Hmmm…something going through my head lately. Something I read in Velvet Elvis (which I finished by the way–no further heresies to report). But in the book, Rob Bell remarked on something that I found interesting, and am still chewing on and grappling with….
The word “Christian” was not intended to be used as an adjective.
In Scripture, it is always a noun, referring to a person who follows Christ.
Now, forgive me if this offends your religious sensibilities–just being honest here–I have grown less and less comfortable using the word “Christian” to describe myself, although by Biblical standards I certainly am one. I love Jesus and attempt to follow Him with my life, and I’m not ashamed of Him. But the word “Christian” in our culture has become so loaded that people attach to it any of a number of stereotypes and misconceptions every time it is used. It isn’t that I am trying to avoid hostility by non-Christians; it’s just that I want them to be hostile toward me for the right reasons. (?) So when possible, I try to gravitate toward terms like “Christ-follower” or “disciple of Jesus”.
Anyhow…I think that this idea of using the word “Christian” as an adjective rather than a noun has served to complicate things even more. We use “Christian” to describe a type of music, or a type of book, or (forgive me again) even a type of nation. But in the Jewish mindset (out of which most of the Scriptures were written), there is no differentiation between sacred and secular (or in our vernacular, Christian or non-Christian) when referring to these things. In the Jewish mindset, everything is sacred if God is in the center of your life. As such, everything is redeemable under Him. But we so categorize things using “Christian” as an adjective that we Christians start getting paranoid about what’s okay for us, and what’s not okay.
Here’s an example: someone says, “I only listen to Christian music.” I get that we aren’t to just fill our minds with garbage, but show me chapter and verse to show where we are supposed to use the Christian tag to identify something like music. What makes it Christian? Is it that a Christian is singing it? Or that the message has to be specifically talking about Christ? Does that mean typical romantic love songs are not Christian? What if a Christian wrote the love song? Are Christians not allowed to be romantic?
Can you see how this way of thinking imprisons us–let alone alienates us from unbelievers? Do you see how we’ve made “non-Christian” a code for “unclean?”