The Kind of Christian I Refuse to Be


I am a Christian.

Actually, it’s more accurate lately to say that I am still a Christian.

I now say this with much trepidation. I say it with great fatigue. I say it somewhat begrudgingly. I say it with more than a good deal of embarrassment—not of Jesus, but of so many of his people and so much of the Church professing to speak for him.

Looking around at too much of what represents my faith tradition, it’s become a daily battle to make this once effortless declaration, knowing that it now automatically aligns me with those who share so little in common with the Jesus I met when I first claimed the name Christian.

I know the kind of people making this declaration now aligns me with in people’s minds. It now aligns me with bathroom bullies, politicized pulpits, white privilege, and overt racism; with bigotry toward so many groups of people who represent the “world” I grew up believing that God so loved.

There are things that used to be a given as a follower of Jesus, that no longer are.

For far too many people, being a Christian no longer means you need to be humble or forgiving. It no longer means you need a heart to serve or bring healing. It no longer requires compassion or mercy or benevolence. It no longer requires you to turn the other cheek or to love your enemies or to take the lowest place or to love your neighbor as yourself.

It no longer requires Jesus.

And so the choices are to abandon the idea of claiming Christ altogether to avoid being deemed hateful by association in the eyes of so much of the watching world—or to reclaim the name Christian so that it once again replicates the love of Jesus in the world.

I am trying to do the latter.

Yes, I am a Christian, but there is a Christian I refuse to be.

I refuse to be a Christian who lives in fear of people who look or speak or worship differently than I do.

I refuse to be a Christian who believes that God blesses America more than God so loves the world.

I refuse to be a Christian who can’t find the beauty and truth in religious traditions other than my own.

I refuse to be a Christian who uses the Bible to perpetuate individual or systemic bigotry, racism, or sexism.

I refuse to be a Christian who treasures allegiance to a flag or a country or a political party, above emulating Jesus.

I refuse to be a Christian who is reluctant to call-out the words of hateful preachers, venomous politicians, and mean-spirited pew sitters, in the name of keeping ceremonial Christian unity.

I refuse to be a Christian who tolerates a global Church where all people are not openly welcomed, fully celebrated, and equally cared for.

I refuse to be a Christian who speaks always with holy war rhetoric about an encroaching enemy horde that must be rallied against and defeated.

I refuse to be a Christian who is generous with damnation and stingy with Grace.

I refuse to be a Christian who can’t see the image of God in people of every color, every religious tradition, every sexual orientation.

I refuse to be a Christian who demands that others believe what I believe or live as I live or profess what I profess.

I refuse to be a Christian who sees the world in a hopeless spiral downward and can only condemn it or withdraw from it.

I refuse to be a Christian devoid of the character of Jesus; his humility, his compassion, his smallness, his gentleness with people’s wounds, his attention to the poor and the forgotten and the marginalized, his intolerance for religious hypocrisy, his clear expression of the love of God.

I refuse to be a Christian unless it means I live as a person of hospitality, of healing, of redemption, of justice, of expectation-defying Grace, of counterintuitive love. These are non-negotiables.

Yes, it is much more difficult to say it these days than it has ever been, but I still do say it.

I am still a Christian—but I refuse to be one without Jesus.








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760 thoughts on “The Kind of Christian I Refuse to Be

  1. So many people on here proving his point exactly. If you are getting defensive maybe you should stop and think about why. Take out those mirrors and have a long deep look.

  2. I must be a Jesuan. I like a lot of what that Jesus guy is supposed to have said, and what was then written about by some guys who didn’t even know him, whose writings were supposedly translated from languages I don’t know, into Latin. So no chance of any mistakes there, and we won’t write about gnostic gospels. Now Christians, they have always been evil, abusive, murderous, lying hypocrites, and head melters too who don’t like people. So, read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis.
    Be like me. Be a Jesuan, just love your neighbour.
    Anyway, his surname was OfNazareth, not Christ.

  3. I agree with 99.9% of what you say, however, I also know that although Jesus didn’t condemn the sinner, he did call them to a higher standard in the present and in the future: To the women caught in adultery: I do not condemn you, go and sin no more. I accept everyone for who they are: a child of God. However, I can not celebrate their sinfulness, love the sinner, hate the sin. I accept a person who doesn’t agree with me, however, out of love am I not supposed to help them to grow in their relationship with God, and to help them avoid the near occasions of sin?
    Universalism is heresy, live and let live is a copout on our responsibility to love your neighbor as yourself. Do it in a loving manner, being kind, gentle, with joy!
    I don’t know, just my two cents.

