Each year the students of Chris Blake’s sophomore-level editing class at Union College produce the February issue of OUTLOOK. Since our overall theme for 2014 is discipleship, we asked the students to share, through their own experiences, what discipleship means to them.
The following articles were written by Jack Sauder (“How Not to be a Christian”), a junior general studies major living in Lincoln, Nebraska and Anna Pongo (“Christian Service”), a senior communication major now claiming Nebraska as home.
To view the print version (designed by Jeannie Hinrichs, a journalism and public relations major from Orlando, Florida) see pages 16 of the February 2014 issue, available at outlookmag.org/print-issues.
How Not To Be A Christian
“Gays are not going to heaven!”
“What? Are you crazy?” I was horrified by what my friend Herbert* had said. What other judgmental ideas does he hold?
Herbert firmly believes that to be a Christian, he must shove his beliefs in people’s faces. He constantly goes out in public with the sole purpose of finding people who are doing “wrong” and telling them they are sinful and must repent from their evil ways.
Herbert also points out how his friends’ beliefs differ from the Bible’s teachings. On top of that, he oftentimes goes out of his way to debate with others about biblical topics, “to heighten my spiritual experience” as he puts it—regardless of how much the other person doesn’t want to debate. Herbert believes that the Bible was written as a book of law, to tell people exactly how wrong they are in their lives.
If that’s true, then I submit that the Bible is absolutely meaningless. That’s right: The Bible is worthless, and there is no reason to read it.
Jesus came to Earth 2,000 years ago, died, and was resurrected. If Jesus had never come to Earth, then it would not matter how much you love God. It would not matter if you kept every law God created. It would not matter if you were the most perfect person to ever live, because there would be absolutely no way to get into heaven.
The Bible is not a book to throw at people when they are doing something wrong; remember, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37, NIV). The Bible is a story, the greatest story ever told: the story of humanity’s fall, and Jesus’ sacrifice to offer a way into heaven.
Christians are not called by God to tell the world what they are doing wrong. They are called by God to share the gospel and make disciples. Last time I checked, hitting people upside the head with a heavy book is not the best way to win friends. If we want to point out other people’s sins when we ourselves are crazy, judgmental, and sinful, we can go right ahead.
But if we put aside our Bible-thumping long enough to share the gospel (which, after all, means “Good News”) in a non-aggressive, caring manner, perhaps more people would be willing to listen.
Suggestions for How Not To Be A Christian
- Make sure to debate the Bible with someone whenever you get the chance.
- Edit Wikipedia pages that disagree with your personal views about Christianity.
- Go out of your way to locate and correct evildoers.
- Pronounce that all people outside your faith are lost.
“Oooh ahhh oooh ahhh . . .” The sounds faded into my subconsciousness as the fog of sleep settled over me. At last, I could rest.
My parents and I were living in India. They were preaching and teaching while I, as a 13-year- old, was enjoying Marco Polo and jacks with the orphan kids.
This day started like the others before it. At five o’clock in the morning I woke to the sounds of our neighbor whipping her saris against the concrete. After getting dressed, and eating mangoes fresh from the vendor, I walked up the street to the orphanage.
The day started out hot, and only got hotter. Those who ran the electrical company in the village where we lived thought it was a good idea to turn off the power during the hottest part of the day.
We never had air conditioning but at that time of day we had no fans either. It was blistering.
As I passed the day playing Duck, Duck, Goose with my friends at the orphanage, a raging headache developed, most likely caused by heat exhaustion. As it got worse I couldn’t think straight. Dots crossed my vision, like static on an old television set. A couple of my friends, noticing I wasn’t being my normal, energetic self, came to my rescue.
“Lie down on your stomach.” Through the fog of pain I complied. As I lay there my friends Ruth and Elizabeth thumped on my back and repeated the “Oooh ahhh oooh ahhhs.”
“This is something mommas here do to help their babies sleep,” Ruth explained.
This is weird. Why would this put people to sleep? I doubt it will help. I don’t think . . .
The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and the relative cool of evening had settled. Ruth and Elizabeth were leaning against the wall beside me, talking in Telugu, their native language. Warmth seeped through my heart as I looked at them.
Through this simple kindness, these girls, whom I was supposed to be in India to help, helped me instead. Sometimes the simplest act of kindness can mean the most to another person. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb. 13:16).
Simple Service Suggestions
- Put a surprise note or sketch in with your spouse’s or kid’s lunch.
- In summer when it’s hot, hand out cold water or juice to your mail carrier, the garbage man or random passersby.
- Say “thank you” to someone who made a difference.
- Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
- Donate your stuff. Instead of saving things in case you need them in 10 years, consider giving stuff to someone who needs it now.
- Stop by a kid’s lemonade stand and buy a drink.
- Spend a few minutes on FreeRice.com, a United Nations Food Program that will donate rice to hungry people when you interact with the website.
- Don’t ignore the next homeless person you see. Buy them food and enjoy their smile when you give it to them.