Like it or not, culture shapes our picture of Jesus. If we don’t identify false stigmas and misconceptions, we will devote time and energy cultivating a value that isn’t Christian.
Here are three Christian values that aren’t really Christian.
Christian Value #1? Perfect church attendance.
I’m still healing from years of unhealthy exposure to this false Christian value. Faithful Christians didn’t miss worship. Ever. They never missed small group. They didn’t miss any church function. Period.
Gathering with Christians matters, of course. But it’s very possible to have perfect church attendance and know very little about God. Much like perfect school attendance doesn’t guarantee good grades.
God is much more concerned with the condition of your heart than the location of your butt.
Christian Value #2? Following the rules.
I grew up equating rule following with Christ-following. Good Christians didn’t break rules. They didn’t miss curfew, cheat on tests or drink alcohol. Oh, and they didn’t curse or have tattoos.
A perfect driving record doesn’t qualify you as a Christian any more than an alcohol addiction disqualifies you.
Besides, some rules need to be broken. They’re faulty and oppressive. Rather than equating righteousness with rule-following, let’s equate righteousness with Jesus.
“Christian Value” #3. Never doubting or questioning God.
Growing up, doubting God or questioning the Bible was disrespectful at best, and blasphemous at worst.
Because of this, my faith journey was framed by an unhealthy picture of God. In my mind, God was this divine being with an enormous limb (probably one he picked from The Tree of Life). Positioned like a power hitter in baseball, He waited for someone to question him so he could smash you over the left-field wall.
Then, in college, doubt chiseled away at my faith. I wasn’t sure how to process the hard questions. I couldn’t talk to God. He was mad. I couldn’t talk to other Christians. They would tell me to pray harder.
Then I found a life-saving book. Psalms.
Psalms painted a different picture of God. Faithful men doubted and spoke “matter-of-factly” to God. He didn’t destroy them. He walked with them. He was patience and understanding.
I still question and doubt. The God of love allows space for this. He stays with me through it and celebrates when I reach the other side.
If your God doesn’t allow room for doubt, He’s not worth serving.
Christians with doubts and questions aren’t lacking faith. In fact, I would say doubt is an unavoidable by-product of growing closer to an infinitely powerful and knowledgeable God.