Sometimes it is really hard to be a Christian.
Sometimes we get lumped together, all in one group. And, it's not fair. Sometimes we have high expectations of ourselves and others. And, we often feel disappointed when we don't reach them. Sometimes we pray, and we hope, and we worship God together - but yet we feel like nobody understands us.
So, who is a Christian? Well, simply - it's a person who has accepted, and truly believes that Jesus Christ is God's son who was created by God, the father of all creation, brought to earth to show us how to live in God's favor. And most importantly, this Jesus Christ died a horrible, demeaning death, to "take on" our sins and to give forgiveness for them... and to show, through his resurrection, that death is NOT the end of who we are. God has another "something" for us. Heaven.
A Christian doesn't know HOW it happened but a Christian does know it it true.
There comes a comfort in this belief. Some days it's almost so wonderful that you just wish everyone would/could believe - because it would seem that we would all be so very happy, and so caring about each other, and "in peace" together in this world.
But, then there are the other days. Most days. Christians (the general word) do not accept the ways of other Christian believers. Like all humanity, we want to decide what is right and wrong with them...as we try to figure out what God really wants from us. We read the Bible, and we look at the words differently. Some take every verse very literally. Some consider it in context of the time it was written. Divinely given vs. humanly written.
So Christians become classified... some ultra conservative, some middle-of-the-roaders, some very free-spirited in what they accept. Some fear God, some never challenge, some love a church experience, some never step in one. Some believe God can change situations while some know it's all about man's "free will." Some baptize, some dedicate. The list of differences is long! I could go on and on.
A Christian is also catergorized by how they were raised, and what church and denomination they attend, and how they feel on political issues.
So, who am I? What kind of Christian am I?? I have found what works for me personally, and I love my relationship with God. It is my individual "truth" and I know, hey, it's between God and me...and we are good! I was raised Lutheran and still am. I know it well - and it's comfortable, and at times it gives me great joy - and at other times it gives me peace. It gives me community and it gives me an outlet for service to others.
Other Christians have found that same feeling elsewhere. Perhaps they believe a bit different on some issues. It's okay. I don't really think God cares - as long as ALL CHRISTIANS accept the differences with love and respect. Love is God's greatest commission to us all. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
And, whew, that IS the hard thing to do sometimes. Even between Christians! It means loving those different than you - in all ways. Looks, language, politics, race, intellect, and abilities. It means accepting all the differences. This includes loving ALL who are not Christians too.
It means that sometimes we are 'mistaken' as "that" kind of Christian (whatever it is) ... or, it means standing on a belief that is not always accepted.
As I write this on this Monday morning I think about situations here, now... and how faith has been tested at my church, and with some of my favorite people. All Christians. But different.
Yes, sometimes it's really hard to be a Christian.
BUT... it is who I am, and my faith is a part of everything I do.