When I changed my e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org, I found it both enjoyable and amusing to sit back and read the varied responses from friends and family. Some people were confused. "What kind of e-mail address is that? Is there a deeper meaning?" Others were offended. "Are you calling me a loser?" Some people seemed rather concerned about my spiritual condition. "Are you still a Christian? Are you backsliding?" Then there was my aunt, who said nothing but signed her next e-mail to me: "A loser, Auntie Lois."
I have to admit, I thrived on the small controversy that unfolded before me. I grinned when offended friends sent me e-mails. I quite enjoyed keeping people in the dark. "What does it mean?" they would ask. "Think about it," would be my reply. Christianity is for losers. What a stupid, irreverent statement for a Christian to make!
Or is it?
First off, can one say the opposite, that "Christianity is not for losers," or "Christianity is for winners?" Let’s look back to the early days of Christianity. No, let’s look to Christ Himself. In the Word, we are given accounts of the kind of company Jesus met with and the people He called. Who did He call? Who did He invest most of His time? With "good people?"
After all, that is what we would expect right about now. If Christ were here today, many of us would expect Him to be in the company of "good people." Many of us would look for Him right alongside Billy Graham and Matt Redman. Why shouldn’t He be with them? They are good, Christian folks, as am I! Of course, we all think Jesus would want to hang out with us. But let’s take a look at who Christ did call and hang out with. A tax collector. An adulteress. A traitor. Fishermen. A coward. This group does not exactly look like an unshakeable foundation for the Kingdom of God, but as we look closer, we see that that is precisely why He chose and used them.
They were losers.
Because they were not good enough, only He could be. Their own miserable condition forced them to build on something larger and stronger than themselves. It’s sad how we have fallen into the Pharisaical trap of thinking Christianity is for good people, like us. This is a myth. Christianity is not for good people; it never has been. Somewhere, somehow we got confused into thinking Christianity is not for losers. This has had two rather large negative effects.
First of all, many people have turned away from Christ and the church because they feel they are not good enough. They are painfully aware of their own inadequacy, and, in many cases, Christians only intensify their awareness. Thus they turn away, for they reason that they are not good enough to be Christians. What they fail to see is that "not being good enough" is the very first prerequisite to being a Christian. If you are good enough to be a Christian, then you need not become one. Indeed, you cannot. The essence of the Christian faith is that we fall short. We cannot bridge the gap–the gaping chasm between man and God. Only He can bridge it. We must realize that, and embrace it as a foundational truth in both theology and practice. Our righteousness truly is nothing more than filthy rags.
The second effect this myth has had is that it breaks down any differentiation between Christianity and other religions. If Christianity is for good people, than it is nothing more than just another religion. There is nothing to set it apart from belief systems like Hinduism and Islam. In religion, you get what you deserve. True Christian teaching stakes the radical claim that the opposite is true! The Christian does not get the punishment that he deserves, instead he receives that which he does not deserve! Christianity stands in stark contrast to all other religions because of this. Grace and karma are like black and white. However, if our Christianity is based on the myth that it is a belief system for good people, then the grace which we profess is not grace at all, but karma in disguise. It is true that Christianity is not a religion. But man has and is able to turn it into one. We must be wary of that.
When asking people what they thought my email address meant, a few thought about it and said, "You must be talking about what Christianity has become, with all its rules and hypocrisy. That is for losers." No, that’s backwards. Fake, religious Christianity is for winners–people that are good enough and have it all together. People who think that they do not need grace.
But true Christianity is for failures. People who screw up and know it. People who embrace grace at the risk of abusing it. People who are as shifty and unstable as the sand – and thus need a Rock on which to build.
It’s for losers.
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