On Loving My Christian Neighbors

You know what really bugs me?

(This is where my husband would offer, “LOTS of things?” and I would roll my eyes and clarify, “Okay, you know what is really bugging me today?”)

Today, it is really bugging me that so many people choose to pour their time and energy into passing judgment on others’ lifestyles and – this is the part that bugs me – cloaking it as concern for their poor Christian souls.

I love God.  Let me start there.  With all my “heart, soul, and mind”.  That’s Matthew 22:38, for those of you who like these things accompanied by scriptures.  You know what comes right after it?  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And that’s where I, and I’d imagine lots of other Christians, often stumble. Sometimes it’s just damn hard work to love your neighbor.   I mean, it’s easy to love nice people.  And people of other faiths?  Muslim neighbors and atheist neighbors and Jewish neighbors?  No problem there either. People of different sexual orientations?  Gay neighbors and straight neighbors and bisexual neighbors?  Done.

But good grief.  Loving my fellow Christian can be difficult.

I’m not your “typical” Christian, if there is such a thing.   I don’t fit neatly into a box, and I get that.  And non-box-fitting Christians often make other Christians … nervous.  I get that too. Here’s what I don’t get.  Why on earth would the way I choose to live out my faith bother you? To the point that you feel such an irrepressible urge to actually WARN me:

You should be careful with yoga.  You’re opening yourself up to the occult.

Tattoos (or piercings, or any other form of personal expression that you find distasteful)  are defiling God’s temple.

Any so-called Christian who lets their children play first-person shooter games is not a true Christian.  Period.

As a Christian, I can’t believe you’d ignore the biblical instruction for corporal punishment.

Celebrating Halloween is honoring evil.

And overheard just this morning, again in reference to Halloween:

“Sugar-sprinkled poison is still poison.”

I could certainly go on, but those are the ones I hear most frequently, and with the most fervor. What it boils down to is a good, old-fashioned, “Shame on you, you bad bad Christian!  You’re getting it all WRONG, and it’s my job to tell you.”  It’s exhausting and irritating.  And, like I said, not too helpful in my genuine quest to love all the Christians.

The thing you need to know is that my faith is strong.  My mind can be changed about many many things, but not that. I am confident in my relationship with God, and I am confident that He loves me exactly as He created me. So while your genuine concern for my soul is touching – if it is in fact genuine – your efforts to change me in some way are really only serving to annoy me (and also to add fuel to the “Christians are just judgmental a@@holes” fire.  So well played)

If your choices are not harmful to others, I will support your right to have them like crazy.  Don’t want to celebrate Halloween? Cool with me.  Don’t want to do yoga? Super.  Don’t like certain video games?  By all means, don’t buy them.  Rather die than get a tattoo or a piercing?  Your choice to make.

All I ask is that you extend me the same courtesy.

I’ll respect the message sent by your dark porch on Halloween.   I won’t show up at your door with my zombie child, I promise.  I won’t force you to do yoga.  I won’t even make you look at my tattoos.  I’ll just… love you.  From afar, if that’s what you prefer.

Because here’s what I’m thinking.  If, as Christians, our job is to get out into the world and spread God’s love, and we can’t even act in a loving way towards each other?  Something’s not right.  Pointing fingers and splitting hairs and damning people to hell over everything they’re getting “wrong” does no good for anyone.  And let’s be honest, none of us are getting it 100% right anyway.  We’re human.  Gloriously flawed, imperfect, constantly growing and learning and involving humans.

And MY flaws and imperfections (and/or those things you perceive as my flaws and imperfections)?  They won’t hurt you.  Really.  You’re okay.  I’m okay.  My choices are between me and God.  He’s got this.  He’s always got this.

No outside help required.



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Filed under about me, acceptance, faith, God, rant

4 Responses to On Loving My Christian Neighbors

  1. amy

    I love this. So true. I kind of wrote about this today too.

  2. Mette

    I think we have a tendency to see the areas where we ourselves don’t struggle (or have ovecome some struggle) as areas everyone else should also be able to “master” (if I can do it, so can you). And we forget that firstly, perhaps the area, whatever it is, isn’t as sinful as we think it is and perhaps that other person doesn’t need to overcome it as we have AND, like you say we all struggle with *something.*

    That said, I do think it’s useful to discuss among Christians whether any certain practice or thing is really compatible with a serious Christian walk. As in, does this help me grow in Christlikeness and is it helpful in terms of my Christian testimony to others (ie. do I point people towards God with this or not?).

    It shouldn’t be done with a holier-than-thou attitude and arrogance, but with genuine concern and inquisity (for oneself as well). Iron sharpening iron, you know 🙂

    Blessings from DK

  3. Lorena

    Perfectly expressed! I couldn’t have said it any better. Just this morning as I was doing my morning devotions in my favorite spot in my house- which happens to have a view to my “oh so righteous Christian neighbor’s” house I pondered, for the millionth time “How is it they can claim so zealously to be Christian “brothers and sisters” when they have worked so hard to “protect their family” from our not so “righteous” Christian family. We went to the same church for over ten years, even attended the same home fellowship for a while, we have tried and tried so many ways and so many times to be loving neighbors and genuine brothers and sisters in Christ but unfortunately, being next door neighbors this long has made us a little too transparent for their taste.

    Is it the Ragae music we play from our back yard some times (not blasted but just high enough that when they lean their ear against the fence they can hear it), is it the fact that I, a grown Christian woman, wear a bikini in my own swimming pool, in my own back yard? I’m so sorry they have to be “stumbled” when they look out their upstairs windows and stair at us while we sunbathe, swim or just have fun like normal people in our own property…. Anyway, I could go on for pages… Just wanted to say Thank you for being genuine, real, God-loving Christians who choose to love and accept others as they are: tattoos, Reagae music, bikinis and all! Much love to you and prayers that our neighbors/brothers and sisters in Christ can some day be humbled and truly know the definition of Love!