Being An “Equitable” Christian
For a while, I very proudly worked in a Mental Health Organization. I absolutely loved that job. But, when I first started I was very intimidated by all the language and responsibility around supporting “Emotionally Disturbed” students. So, in a meeting, in an effort to self-disclose and get to know some of my coworkers, I stated that I was a strict Christian. One of my fellow teachers responded with, “Isn’t working here hard for you?” What they really meant was because I was a Christian and would be working in an environment where the students regularly used profanity, were drug abusers, and some were homosexual, my judgement, as a result of my faith, would of course be biased.
I was partially offended by their question, and underlying assumption about me, as a Christian, and quickly steadied myself to respond, only to find out that we had no more time to talk. After that meeting, I became plagued with questions; Do the other teachers really think that being a Christian means that I cannot enjoy helping others with different beliefs and/or lifestyles than my own? If they wondered that, what would the students think if it ever got out? How was I going to be professional with them when talking about my faith?
Sometimes, it seems, that the most overlooked concept of God’s personality is his love. Both, professing Christians and those who gawk at the system of the church discount that God himself is the full manifestation of love; for “…God is love”(1 John 4:8). Love was and is still the most important teaching in the Bible; “…love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Our love does not stop just because someone is cussing us out, drinks, uses drugs, or is part of the LGBTQIA community. The love of Christ is to any and all people. And, as Christians we are to not only love, but also demonstrate, through action, our love for our fellowman; for by this shall all men know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ (John 13:35).
Now, I’ll admit, some pockets of churches have given Christians a bad reputation, and I do not commend or condone their actions. But, their perspective, however skewed, does stem from biblical truth. Yes, Christians are required to love everyone, however, we cannot agree with anything that opposes the teachings of Jesus Christ, which are detailed throughout the Bible. We must “abhor all that is evil” (Romans 12:9) and in God’s eyes sin is sin, no matter what sin it is. So, while I see you and genuinely care about you as a person, I do not have an obligation to agree with you, and I extend to you the same courtesy.
Being an Equitable Christian does not require agreement. However, it does require that we recognize each other’s personhood and meet other minds with curiosity and a willingness to listen. Being a truly unprejudiced Christian requires awareness of intersectionality, knowing that people in society who are a part of and/or are of a particular race, class, or gender are at a disadvantage in our society and are more often than not discriminated against based solely upon what makes them different. Moreover, as Christians we must acknowledge that people are multi-layered and that we must minister to them right where they are as they are. This requires that we are fair and just to everyone we come in contact with. Tolerance and understanding of everyone’s truths are concepts that come together to form that equitable lens. My faith was eventually tested on that job, by a student, nevertheless, I always treated them with such kindness and respect that it was never even a problem.