Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Types of Christians

I met a man today that wouldn't agree to even a 30-second presentation I had prepared about the Bible. “No thanks, I’m set.” What I wanted to tell him is “Really?! That is amazing because I don’t even feel I am ‘set.’ Challenging myself every day to work on my imperfections, to remember to pray daily, to work hard at loving my neighbor, all of that is a challenge as an imperfect human.” But then he interrupted me again and said “If I got any closer to God, I’d have to die and be in heaven.” He explained that he goes to church and tries to be good. I finally got one point in. I wanted to choose my words carefully to see if he’d take the bait. I said: “Actually, there is at least one more step you can take before that extreme.” He looked at me puzzled. (I thought to myself “Good! I got his attention.”) I waited a moment to see if he’d interrupt me again. He didn't. So I continued “Years ago I concluded for myself that instead of merely going to church and listening to what someone else tells me God says, I needed to try reading the Bible on my own.” He admitted he hadn't done that. Like myself, he was retired from secular work so I encouraged him to sit down every day for only 10 to 15 minutes and start reading the Bible. He agreed it was a good idea.

After several hours, I sat and reflected on the experience. I thought of all the types of people I encountered in my lifetime. Here are the major categories:

Foxhole Christian: Those who, when faced with extreme circumstances, cry out to a God they may never have even believed in. (Compare Luke 12:16-21)

Armchair Christian: Those who love philosophy and expound on their intellectual viewpoints and engage in philosophical debates with others. It is more a game of mental chess, perhaps even playful banter, than a committed viewpoint. The end result is not to determine a course of action, but rather to see who can play the best game (of words).

Pew Warmer Christian: Those who go to church once a week to have their consciences appeased. They go, they listen and sing, they leave. “That’s it for God for this week, honey.”

Active-Authentic Christian: These regularly read their Bibles and make efforts to apply the Bible’s principles in their lives. They realize that Jesus was not about sitting in a church and then doing nothing with the experience to help others. Rather, they make efforts to speak with others about the Bible because of the seriousness of its message. These are the rarest and most authentically Christ-like individuals. They are humble and readily admit they are both imperfect and do not know everything. They realize that God gave each individual free will and a conscience. With that realization, they accept that people can choose not to believe as they do. God is the judge, not us.

Extremists: These are very opinionated and condemnatory of those not agreeing with them. They may resort to verbal, or at times even physical, abuse of those not bending to their viewpoints. In the days of the early Christians, they were the persecuted, not the persecutors. The Bible makes it quite clear that true Christians are not physical warriors.

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