  4. This article is chock-full of one of those things Jesus specifically taught us NOT to do, which is JUDGMENT (“I thank my God I’m not like them”). It’s done quite cleverly, disguised as a call for people of God to hold themselves up to a higher standard than the people Pavlovitz is condemning.

    It’s not surprising he uses the term “reclaim”, because he uses the same judgmental tenor as the “Reclaim Jesus” people, to the point where I wonder if he is a disciple of Jim Wallis. But, ultimately, it’s a violation of the seventh deadly sin as listed in Proverbs 6: “sowing discord among the brethren.”

    Here’s another way to state my point: When you have a tug-of-war against a straw man you win every time. Using Jesus as the rope is shameful.

  5. 💖Amen to that George!🙏👍
    WOW!!! JESUS CHRIST in me,
    Does not allow me to be, all that negative garble stated above!!!
    Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of mankind! Every single one of us!!! All we have to do is accept his gift of Grace! He gives us our free will!😌🙏💖

  6. Let’s take a look at the Pavlovitz statement, and we’ll see some very delicately-worded barbs that need to be addressed. And I know that some may say, “Well, he’s 95% right-on, so cut him some slack.” But that 5% wrongness to me (not always, but definitely in this case) is like five tiny grains of potent poison in a spoonful of sugar…

    Pavlovitz begins with a dramatic statement about his Christianity, basically saying that the actions of an army of scarecrows makes him less likely to want to identify himself as a Christian. I would ask, why should it matter who it aligns him with “in peoples’ minds.” Peoples’ minds are what we are seeking to change, not to fear. God is not the author of fear.

    His list of “I refuse to be a Christian who…” statements is basically, as I said in my previous post, a way for him to pat himself on the back for his “good works” (or, more accurately, his “lack of evil works”), when Jesus SPECIFICALLY told us not to crow or show pride in the apparent goodness of the actions we perform. When he said “Judge not” he wasn’t just talking about judging others, but also ourselves. He wasn’t just talking about judging things as evil, but as good also. He is judging himself as somehow better, as somehow “more authentically Christian” than a bunch of faceless people (not one single actual example of what his enemy looks like in the real world, nor a single biblical reference, just a buncha platitudes)…

    He says “I refuse to be a Christian who can’t see the image of God in people of every color, every religious tradition, every sexual orientation,” simultaneously while he is refusing to see that image in the segment of the population above which he is setting himself in his prideful list.

    He says “I refuse to be a Christian who treasures allegiance to a flag or a country or a political party, above emulating Jesus,” without acknowledging that one CAN proclaim allegiance to a country like the US, whose Bill of Rights PROTECTS those who seek to emulate Jesus. This leads to people mistaking honest, good-hearted patriots for jackbooted Nazi thugs. I can’t abide by that characterization.

    In short, the list as a whole is summed up brilliantly in his statement about halfway through where he says, “the choices are to abandon the idea of claiming Christ altogether to avoid being deemed hateful by association in the eyes of so much of the watching world—-or to reclaim the name Christian so that it once again replicates the love of Jesus in the world.” And my question is, WHY did he create this false dichotomy where these are the ONLY two choices available? He doesn’t seem to realize that no matter how loving the church is, many Christians are GOING to be deemed hateful by the watching world. Why can Christ be CLAIMED on one side of his dualist choice, but has to be REclaimed in the other alternative? It’s like he has to somehow “rescue” the King of Kings from some vague cadre of wolves in sheeps’ clothing…

    His “I thank my God I’m not like them” attitude demonstrates to me that he IS like them, because his ultimate goal is to proclaim “There’s a segment of the population out there who claim to be Christian but are not, and I’M the guy who is equipped to judge them, so listen to me,” or as he himself states in his last line, “I am still a Christian–but I refuse to be one without Jesus.” Personally, if I had to choose between being a Christian without Jesus and being a Christian without Pavlovitz, you can probably guess which one I would choose, but I’m not equipped to condemn anyone, so I’d just leave it at that.

    So in summary: Christ is King. Love (the non-puffed-up kind) is the only way to go. Judgment is not Christian. Romans 11:32 applies to everyone, not just one side or another of Pavlovitz’ false choice.

  7. I am a Christian. I am Christian… can throw them away.They don’t mean much any more. I am Christlike says it better.

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