In the May edition of Sojourners Magazine there is a story titled Faith, Fear, and Courage. A Muslim man who has dedicated 20 years of advocacy to the poor and marginalized in South Chicago, normally feels very comfortable praying in public. But in December, that comfort changed to fear after some terrorists, calling themselves Muslims, committed a terror attack in San Bernardino. Muslims are not evil. In fact, their religion condemns evil. Since anyone can use the Muslim title, the rest of society unjustly stereotypes true Muslims and they are suddenly left afraid to pray publicly to the universal God of love.
Likewise, I’ve been forced to draw a line in the sand when it comes to describing my profession, or my faith. I have become intolerant of seeing the name “Christianity” associated with hate, discrimination, oppression, and domination. I am not that kind of Christian. When Christianity originated, after the resurrection, its sole purpose was to maintain and empower the teachings of Jesus Christ. And unfortunately, in the thousands of years since its formation, society has produced all sorts of makeshift understandings of what Jesus taught. And because of that, I must clarify what I mean when I claim to be a Christian.
All someone has to do is turn on the news and see the headlines, “Christians protest soldiers funeral,” “Christians refuse service,” or “Christians boycott Target.” Those headlines are wrong. I know they are wrong because I am a Christian that professes the teachings of Christ, and I therefore, would be ashamed to have part in any of those (newsworthy?) activities. The facts are apparent, not all are the same. There are Hateful Christians that hurl insults; Exclusive Christians that are unwelcoming; Misguided Christians that discriminate, and there are Christians that strive, like Jesus, to be gracious, open and peaceful. Jesus befriended the outcast and marginalized, he ate with sinners, he empowered the poor… and in all of it, he showed no partiality; he served us, encouraged us, and he blessed us.
Everyone has the right to live whatever faith they want, and that’s exactly why I clarify the kind of Christianity to which I direct my life. I’m a Progressive Christian. I take my faith seriously. It guides my attitude and actions, and it informs others what they can expect of me. I choose not to live in fear and domination, but rather, take courage and direction in the example of Jesus Christ – the Jesus Christ that reveals one loving God for the entire world.