*This article is sponsored by The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.
The way the world sees the church is often tainted by the steady cycle of stereotypes perpetuated by pop culture, old traditions and even social media. If I mention Ned Flanders, you know what I mean.
From the world’s perspective, Christians are often seen as the out of touch neighbors who never sin but love to judge those who do. Now, to be fair, sometimes these stereotypes contain a kernel of truth, but I would argue that most of the truth is present only in small pockets of Christianity and not in the majority of believers practicing their faith.
These popular stereotypes are teased out in The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, a new faith-based rom-com from producer Dallas Jenkins that releases this week in theaters. In it, Gavin Stone, played by actor Brett Dalton, is a washed up childhood celebrity who’s forced to return home and do community service. Not happy cleaning toilets, Stone decides to try out for the part of Jesus in the church’s passion play. He also falls for the play’s director, Kelly Richardson, played by Anjelah Johnson (you might remember her as Bon Qui Qui from Mad TV). With little church experience, Stone plays out what he believes to be the role of a “good” Christian and finds himself in some hilarious situations.
In the end, Stone discovers his paper-thin version of Christianity isn’t accurate, but he also finds out he has much more in common with church-goers than he ever expected. It’s a beautiful picture of grace with a lot of laughs in between—not to mention heart.
Once Stone gets past the cliched stereotypes of Christianity, the heart of the gospel becomes authentic. In many ways, this is what we all need to do. That being said, here are 10 popular stereotypes about Christians we should all agree are wrong, and it’s only when we get past these that we find an authentic faith in the church today.
1. To be a good Christian, you have to dress the part
Ever pretended to be a Christian so you can get out of community service and impress a pastor’s daughter? Gavin has. Here’s his advice on church etiquette:
Posted by The Resurrection of Gavin Stone on Friday, January 13, 2017
Let’s be clear, there is NO dress code for Christians. Now there are many places in Scripture that call for modesty, but nothing about rationing out khakis and button-down shirts (for men) or denim jumpers and long doily shawls (for women). Following Christ is much more about what’s on the inside than out.
2. Christians are all Bible-thumpers
When you walk into a church, it’s likely that no one will accost you with prophetic Scripture or yell at you to repent on the spot. Most Christians are normal people who love Jesus and are trying to live out his command to love others. There are some Bible-thumpers out there who just want to shout you down, but those are few and far between. Most Christians are normal, rational people.
3. Christians just want to convert you
To be honest, every true Christian has a desire to see more people come to faith in Jesus, but that’s not the only driver for inviting new people to church. Real Christians actually care about you as a person. And they’re not that different from you at all. In most cases, Christians want to learn more about you, to be friends and to point you in the direction of Jesus in a casual way. But mostly, they just want to be a good friend.
4. Christians are all Republicans
We just had an election, and by the looks of social media, one could make the conclusion that ALL Christians are forced to be Republicans. However, being a Christian isn’t about following an earthly political party, but a heavenly one. All Christians are FOR King Jesus, but when it comes to national politics, there’s a lot of freedom.
5. Christians are perfect
This could be the most dangerous one. Christians are no different than any other human being, aside from their faith in Christ. Christians still blow it, hide their sin at times and manipulate others. Someone once said being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect, just forgiven. And it’s true.
6. Christians are all judgmental
This one can be hard to argue with, especially when you see extreme Christians in the news bashing organizations and individuals left and right. However, most everyday Christians see others through a lens of grace, because they’ve been forgiven so much themselves. In other words, they’re not looking to the world with a wagging finger of condemnation, but a humble invitation to experience freedom in Christ.
7. Christians are uneducated
Some people believe Christians have to be uneducated to believe in the Bible, miracles and the resurrection of Jesus, but most Christians approach the Bible with both faith and their intellect. In fact, some of the greatest inventions in art, architecture and medicine have been created by passionate Christians. Also, to be fair, believing that the world came into existence through mutations or a cataclysmic event requires the same amount of faith. Maybe more.
8. Christians are all hypocrites
This one is tricky because Christians are hypocrites, but so is every human being alive. We all say one thing and do another at some time in our lives. But to call an entire group of people out as hypocrites is hypocritical in itself. Remember number 5…Christians aren’t perfect.
9. Christians don’t like to have fun
Christians, in general, love to have fun just as much as the average person. Some Christians love extreme sports, dancing, wild adventures and great parties. In fact, following Jesus can put you in some pretty exciting (and tough) situations. However, if by fun you mean drunken parties and lots of reckless decisions about sex…then you would be correct—Christians aren’t into that kind of fun. Why? Because that kind of lifestyle never brings real joy—only short-lived fun with a lot of pain and consequences.
10. Christians are close-minded
It’s true Christians desire to live their lives according to the Bible, and that requires adherence to a set of truths, but Christians are typically open to new ideas about science, medicine, psychology, art and life in general. In fact, Christians are usually fascinated by learning, listening and growing. After all, when someone comes to faith in Jesus, they enter into a relationship with the Creator of all things. That requires one to embrace a greater level of mystery with real humility.
*Have a friend who wrestles with stereotypical Christianity—take them to see Gavin Stone. It’s a fun and disarming way to create a great conversation around authentic faith. Oh, and it’s hilarious.