I thought this post from last year (4/19/10) was worth another look. I hope you will too. It’s a bit of a riff on the question asked by the prophet Micah: “What does the Lord require of you?” (Micah 6:8) In the light of last week’s discussions on “radical” and other adjectives we apply to Christianity, these words came back to my mind. I’ve made a few minor editorial changes to the original post.
I hope this will come as a bit of good news to you today. Maybe it will help you stop beating yourself up unnecessarily. I hope it will help us all to that end.
What I have to tell you is:
It’s OK to just be a Christian.
It’s OK to just be a person who knows and is thankful that God loves you and gave his Son for you.
It’s OK to just be a person of the cross, to know that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again for the world’s salvation.
Really, it’s OK.
It’s OK to be someone who only really cares about trying to love God and love your neighbor.
It’s OK to think that the Apostles’ Creed is a comprehensive enough statement of faith for you, and that you are willing to have fellowship with other people who think the same.
You don’t have to be a certain kind of Christian. Adjectives like “reformed” or “conservative” or”emerging” or “missional” or “radical” or “passionate” or any number of denominational or theologically constricting labels are not necessary.
It’s OK just to love Jesus and be thankful for what he’s done for you.
You don’t have to go to a “cool” church with a name like “Revolution” or “The Rock” or “Journey” or “The River,” though it’s certainly OK if you do. Your plain ol’ First Presbyterian or First Baptist or First United Methodist will work just fine too. It’s also OK if you attend St. Peter’s and your pastor waves incense around, or St. Basil’s, where intriguing icons invite your contemplation.
It’s OK if you don’t listen to Christian music, shop in Christian stores, wear Christian t-shirts, go to Christian conventions, become a Christian homeschooler or send your kids to Christian schools, patronize Christian businesses, participate in Christian causes, read Christian books, or identify yourself with Christian organizations. You can be a Christian without all that, it’s OK.
It’s OK if you don’t have a big library of theological books or Bible commentaries. It’s OK if you struggle reading through the Bible, because you can’t even make it past Genesis 5 because you can’t pronounce that long list of funny names. A great multitude of believers over the centuries never even saw a Bible, except maybe up front in a church somewhere, and even then they couldn’t read it. Guess what? God knew them and they knew him anyway. How about that?
It’s OK if you have no idea what it means to “engage the culture,” or “have an impact in the world.” You may not really understand what “social justice” is all about. If you’ve never been in a small group or taken a missions trip, never had your spiritual gifts inventoried, never tweeted the pastor during a message and wouldn’t know a PowerPoint sermon if it bit you, it’s OK.
I don’t think it really matters if you know John Piper from Piper Laurie, N.T. Wright from the Wright Brothers, YEC from NAACP, or Willow Creek from Nickel Creek.
You are OK if you stay out of the culture wars. Culture wars? You’re too busy visiting your neighbor who’s in the hospital, taking some food to the family, coaching that little kid who doesn’t have a dad, writing a note to a friend who’s discouraged, making coffee for the congregation on Sunday morning, volunteering at the school, mowing the lawn of a shut-in. Fact is, you’re smack dab in the midst of the real battle, the one those who do all the talking often avoid like the plague.
Oh, by the way, it’s OK if you say, “I don’t know” when people ask you about the burning issues of the day. It’s OK if you don’t have a strong opinion on gay marriage or stem cell research or global warming.
And it’s even OK if you are a bit fuzzy on your theology. If you can’t give a precise formulation of the doctrine of justification by faith or distinguish between the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed teachings on sanctification, you’re still gonna be OK. If you think “rapture” is what you felt on your wedding day, and have no idea of its theological meaning, that’s OK.
It’s OK to say, “I don’t know. Doesn’t make you less of a Christian.
Love to receive communion because you meet Jesus there, but have no idea how to explain it? In my opinion, that’s OK.
Because you trust in Jesus.
You know in your heart that you’re broken and need fixing.
It’s clear to you that he is the only one who can forgive your past, enliven your present, and guarantee your future.
And in response you have found simple ways to worship the One who means everything to you, with others who feel the same.
That’s what you know, and that’s who you are.
You’re just a Christian.
And that’s OK.
By the way, if you know someone like this, you might want read this post to them, because I have an idea they have no clue what the “Christian blogosphere” is, and they will probably never find my words.
That is perfectly OK with me. They’re gonna be OK.