Can You Be a ______ and Still Be a Christian?
We Must Be Careful Not to Judge Others Based on Who We Are or What We Do
Over the years I’ve heard many people wonder out loud about the validity of another Christian’s faith based on what they do or some aspect of their life. Often this takes the form of, “Can you be a ______ and still be a Christian?” What goes in the blank is both varied and wide-ranging.
Can You Be a Christian?
Lately, here in the United States, I’ve heard political party affiliations inserted into the blank, namely Republican or Democrat. Other times it’s economic philosophies, such as socialist, communist, or someone advocating democracy.
For those with a legalistic perspective, various personal activities and lifestyle choices are apt to find themselves inserted into this question. And in other instances, assorted occupations end up in this blank.
And I’ve even heard specific theological perspectives used with this question. Such as, “Can you embrace predestination and still be a Christian?” Of course, the alternate query is, “Can you embrace free will and still be a Christian?” Come on. Give me a break. Yet I’ve heard these types of questions asked, along with many more, some of which are even more ridiculous.
Wrongly Judging Others
In each instance there is a similar underlying concern. The person asking the question finds living a Christian life—that is, being a follower of Jesus—incompatible with a specific philosophy, lifestyle, action, or vocation—which others espouse, and they avoid.
From their perspective, from their worldview, they see a disconnect they can’t reconcile. Yet they are judging others with wrong motives. James warns against this (James 4:11-12).
Therefore we should not concern ourselves with others, but focus on our own behaviors, placing our trust in God. Only he should judge us. Only he can save us.
Jesus Wants Us to Follow Him
Jesus calls everyone to follow him. He doesn’t care about our politics, philosophy, or occupation. He gives us love and offers acceptance. He embraces those who have a sincere interest in pursuing a relationship with him. Even those who remain undecided receive a gentle answer.
A Personal Decision
Yes, there are certain types of work I would not do and certain lifestyle choices I avoid, but these are personal decisions based on how I determine to best pursue my faith in God and what it means to me to be a follower of Jesus. It would be wrong for me to apply my ideals to other people who may make other decisions about how to best pursue their faith.We will all fall short and miss the mark. But Jesus offers us mercy and grace when we do. Click To Tweet
The key point is that we have Jesus in common. The essential consideration is that we’re doing our best to follow him on our journey of life. Along the way, we will all fall short and miss the mark. But Jesus offers us mercy and grace when we do. Through Jesus we will spend our afterlife with him—regardless of some of the secondary decisions we may have made along the way as we navigated our journey.
Thank you, Jesus!
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.