“Are you a Christian?” is a question I hear often because I label myself as an a-theist. That means I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god living in a mansion above a flat earth. My answer to whether I’m a Christian is more complex than a simple yes or no.
If someone asked, “Do you believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ or Messiah?”, I’d give a definite yes!
If she then asked whether I believe Jesus is the Son of God, I’d have to reply, “Who or what is God?”
If she responded, “He rules the world,” I’d answer, “No! I don’t believe that God is a human. Do you?” She’d probably say no.
I might then ask, “Then to whom do you pray?”
If she stated, “To God,” I’d say, “There are two to four trillion galaxies in the universe. Where does your God live?” The reply to that could be interesting.
Next, I’d ask, “Do you ask God to do things, like watch over, heal, and give strength to people?” I think I’d hear a yes. I’d then ask, “Do you believe God has a divine plan for everyone?” If I heard an affirmative, I’d add, “So you must believe in predestination?” If she said yes, I’d reply, “Then I’m not a Christian because I don’t want anything to do with a god who starts wars, has people killed, gives children birth defects, and locks people up because they’re poor.” However, I would add, “But I do believe in a cosmic force that I don’t call God (that word is loaded for me) but Higher Power or Ground of all Being or Creation (my favorite) instead. Would that count as God? Incidentally, I know next to nothing about this force, except that it is constantly creating—right before our eyes.”
Perhaps I’d inquire of my discussion partner, “Do you believe that God is love?” I’m positive she’d say yes. She’d probably be surprised when I told her, “I don’t, because that would be saying I know who or what God is, and I don’t.”
She’d probably say, “And you’re a minister in a Christian church?”
I never respond to that charge, but I would add, “But I do believe love is God.”
She might say, “Huh?”
I’d reply, “Love (or agape) is God suggests a quality I want in the God of my imagination.”
At this point, she’d probably tell me, “You’re not a Christian!”
Unfortunately, because I don’t believe in creeds or literal Nativity and Resurrection stories or Jesus defying natural law by actually walking on water, making a congenitally blind man see, turning water into wine, or reviving dead people, I am deemed not Christian—even though Jesus is my Christ.
If I’m not a Christian because I don’t believe in fairy tales and lies, so be it. Jesus is still my Christ.
Even though I read the Bible daily, spend an hour every morning praying and reading Christian materials, follow Jesus’s command in Matthew 25:40 to help the “least of these,” am involved in many ministries, go to a Christian church, and live by the great commandment to love God and my neighbor on a daily basis, many would still say I’m not a Christian.
Given the actions of so many who call themselves Christians despite supporting a morally corrupt administration that cancels most services to the “least of these,” maybe I don’t want to be called a Christian.
But I’d love to be called a devout Follower of Jesus.
What would you call me?
Image courtesy of Saint-Petersburg Theological Academy (CC BY-ND 2.0)