by: A.J. Abshire
I’ve been a “Christian” for a long time now. I’ve been dubbed that title by people because of the things that I claim to believe. Often, we come across people who claim a lot of things.
Do we claim it or live it?:
Back in my early college years there were a lot of actions I took that I’m not proud to admit. I’ve made decisions immaturely about what to do with my time, my efforts, and my heart. I’ve been in a place where walls were built to hide the deep insecurities and shame I kept inside. If sin was a sea, I’m be diving right in. At this particular time, I claimed to be “Christian” without actually know at all what that meant.
It was until midway through college that I encountered genuine people, who carried the gospel of Christ in their every word, that I knew what a Christian was. These people accepted me into their community, they helped in answering my unbelievable questions, they became vulnerable with me — sharing their deepest and shameful moments that made them feel unworthy. They expressed their passions and showed me God’s creative and genuine character. They loved me for who I was, selflessly pouring into my life like a brother. No doubt I will forever consider them brothers.
I’ve accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the redeemer of my sinful heart. He’s taken the shame I’ve carried and he posted it on a cross so that I may be forgiven. I didn’t deserve it, I didn’t earn it. This is the why I call myself “Christian.”
Why am I still talking?:
The point of this rant, if you’ve cared enough to read this far, is that if at any point they would have been exclusive with their community, I would have never seen what the gospel is really about through their character.
While a lot of “Christians” can agree that clicks CAN be a good thing (developing close community with few people — creating vulnerability and accountability), I have to stand firm with my sincere observation that exclusivity defies the very essence of Grace; it negates the very point of the Gospel.
Grace, as presented in my Bible, is:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
In this example, Paul writes to these people that there is nothing we can do to earn respect, worthy, or success. In this passage he explains that Grace is absolutely inclusive for anyone that would want it. Could you imagine if it were exclusive to elite individuals? — the emptiness we’d feel.
What should we do about it?:
In the same way, we should always strive to see community as an example of God’s Grace on our lives, including those that feel forsaken or lonely, those that feel as if they don’t belong.. Showing them that they are valued just as much as we are. There’s no amount of followers that makes me better than someone, there’s no song I could write to make me more worthy, and there’s no faith I can have that makes me more loved by Jesus.
My final thoughts:
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I will not stand for anything that makes people feel like they aren’t welcome or lower than me. I will choose to show people that they are valued.
If you aren’t a Christian, at least now you know what it is that I stand for — if you call yourself a Christian, I’d like to challenge you to consider the way you’ve been treating people, examining whether you’ve been expressing God’s grace the way it was given to you.
If I’ve ever done anything to make people feel like they aren’t worthy of my presence or time, I’d like to apologize. By Grace, I would like to only be a blessing to your lives and make you feel like Christ has made me feel.