The Christianity painted in the media, either fictionally or non-fictionally, is usually caricature, extremist Christianity.
In films or TV shows, the preacher is usually either: A) A crazy fundamentalist radical; B) A crazy “I sin worse or the same as everyone else” liberal; or C) Perfect
In the media, the “Christians” (and I put quotes because most of these are at best quasi-Christians) that get attention are either: A) The crazy fundamentalist radicals (see all news articles related to the Pastor who was going to burn the Koran or anything to do with people who hate those “Fags” or “Baby-Killers” or hate on “movements” of genuine Christianity. Watch first minute here B) The crazy “I’m just human” liberals who cut out 3/4 of the Bible, only use the “love” passages, and now pray to a “Higher Light” rather than God; and C) The holier than thou perfect pastors who can do no wrong.
Point: Christianity only gets attention when it’s extreme.
But what most fundamentalists or liberal “Christians” don’t get is that following Jesus and doing what he says is radical enough. You don’t need to be crazy or weird to get attention or to live out your calling as a Christ-follower.
Furthermore, I can’t help but shake the idea that the essence of Christianity is about balancing tensions and paradoxes.
Grace and Truth
Love and Challenge
God and The World
Here is the difference:
* Fundamentalists put everything they can into the “box” of “Truth.” They go to war over any and everything they believe as “Truth.”
* Liberals put nothing into the “box.” What is your truth is your truth and I shouldn’t argue.
And yet, it seems to me when I read the Bible and look at what Jesus fought for and argued over, were certain core truths and then the rest he either ignored or just held in tension.
Do you baptize infants or adults? Silence.
Do you pay to Caesar or pay to God? Both
Do you show mercy to sinners or do you call them to truth? Both
Do you love “sinners” or challenge them to change? Both
It’s difficult to navigate the tensions of Christianity. I don’t know about you, but so often I want hard-core truth that is not debatable! And yet, how much damage have we done to seekers who don’t know Jesus yet when we present the extremist views of “Christians” who either lash out in anger or go laissez-faire in their beliefs?
I’m definitely not saying I have found the ONLY, EXACT WAY to be a Christian. But I can definitely tell you the way of tension-holding, paradox-embracing, moderate-speaking Christianity is much better than either extreme side of the fence. Following Jesus — living out a mustard seed way of life, loving your enemies, giving generously — is “radical and extreme” enough. You don’t need to be weird or crazy to claim to follow Jesus.