The word “Christian” makes a very bad adjective. In fact, there should be an automatic red flag that pops up in your mind every time you see or hear it, or especially when you try to use it as such. When you’re about to write or say “Christian something-or-other,” there needs to be a pause in order to make sure that is what you truly want to portray.
A Christian is a person, almost never a classification. “Christian” as a classification poses numerous problems and artificial delineations. It gives the impression that the Christian thing is more sacred than that which is not, and this is not necessarily true. It gives the assumption that that which is not Christian is suspect, and that, too, is not necessarily true. The label has given rise to an artificial market full of products and services created by Christians (and in some cases non-Christians) for Christians.
The minute you start to classify in society what is Christian, that means someone or something other than Jesus Christ chooses what the agenda is going to be, and in many ways that has already been decided by society itself. Jesus wants to be represented in the world in and through us, His people. He said that the world would know we are His disciples primarily by our love. And who has chosen love to be the identifying mark for Christians in culture? Unfortunately it’s come out to be something a lot closer to hate that has identified us in the world.
However, the most unfortunate result of the false identification of Christians is to remove the influence of Christians from the wider culture and confine it to a small segment of society that already believes. For instance, we now have “faith-based” movies that are made largely by non-Christians and marketed to Christians. And this exists for one reason, to make money off a lucrative segment of movie-goers uncovered by the huge success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
The easiest way to sort this out and get the influence of believers back on track in the world is to only recognize “Christian” as a noun — a person. The minute it becomes anything else, something is lost. The message gets truncated. The power of Christ in a person’s life gets reduced to issues — something someone other than Christ decides is “Christian.”
We are here to bring salt and light into all segments of society and to allow the many subtle and not-so-subtle aspects of the presence of Christ in our lives to permeate all that we say and do in the world. And that’s because we are Christians (noun), not because we are representing a Christian (adj.) idea, or a Christian agenda. It’s the real multi-faceted presence of Christ in us wherever we go, whatever we do.