By Kayla Kauffman
Kayla Kauffman joined Veterans United in 2020 and currently works as a loan coordinator. She has a passion for family and women’s ministries. She supports her husband Michael as they pastor CenterPoint church in Columbia. She and her husband served as foster parents for over 10 years with over 30 kids in and out of their home, of which they’ve adopted 4. They now spend their time enjoying life with their 6 children.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was constantly caught hanging out with sinners? And it’s not as if Jesus was dragging people into the temple, rebuking them, and demanding they repent. People were drawn to Jesus. They wanted to be with him. That’s because he met them exactly where they were.
The word ‘Christian’ means ‘little Christ.’ That’s what we’re claiming to be when we claim to be followers of Jesus. We are not claiming perfection, as that is saved specifically for Jesus, but we are dedicating ourselves to be a little more like Jesus everyday.
So why does it seem like the term ‘Christian’ seems to turn more people away than to draw them near? Christianity has become synonymous with terms like judgy, hypocritical, prejudice, discriminatory, homo-phobic, conservative (aka. ‘Not woke’), or the worst – boring!
So what drew people to Jesus? He certainly wasn’t boring! Yes, he was perfect – but not in the eyes of the religious gurus of his day. In fact, Jesus went against all kinds of social norms – talking to women, sitting with children, and eating with tax collectors. His great grandma was a prostitute!
What drew people to Jesus, but seemingly away from Christianity today?
One answer could be that more often than not, we equate ‘Chrianity’ with ‘perfection.’
How can we, as imitators of Christ, draw people towards us, hopefully, pointing them towards Jesus – not push them away?
The answer is simple.
Love. Real love.
Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you LOVE one another.”
When my husband and I first entered the world of professional minsity, we were warned about the ‘glass house effect’. Simply meaning that our homes would become like a glass house where people from the outside would want to peek in to make sure we were living in a way they deemed ‘worthy’ or ‘unhypocritical’ of what we claimed to be.
It was hard. It didn’t feel like Elsa’s magical glass tower where we lived out some sort of fairy tale fantasy. Do you want to know what it felt like? A fish bowl. A fish bowl where the cat was hovering over waiting for us to make one wrong move so it could pouce.
I was so focused on trying to ‘get it right’ that I forgot to keep it ‘real.’ I seemed unrelatable to certain people. One of my best friends at the time made the comment, “You don’t know how hard it is to be a mom because your kids are perfect.”
Wow. That hurt.
She was wrong. But she was also right.
She was wrong in the sense that, no, my kids were NOT perfect. But she was right in the sense that I was trying too hard to make it seem like we were the perfect pastoral family.
I was so busy trying to seem perfect, trying to build my glass house with reflections of how I wanted us to be seen that I wasn’t letting people see the real us. I wasn’t relatable. Hiding my imperfections made me seem arrogant, conceited, and condescending. People weren’t drawn to me. I was living like the ‘holier than thou’ Pharisees of Jesus’ day. The very opposite of the Real-ness that drew people to Jesus.
And not on purpose. I didn’t mean to. I just made the mistake of doing what a lot of Christians do – they push for perfection instead of love. Real, nitty gritty, jump in the mud pit with you kind of love. Real love isn’t afraid to get dirty and let other people see the stain of our own sins. Love is letting others see our imperfections so they know we need Jesus just as much as they do.
How can we be a little more like Jesus today than we were yesterday?
But simple doesn’t mean easy.
It’s not easy to meet people where they are. They’re human. They’re messy.
But so are we. And we can’t shy away from showing others the ‘real’ us – in spite of our imperfections. We’re just a bunch of messed up, messy people, trying to do what’s right in the eyes of our Savior. We’re not any more perfect than anyone else. If the world could only see that – maybe, just maybe, the term ‘Christian’ wouldn’t be deemed as such a bad thing.
Jesus, while perfect, was also real. He shared life with the people around him. He wasn’t afraid to break bread with a sinner, to hug a leper, or heal the undeserving.
How can we be like Jesus?
We open our lives, our homes, and our hearts to those around us.
Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to listen.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is open our hearts to show our imperfections so others know they are not alone.
We don’t judge.
We don’t condone.
We don’t have to agree.
The world should know us by our love.
Real love – It’s the simplest thing we can do.