It’s always seemed to me that Christians are an easy target: their positive outlook deemed weird and out of touch. I certainly found my first real Christian friends (who actually went to church, and didn’t just claim a wild belief in some kind of deity) odd. They were so different to me: not as into drinking and going out and always so… nice.
The media’s opinion of Christians is confused. Some weeks they’re old, ditsy and meekly attempting to serve their tiny village community by being annoying and nosy; the next week they’re angry, organised, American and looking for something rational to protest against. It’s no wonder that we reject these outsiders: only hearing negative things seems to help us push them away and believe them to be isolated.
What we need to realise is that Christians are everywhere. Your lecturer, your flatmate, the person selling you your course pack and your bus driver could be Christian. The problem for the agnostics and atheists is that there’s no need to question or ask: Christianity is irrelevant. Whereas, for followers of Christ, it’s the singular most important thing in their lives and all that follows is prejudice.
My own background is atheistic, so it was only when I became a Christian that I saw and understood why it is that Christians appear so weak and weird. In fact, we’re young, relevant and passionate. Tens of thousands of young people went to Christian camps this Summer; thousands of Christians marched in Manchester for climate change on the eve of the Tory conference. Church builds community and gives ordinary people the possibility of doing something genuinely good. Why do my friends give their Saturday nights up to cook a meal for the homeless? They want those people to know that there are people that actually care about them.
It’s obviously not only churches and Christian charities that do good things. Nobody is saying that atheists and agnostics don’t have strong community or help the less fortunate in just as brilliant and genuine ways. My only problem is that when it’s a Christian doing something good, we’re all suspicious. When the church tries to reach out to people, it’s accused of indoctrination and of sexing itself up.
People have done horrible things in the name of Christ. This doesn’t mean that Christians are all creationist losers. We’re mostly normal people: struggling with essays, confused about our futures and begging for the world to give us a chance.
If you’re interested in meeting new people and having the opportunity to debate the issues that both atheism and Christianity raise, consider an Alpha course. Great platform to eat together, discuss, then argue before heading to the pub. Starting this week at St Peter’s Brighton and other churches in the area.