May 26, 2017

It’s OK…to Just Be a Christian

By Chaplain Mike

MOD NOTE: Comments are closed.

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.

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 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.” Your plain ol’ First Presbyterian or First Baptist or First United Methodist will do. It’s OK if it’s St. Peter’s and your pastor waves incense around, or St. Basil’s, where intriguing icons invite you to meditate on them.

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—you can’t pronounce that long list of funny names.

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 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 staying 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.

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 an 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.

Baptized as an infant? OK. Dunked in the creek as a young teen? OK.

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.

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    It’s OK — to just be me?

    It’s OK to have a passion for astronomy, science fiction, and imaginary critters? To actually WRITE the stuff as well as just passively read it?

    It’s OK to play D&D? To want to marry and settle down like normal people?

    It’s OK to NOT be a YEC?

    It’s OK to just live?

    • Not only is it OK, HUG, we wouldn’t know what to do without you around here!

      • Christopher Lake says:

        What about Christians who like foreign films (yes, the ones with subtitles, hehe!), serious, challenging literary works, and many different, off-the-beaten-path genres of rock music? Actually, I’m not asking for affirmation; I believe firmly that it is “ok” for Christians to like such things! 🙂 From the reaction that one can get from quite a few Christians for enjoying such things though, one would wonder….

    • Yes, HUG, it’s OK to just be you. After all, who else would you be? Everybody else is already taken. 🙂

    • It’s only okay if you make your saving throw.

      • Wouldn’t that be “rank, hypocritical, perverse” “works-based” salvation?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It’s only okay if you make your saving throw.

        Then I’m doomed.

        I was the “Dice Implosion” (negative dice futz/saving throw jinx) of my original gaming group. They used to seat me next to the local Dice Explosion in the hope we’d damp each other out. Gamers are prone to dice superstitions…

    • Just realize that D&D and your “desire to marry and settle down like normal people” might be at odds with each other….

      • Oh, I had to laugh at that one.

      • Christopher Lake says:

        As a single Christian man in his 30s (not willingly though), I wonder if my love of philosophy and foreign films hasn’t kept me in this state. Many non-Christian women enjoy these things. I know that from my days in college. Where are the artsy, philosophically-minded Christian women? Maybe in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches?

        • I can’t speak for the Orthodox Church, but I do find that there are a lot of “artsy, philosophically-minded Christian women” within the Catholic Church.

          (I like foreign films too. I really enjoyed Amélie. I liked Chocolat too. And I like the Bollywood movies! I don’t mind reading subtitles. Sometimes I will put the captions on movies where there is a heavy accent of some type. Like in the movie Dear Frankie, which had a heavy Irish accent, I needed the subtitles. I loved that movie!)

        • Hmmm,

          An Internet Monk dating thread/page? 🙂

          Hi, My name is Mike, I like canoeing, camping, and hikes in the Forest. Musically I like Steve Bell and Bruce Cockburn.

          Did I also mention that I am very happily married? Didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. 🙂

          • Oh, I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea either, Michael! I mention my hubby enough that I think regular readers will remember I am married, but maybe not. (He doesn’t like foreign films as much I do, though. He doesn’t like to read the captions.)

            Oh, and I like Bruce Cockburn very much. Wow, we are really taking this off-topic, eh? Sorry, Chaplain Mike. A little bit of levity is a good thing, though.

          • I remembered that you were married Joanie,

            Which is why I replied to Christopher, and not you. Didn’t want to imply that you were looking. 🙂

          • Christopher Lake says:

            Thanks for the encouragement, Joanie! I just have to believe that there are women out there with your tastes who aren’t married or in serious relationships! Mike, sorry for the off-topic detour, hehe! 🙂

        • Because they are taught that these are not appropriate interests.

          http://www.cbmw.org/

          • Christopher Lake says:

            Actually, David, I can somewhat see your point, but I think it’s a bit of a caricature of the complementarian view.

            I would describe myself as a “moderate complementarian” (i.e. moderately conservative/traditional, in terms of male/female roles in marriage… not as conservative as the CBMW, but not egalitarian), but that doesn’t change the fact that I still long for a wife who can challenge me, intellectually, and who shares at least some of my interests. Sigh… a philosophically-minded Christian woman who likes foreign and/or indie films– are there any who aren’t married or soon-to-be married?

        • To Christopher Lake: since the original post is now 5 days old, not many people may say this (maybe not even you!) but I just thought I would check Amazon to see what the editorial review of Amélie was like and they start it out with, “Perhaps the most charming movie of all time, Amélie is certainly one of the top 10.” Wow, that’s quite a statement. It’s been a while since I saw it, but I do remember being charmed by it.

    • David Morri says:

      It’s OK to play D&D?

      Only if you roll 8 or more on a D20 😉

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Remember you’re talking to the Dice Implosion of Expeditions Ltd, Cal State Fullerton, 1976-80.

  2. Can I just say how happy I am to see that Denise is here with us? I feel better than I have in several weeks just to share with my sister.

