Stereotypes are a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. If we are honest, we’ve all heard stereotypes about some group of people at one time or another. All men are dogs. All women are hopeless romantics. All Americans are arrogant. All black people like chicken. You have probably heard, maybe said and agreed with, some stereotypes about other people. No, it is not acceptable to generalize or assume everyone is the same in that group. Stereotypes are often misconceptions and not the real truth of the people they represent.
Christians are not exempt from stereotypes.
Whether you are out witnessing, a new Christian, old man in the faith, or just someone who posted ‘I am a Christian’ on social media, you have heard some type of stereotypes about Christians. Let’s look at three common stereotypes about Christians. Are they misconceptions about Christians or is it the real truth?
Christians are boring
Time and time again, people have said ‘Christians are boring. Ya’ll don’t do anything fun.’ Unfortunately, some people actually wholeheartedly believe that once they get saved, they give up fun for a black and white life. Some believe that Christianity is about a book of rules that outline what you can and cannot do. This is definitely a misconception because there is no freedom like being free in Christ. Actually, pleasing the flesh is pretty boring. Partying, smoking, drinking, having premarital sex, fighting, breaking the law, hating one another can be taxing and monotonous. You continue to give yourself what it wants is fun for a short while, but eventually leads to ruin. A true Christian is always striving, seeking, pressing to be more like Christ and give glory to God. Loving God never gets monotonous. Christians are not boring; they are free. Religion is boring. Relationship with the One True God is the most loving and joy-filled experiences you can ever have.
Christians are judgmental
Why in the world would people say that? Where did they get the notion that Christians were judgmental? Probably from Christians. The same people who say they “love God so much and He has done a great work in their hearts,” are often the same ones that if a brother or sister falls, they stop speaking to them. Even between denominations, if someone has interpreted a verse differently than you, all of a sudden they are not ‘as Christian’ or a ‘good Christian’ like you and your clique, I mean, church. You may be right. Your interpretation of scripture, your daily walk and your view on life, may be aligned with the Bible, but you are no better than the next person. Daily, Christians need a reality check because “all have sinned.” Unfortunately, I have made this stereotype true at times. I have wrongfully and publicly judged a fellow believer ‘in the name of Jesus’ with the wrong heart.
Many people see the condemnation of believers against their fellow believers! Who would want to be a part of a community like that? Plus late, great Tupac said ‘Only God can judge me’, and because ‘Pac said it, it has to be theologically sound, right?’ Absolutely not. We are called to have righteous, wise, graceful, and Godly judgement in love AFTER we have examined ourselves. The disunity in the body pushes people away from the true love of God. We have to constantly ask God to cleanse our hearts, remove our pride, and allow Himself to be seen in our talk and walk.
Christians are hypocritical
With the many scandals that make headline news coming from the church, this stereotype is very common amongst unbelievers. They see several preachers, that adamantly preach against premarital sex and adultery, have to step down because they have had an affair. Countless leaders in the church have been accused of fraud or embezzlement. Others have been arrested on church grounds. Are Christians hypocrites? Is it a truth that Christians teach one thing but live another? I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I was a hypocrite. I fit the stereotype. If you had a conversation with me, it sounded really good because I knew some scriptures, how to lift my hands in church, and the churchy cliches. While in actuality, my heart was not right. It was not until I really allowed Jesus to be Lord and Master of my life, that I was no longer a hypocrite. I didn’t share something out of the Bible then live a totally different way. It should not be named among the Body. Don’t perpetrate the stereotype that ‘Christians are hypocrites.’ Live the word you teach, post, and preach.
These are just a few of the stereotypes that non-believers have of Christians. If you find yourself living up to these stereotypes or misconceptions, ask yourself why did you come into the faith of Jesus? Was it to still live like the world, just with a different title, or was it because you truly wanted to represent and follow Christ? Maybe a reason why these stereotypes exist is because there are religious people who abuse the title, ‘Christian.’ These people live by tradition and religion without true knowledge of a relationship with Christ.
I encourage you to change the stereotype.
By no means am I suggesting that Christians have to be perfect. We are sinful humans. Things will go wrong. We will mess up. But we should strive to be more like Christ. Live a life that is full of God’s love and free from the devil’s control. The people described in the stereotype are the only ones who have the power to change the stereotype. If enough Christians show non-believers that it’s not about rules, we all are jacked up, and we really are trying our best to please God, maybe witnessing would not be so hard. No one wants to join a family of boring, condemning, hypocritical people.
There should be a common thread that can be seen from those who consider themselves Christians. The Christian stereotype should only be a positive reflection of Christ. People should stereotype Christians as loving, generous, helpful, and most of all, Christ-like. Expressing fruits of the spirit should be a stereotype of Christians.
What are some other Christian stereotypes that you have heard? Are they misconceptions or truths?