What is a typical Christian? Depends on who you ask. I was going through the stations on my car radio yesterday when I heard the host of a show describing a person as arrogant, uncaring, uninformed and close-minded. He then said, “Typical Christian.” Although I have heard that expression before, it caught me off guard hearing it on a music station.
Last week, I spoke at the Florida Bioethics Network Conference in Miami. The syllabus included a brief bio of my education and experience. After I spoke, a young doctor came to speak with me. We had a great conversation, but it started out with the disclaimer, “When I saw your bio -- a Baptist pastor who went to Liberty University, I thought, this is not going to be any good. But you’re not typical. I actually learned something from you.”
Somehow, we’ve gone from being seen as dangerously committed people of The Way (Acts 9) and scripturally sound Christ-like-ones (Acts 11) to outright insensitive idiots. And we’ve done so in such great numbers that it has become our typical state. At least to the world, the ones we are trying to reach. We should ask ourselves, Are uncaring, uninformed, proud and condemning believers outliers or the norm? I think they are outliers, but to the world, they are typical.
Jesus warned us that the world would hate us because it hates Him. So, the more we are like Him, the more of an irritant and aggravation we are to those who will not hear the message of life, hope and peace in Jesus Christ. The world’s derision is to be expected if we are reflecting Christ, but I don’t think that describes the current dynamic. I think much of the world hates us because so many of us are hateful -- or appear that we because we are uncaring, unloving, prideful, unkind and eager to point a finger at their sin.
Jesus told us to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven. That’s a great tool for good, but because the world is watching, there is also potential for harm. If the world can see our good works, they can see our bad ones too. We may clean up our deeds, but they can still see our bad attitudes and hear our bad words.
If you ask the Barna Research Institute, “What’s a typical Christian?” the answer is not flattering. Its research shows that most of us don’t attend church weekly, don’t pray, don’t read our Bible, don’t witness, don’t tithe don’t refrain from sex outside marriage. That is a lot like saying “I’m a football player, but I don’t practice, don’t put on pads, don’t study the playbook, don’t ever get out on the field and I’m busy playing another game altogether.” Might be time to check and see if you are on the team.
If you ask the Lord “What’s a typical Christian?” His answer is both convicting and inspiring. Jesus said a Christian is someone who has denied himself, taken up his cross and is following Christ. That’s what typical is to Jesus. Can you imagine what America’s concept of Christianity would be if that were the way you and I lived?
May the day come when the world sees believers loving one another, living by God’s Word, ministering to those in need and faithfully sharing the gospel. When that happens, they will say “Typical Christians” as they are being drawn to glorify God and trust in Christ.
Let’s raise the bar of what’s typical,