    Re; the post, there are times when I wonder how much of my guilt is legitimate, and how much is completely ridiculous. Michael once tried to help me let it go, but it seems like the patterns that develop in the first 20 or so years of your life are difficult to change. I know I belong to Jesus but I don’t know that I’ll ever have complete and total peace on this side. There’s just too much Christian judgment in my face all the time. And, for that matter, there are things I need to change.

    All the same, I love this post Mike!

  3. Thank you Mike for picking up the torch and continuing imonk.com. And thank you for this post. Simple and a beautiful reminder. It’s helpful to know I’m not the only one.

  4. I’m going to go out on a limb here, having read the comments, and having first-hand knowledge of the frustration birthed from a simple post getting spun off in the exact manner the OP wished to avoid. Being the accuracy/context nazi that I am, it’s difficult to say this, but while I’m new around here, I’ve also read enough to assume the OP wasn’t intended to imply that there are no boundaries, or some form of cultural or theological relativism, but rather to go against the grain of a performance mindset.

    But maybe that’s me, being a church brat, myself. I’ve neither shortage of opinion nor shortage of a Rottweiler’s drive to be right, but, ultimately, there is one body, one blood, one faith, one Spirit, one Name by which we are saved. There is one body. And, I’m only 26, but the older I get the more I come to understand the following:

    –I will never completely agree 100% with anyone on everything;
    –I can, and very likely will be, wrong.
    –There are many things that, at best, are speculative.
    –It is not for us to know the nuts and bolts of how everything in the universe works, including all the fathomless, breathless details of our own salvation.
    –Sometimes God will look you in the face and say “Trust me.” No explanation will be given.
    –Be very, very hesitant to question the salvation of a brother.

    • Nice, Kaci. You know what? You’re OK.

    • Great post, Kaci. You are so right. I didn’t start realizing this until I was 10 years older than you are, and I had to go through a lot of heartache to get there.

      Just a warning: fundies are NOT going to like you very much! LOL

    • Chaplain Mike – Thanks. 0=)

      Michelle – The only person to call me “liberal” was a Fundamentalist Baptist, and he was a friend/teacher. I like to call myself a “lenient conservative.” 0=)

  5. Hmm. I don’t think any Christian should have fuzzy doctrine. But we are indeed all at different stages in our journey with God and while there are things we should positively know, we’ll never know it all.

  6. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    Mike,

    Great post – I love it! My wife and I attend a COC now having left the SBC for a host of reasons and many are listed in this post because many of them were not OK with the churches we were at. You might say that a COC would not be OK will most of the above……. well ours is not a typical COC – not typical at all…… the one we attend is the whipping boy for the fundi COCs where all above is really not OK – the fundi COCs take great pleasure in taking us to task for every little thing that they see or say we’re not lining up with according to them – just go to any other in our area or our state and mention our congregation name and you’re immediately (in some cases) ignored the rest of the time you’re there.

    I think our COC is best described by part of this paragraph from your post:

    “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.”

    More of the same could be added to that paragraph as well – we’re not in the business of shutting people out but of bringing them in – living out life before them as just simply a christian….. living and showing Jesus by what we do outside the 4 walls of our church building more so than what happens inside it though that’s important too each week.

    Thanks again – great post!

  7. Just wanted to say that of all the pieces I’ve read here post-Michael Spencer, this is the first one I’ve really wanted to print out and SAVE. VERY thoughtful, well-written and articulated – thank you so much!

  8. While I appreciate the ecumenical spirit of this post, the content is just silly. “It’s ok to just be a Christian” is meaningless. Ideas & theologies mean something. Sometimes it means the difference between orthodoxy/heterodoxy and heresy. Can you imagine an OT Jew saying to God, “I know you love me and I really love you, Lord. I trust in you and ask you into my heart. I’m going to try and live for you but I’m really not alright with this whole circumcision thing. No thanks. Not for my son.” He and his family would be thrown outside the city gate and cut off from the people of God. So I’m sorry but this idea that nothing matters except the personal way I believe in Jesus and interact with him is heretical, gnostic nonsense. One can choose to believe this way but it cannot be called Christian.

    • Further adventures in missing the point…

      • I think that there needs to be some clarification. Right now I think that you’re statement is being taken as a reality that could be had in a vacuum. One where it is the only consideration, perhaps. It seems like some, including myself, don’t see how it could be just this, with no thought for things above and beyond it. It’s a very inward facing stance, one that does not interest itself much with the external i.e. others. That is not in a list and check sort of way, but in a sense, there is almost nothing that leads one to go outside their own front door. I hope that this makes sense. Peace.

        • Really? “Nothing that leads one to go outside their own front door?”

          How about these parts of the post?

          “It’s OK to be someone who only really cares about trying to love God and love your neighbor.”

          “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.”

          Don’t those parts count?

          • This will be the last word. This post is a humble attempt on my part to reflect the simple word of Scripture:

            He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

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