I want to discuss today something that has been building in my mind for years, bothering me and gnawing at my sanity. And I want to frame this issue as an open letter to anyone who calls themselves a Christian.
Stop calling people “lost.” I seem to hear this every time I walk into a church or sit in a classroom. There is this demeaning notion which has been adopted and engrained in Christian culture that those who do not see things as the Christians see them are lost. It most likely traces its roots to Luke 15. It doesn’t matter if it’s in reference to a Muslim, a Jew, an Agnostic, or an Atheist, if someone does’t share the same beliefs and/or worldview as the Christian then he is “lost.” By the Christian standard of “lost” even members of different Christian denominations are tagged as “lost.” And as my worldview is unique or obscure, then I am also “lost.”
You condescending motherfuckers.
Dictionary.com defines “lost,” as it applies in this context, as “having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place, direction, etc.”
Gone astray? Missed the way? These terms don’t sound like terms that should be used to describe people of different faith groups. When compared to the teachings of Jesus, it would, instead, appear to me that Christianity, as it has been coopted by corruption, capitalism, greed, and everything else the Bible warns against, is what qualifies as lost. Christianity is suffering from an identity crisis. The Church, as a body, has no idea what its role in a postmodern society should look like. Christians place their faith in the same category as hobbies, and the only time they take their faith seriously is when someone challenges their fragile ideas about social normalcy.
People are free to believe what they believe, and they can find security in their beliefs. It won’t be long before Islam, Atheism and non-traditional religious beliefs surpass Christianity in numbers of subscribers. But in my experience, people who already subscribe to traditions apart from Christianity seem to enjoy their religion more, take it more seriously, and are more open-minded to discuss real issues, even if those issues challenges the principles of their religion. These people are not lost. They know who they are and they find a sense of purpose in the religions they participate in. Christians, on the other hand, have lost their sense of purpose. Christian belief is based largely on fear of the unknown while other traditions embrace the unknown. Christians could stand to take a few pointers from other faith groups.
While I consider myself a Christian, it is embarrassing to see what is done in the social and political arenas in the name of Christianity. Jesus taught love, but often we are seen as a hateful bunch, and for good reason. Christians suffer from a superiority complex where everyone who is different (religiously, socially, politically) is deemed unworthy. Rather than act demeaning or condescending to those who express alternative worldviews and religious beliefs, why not embrace them and show them the same kind of love Jesus would have shown them?
And for fuck’s sake, stop referring to people as “lost.”
Author: Adam Hinds is a Masters of Divinity student at Lipscomb University and an Operations Specialist in the United States Navy. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in International Relations from Middle Tennessee State University. He is an outspoken libertarian, an advocate of interfaith dialogue and religious freedom, and has traveled to 23 countries including Israel, Costa Rica, and Japan. He has many projects which are listed on his website at: adamhinds.net
Follow Adam on Twitter @ahinds3d