A couple of weeks ago, I met my regular golf partner at one of the local courses. We expected to play our usual quick round of golf; and we would have – except that day they paired us with two other golfers, thus slowing us down. In reality, they turned out to be better golfers than us, so I’m not sure who did the slowing.
As usually happens, we asked each other what we did for a living. Most readers of this blog know that my answer is always complicated. I am a pastor, but I’m also a writer, a counselor and a public speaker. In addition, I do employee assessments for small businesses and even interpersonal training for people in helping professions. Normally, I just tell people “counselor” and they get back to golf.
For some reason, I told the two guys I was a pastor. I don’t know what made me say that. I almost never do. It makes people nervous as they mentally review whether or not they have been using profanity during the round of golf.
A few holes later, one of the guys started making small talk as we waited for our turn to hit. With one simple question, our conversation got weird and since that time, it has bothered me
Here’s how he started: “So you must be happy today huh?”
“Your side won this morning.”
“Sure, you know…the religious side…in the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about” I told him. And I really didn’t know what was happening. I had not read the news much the week previous because my counseling load was so heavy and I had a lot of evening appointments. I had never even heard of Hobby Lobby. I told him that and he looked amazed.
“I thought every Christian in the country was praying for the outcome of this case” he said.
“Apparently you’re wrong” I retorted. “Not only do I know nothing about this case, even if I did, I would have to spend a lot of hours looking into it before I could form an opinion on it.” I thought this statement would correct his false conclusion.
You see, he had come to believe that all Christians stand together on political issues. Perhaps he also believed we are all guilty if one of us is guilty. Maybe he believed that we all secretly hold to the same viewpoints on all cultural memes, regularly attending meetings where we decide as a group how to vote, where to protest, whom to exclude and how to let our displeasure known to the masses. If there are such meetings, I have never been invited, and I’m sure I wouldn’t attend.
Here was my final word to him: “I do not represent Christians, I represent Christ. I know what Jesus stands for, what he teaches, how he loves me. As for Christians, we are a mixed bag and must be treated individually.”
This blew him away, and he kept returning to the subject for the rest of the golf game.
I want all readers of this blog to know that I don’t represent you and you don’t represent me. Neither does Focus on the Family, the Billy Graham Association, the National Association of Evangelicals, Christianity Today Magazine or the National Day of Prayer.
I don’t represent your political views and you don’t represent mine. It never impresses me when the President, a Governor, Senator or Congressman announces they are a Christian. I have no idea if that statement is supposed to convince me I’m on their side or they’re on mine, but we’re not.
I don’t represent your moral values and you don’t represent mine. When a priest molests a child, don’t hold that to my account. When a stupid church decides to picket gay funerals, don’t look at me. I am dreadfully sorry for what they’re doing. When someone bombs an abortion clinic, I am not cheering. When a pastor in town has multiple affairs and is publicly humiliated, I am not pleased in any way at his failure; but I should not be tarred with his brush. When a Christian 15 years ago treated you badly and dragged your name through the mud, don’t think that gives you a right to drag mine through the mud today.
I support no Christian agendas.
I support no Christian parties or politicians
I don’t think watching a Christian movie or listening to Christian music proves whether I’m a follower of Christ.
I represent Christ and that is it. If you look at my life and I do not live according to the principles that I profess, then criticize and challenge me. If another Christian does not live up to what they profess to believe, talk to them.
What it comes down to is this. Christians have only one thing that makes us similar to each other. If we are following Christ, our goal is to eventually look like him. In that process, we don’t have to look like each other. We don’t have to sound like each other. We don’t have to vote like each other.
That’s all I have to say about that.