That’s Not Us

Dr. Nora appeared on the sitcom Frasier on April 29, 1999. Dr. Nora, played by Christine Baranski, was rude, vindictive, and judgmental. By the way, she was a Christian. In one scene she is giving on air advice to a caller on her radio show. A young lady was struggling with relationship issues. Dr. Nora perceived that she was living with her boyfriend and that this sinful relationship was the root of her problems. This lead to a hate filled attack against the young woman.

As is so often the case, Christians are portrayed as mean spirited, hate filled people, that love Jesus and no one else. That’s not us. Our culture, Hollywood driven, has created this narrative of Christians for decades. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Frasier is the funniest show ever on TV, but that does not negate the fact it was used to perpetuate this view of Christians.  

Think about every Christian portrayed on TV or movies. They are one of three things: First, we are portrayed as a Catholic with no real mention of faith. Second, we are shown as Dr. Nora was, hate-filled and spiteful. Third, we are shown as a self-righteous person that is secretly dealing with the sin we preach against. A Hypocrite if you will. This is the World’s perception of Christians.

Hollywood has determined that Christianity is the only group of people who are always portrayed through the most negative person on the fringe of our faith. This is something that is fought against in every other segment of society. We recognize and ask the question, are they really a follower of Christ if they act in that way?  It would be morally wrong to view all people of color according to the worst element within that race. It would be wrong to paint all Muslims as extremists because of the actions of some on 9/11. In the same way it is morally and ethically irresponsible to paint every Christian with such a broad brush.

Certainly, we can point to elements within our faith that help form false perceptions about us. TV evangelists from the 1980’s that abuse people and steal money. There are politicians that tout faith but live contrary to that faith. Then there is the man on the street corner holding a sign that declares, “God hates…”. Each of these are examples of persons acting outside of true faith. That’s not us.

Historically, Christians are the first to open hospitals, to care for orphans, to raise the standing of women, to fight against slavery and racism, to provide clean water and clothing to those in need. This is who we are. We can disagree without hating. We can live the moral life that we claim to live. We have acted on behalf of the outcast, those neglected by society. True Christians are the most generous people in the world because Jesus has called us to be generous. Believers should be willing to give their very lives in service to others.

Christians and the Church have allowed culture to determine how we are viewed. Why? Perhaps we are not as active in the public arena as we once were.  Maybe this is the solution. Christians need to stop hiding behind the four walls of a building and live life with those around us. That does not mean we change our beliefs because they are unpopular, but show our genuine love and compassion for people in spite of differences.

We do and should have standards. We may sometimes disagree, but we have a profound understanding of Christ and His forgiveness. True followers of Christ understand there is a moral standard set forth by Christ and the Bible. We may not always agree, but that does not remove the fact that I can love you and live my faith in the manner Jesus did. As Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “where are your accusers? … Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11) Yes, he confronted her sin, but He did so in love and compassion. Yes, he called her to a higher standard, but He did so from a place of grace and mercy. So, the next time you see a Christian portrayed on TV or even with a bullhorn on the street, ask yourself, is this how Jesus would approach people? No, That’s not us.

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