Let's clear the air about something right off the bat...
A "Christian" is a noun (according to Websters), but the term "followers of Jesus" is an adjectival/descriptive phrase.
The term Christian, as it is used in 2009, means anyone who goes to church. Right there we have a problem, don't we? Followers of Jesus don't go to a building called a church, they are the Church (an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting) and each individual is a member of the body of Christ.
Christians, those who occupy space in a building that resembles Pagan temples devoted to Jesus more than an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting, are not reflective of who and what God has called us out to be.
Symmorphos Christos (Greek), being conformed to the image of Christ, is what we are called out to be. But does that mean really?
Is Jesus simply the cookie cutter we are to emulate?
Or is that call reflective of the evolution of the Church as those who follow Jesus are to contribute to the body of Christ as they are gifted by the Holy Spirit?
Each local area (e.g. the community you live in) has many different flavors if you will, of followers of Jesus the Messiah. That group of people is very diverse, and God is working and through the lives of each and every person therein. The Church is nothing more than a name we give that place that followers of Jesus gather, and as we are again gifted by God, we assume a particular function in that local body. Some become church furniture, others work in the kitchen feeding the Body; and everywhere in between.
Is that what Christians who go to church (the building) do when they sing songs, listen to sermons and do a little networking in the lobby to make sure covers that tithe you just plopped in the offering plate? Emulate church furniture perhaps. But it certainly misses the mark any way you look at it. We aren't doing God any favors by gracing a dressed up Pagan temple with our presence on Sunday morning. The gathering of called out ones to worship is not a place, it is what we do... gather and worship. Or gather, feed and then mingle.
I understand why many folks take issues with Christians. I also understand why many take issue with followers of Jesus the Christ.
In regards to the former, many see hypocrisy and are unimpressed with powerless lives that rely and depend on an institution that overwhelms the culture we live in. Got it.
In regards to the latter, it is partly because we all fail and miss the mark (the very definition of sin, therefore we are all sinners - saved or not), and partly because they are hostile to good news of Jesus Christ.
The good news of Jesus Christ requires action on the part of the hearer. Either that person accepts it, or they reject it. Many things and many variations follow either of the results of said decision.
Followers of Jesus who accept the gospel more often than not do so with varying degrees of commitment. God requires our all, but very few are willing to actually give that much of themselves. Whether that person is saved of not is between that person and God, but speaking for myself... Despite being baptized by water and Spirit decades ago, I may have been saved, but I was an ineffective and powerless believer who may or may not have escaped the penalty of sin (my sin). It was when I repented and turned the direction I was going in (turned from following me to following Jesus) that I truly began to live.
Those who have rejected the gospel are also in varying degrees of rebellion towards God. Some rebel and simply go on through life ignoring the good news so freely given to all who will accept God's gift, for varying reasons. Some becomes soldiers for the adversary and spend their entire lives locked in combat with God in an attempt to destroy, or try to at least, the good news they refused to accept. Usually the reason is that they love sin, whether they know or accept it or not.
A third group not yet mentioned are agnostic. They simply don't have enough facts and are therefore fence sitters.
If you want a good picture of what eternity will be like for all of the above categories of people, I highly suggest that you study the Temple. It is a reflection of the spaces and relationship of those who draw near to the Living God. At one extreme of this picture there is a lack of proximity towards God's presence oftentimes referred to as the outer darkness, and at the other is the Holy of Holies where God physically resides.
So all this talk about the foibles and failures of Christians means what?
Nothing when you take in the reality of the matter, wouldn't you agree?
Does your "reality" matter?
What is "your" reality anyhow? Are you the Creator of the Universe? Have you created anything other than a few pitiful perceptions of the human beings within earshot of your otherwise meaningless life? Do you have the power to change God? Do you override His reality because you can't or wont accept His?
In the spirit of fairness I want to add that the word Christian is found twice in the Bible. The term is defined by it's 1st century usage as "a follower of Christ" (see: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5546&t=KJV). The current usage of the term is an adaptation to reflect current cultural perceptions and norms. So yes, the term occurs. But no, it doesn't mean the same thing as most folks would argue otherwise.
© 2009 Pete Lounsbury: Wise White Political Polemicist - 9/29/09