Dedication to tithing. (How can we keep money from being an idol if we don’t trust God in this way?)
-Loyalty. (We are called to stay united. We have to stick through our differences together, like family.We can’t judge other Christians for not being “accepting” and then turn around and not accept them. Just saying.)
-Scripture memorization. (While I don’t think that this should be done out of contrived duty, it can be done with the appreciation that God’s word is living and powerful.)
We also have to remember the concept of projection. If we see a flaw in another, it most likely means we struggle with that flaw ourselves. Not only is this a psychological concept, it’s a Biblical one (the whole log in your eye thing). We can be passionate but we also need to stay gracious. Our compassion isn’t only meant for the outcast, it’s also meant for our brothers and sisters.
So, onward, Dirty Christian. Don’t give-up on the Church, you’re re-defining it as we speak.