20 May 2013

Myths about Christians

On Saturday I had a really bad day. I found out that I had had my cards stolen out of my pocket on the bus...

...this was annoying for a number of reasons:

  • My purse was stolen in March and so I had just replaced all the lost cards
  • Because I hadn't got around to replacing my purse I was storing everything of value in my Oyster card case (for those that don't know what an oyster card is, it's a plastic card that you put money onto to allow you to use public transport in London)
  • That was the 5th debit card I have lost had since the New Year (one expired, one dropped in a drain, one got stolen, one a card machine ate in Aberystwyth and now this one has been stolen)
  • I had only had the most recent debit card for 8 days
  • It costs to replace a drivers license and young persons railcard
  • It means you can't get money out over the weekend as banks are shut 

Anyway, it's made me not want to blog over the last few days because to be honest I was just really frustrated and angry...and I didn't feel like I had anything particularly positive to say. 

However, I was thinking that if you didn't know me and you were reading this blog, you might be tempted to think that I am always positive. But if I'm honest on days like Saturday I was the grumpiest person around. I was swearing at God about why he was letting this happen to me, I was stomping around getting annoyed at how life was going to be a lot more difficult in the short term. 

And reflecting over all of that I realised that even as a Christian I believe a few myths about what Christians should be like. I wanted to take a few moments to identify and "out" these myths. 

#1. Christians never get angry/annoyed/upset - generally I think I am a pretty laid-back type of person. And I guess I am very conscious that I should trust God for things. I want to look like I am trusting God for all that I need - I never want to look out of control because it might look like I'm not trusting God. Fact is, I'm terrible at letting go and fully trusting that God has my best interests at heart. I am massively independent and struggle to relinquish control, even though in my head I know it's the best solution. I realised this on Saturday when I was frantically trying to work out back up plans...he had it in hand.

#2. Christians are horribly nice all of the time - NOT TRUE. On Saturday I don't think I was particularly nice to anyone. In fact I was potentially horrible to a number of people. I think there is this stereotype that Christians can be sickly sweet (a bit like Ned Flanders off the Simpsons) and just never say or do anything nasty. That is not true...well not for me anyway. 

#3. Christians are better than all other people - I was really struck by this myth on Sunday as we were talking about it in the Youth session I was running. A lot of the time I am tempted to feel smug about the fact that I have a relationship with God and how silly everyone else is for totally missing the point. The fact is, God doesn't love me any more than he loves all those that haven't chosen him. I have absolutely NO right to think I am more important, because I'm not. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23 - I am included in that "all" part. I am blown away at how gracious God is - he chooses to love those that have chosen him, and continues to love them despite all the time they do his name no favours; and he also loves those that will never choose him.

#4. Christians have life sorted - What a joke. I think I used to believe that when I was a grown up I'd have a better idea of what it was that God wanted me to do and I would trust in him to provide all that I needed to live life for his glory. I officially am a grown up now and have been for a number of years...I seriously don't have it sorted. I am where I am and I trust that God is using me and that he will show me what to do next. But even in that there are so many questions that sometimes I go in circles not really getting anywhere trying to work out what I should be doing with my life. 

#5. Christians love having new people enter into the faith - Don't get me wrong I think nearly all of us do actually love people choosing Christ. But we don't like change. In fact Christians are actually terrible at change. There have been denominations created because of changes in Church history. When we get lots of new people becoming Christians there is a shift and it means life needs to change. We need to be that little bit more caring, observant, patient with new people, we need to make time to get to know new faces, names, families. We need to adjust to different service schedules or serving rotas. Christians struggle with change.

Now why have I thrown those myths out there?? Well I guess 2 reasons:
  1. I want you to know I am totally human. I am flawed and weak and I get things wrong all the time
  2. I don't want to live in a way that allows these myths to either be believed by myself, or to be displayed through my actions. I want to be real. I want to show when I'm angry and not just feel like "oh no, I'm a Christian, what kind of witness will it be if I'm annoyed". Clearly I do think that being wise about my own actions and words is very important; but I want to have integrity that that is the real me, and not just a Christian mask I have put on to be something I think I "should" be.
Anymore myths out there that I've missed?


  1. This is a good post for a number of reasons:

    Unless you walk round with an 'I'm a Christian' T-shirt on, how would anybody know you were? Thus why would anyone expect you to be No. 1, 2, 3 or 4?

    Your faith is part of who you are and you may find guidance in that, but first and foremost you are a person, with independent thoughts, dreams and ambitions, all of which your God has blessed you with.

    Calling yourself a Christian is as just as much a label as Goth, hipster, geek, gay etc.

    Although labels allow you to feel safe and part of a community, there is also a tendency to 'live up' to the stereotypes of a label, and when people let one aspect of their life define every other part of their person, rather than having a balance you end up with No.3 and 5 happening.

    I hope you get your cards sorted sharpish, although inconvenient it has given you this opportunity to reflect.

  2. Thanks Bec - really appreciate your feedback. The bank rang me today to ask me to go into a branch with i.d. to check I am really me and I do really need another new card! It's all good now.

    Yea I think sometimes I need to be forced to reflect - it's not something that necessarily comes naturally.