I grew up in the era when the shift was being made from only the high achievers get trophies to everyone gets a trophy because we don’t want to harm any fragile self images of these kids. Self image was a big deal not only when I was in high school but when I started working with students as a youth pastor. However, I’ve found that a lot of the self image stuff was insincere and intended to make you “feel good” regardless of whether it was true or not. There was some value as focus was intended to shift from physical appearance to character etc. But for the most part, I’m not sure how truly helpful this “self image obsession” turned out to be.
Hope is a powerful thing, yet I’m not sure we realize just how powerful or how necessary it is. Think about how much activity ceases without hope. Consider hopelessness as one of the primary drivers in depression. And then think about our role as Christians and as a church – we are dispensers of hope, or at least we’re supposed to be. All kinds of broken, beat up and otherwise hopeless people were drawn to Jesus like a magnet. It’s like when Jesus was around there was possibility, there was hope. With Jesus anything was possible, and he demonstrated it regularly. My struggle as a Christian and the many Christians I see around me, is it seems that we are just as prone to losing hope as those who don’t know Jesus. We find ourselves getting discouraged, depressed and feeling like giving up with the same kind of regularity as those outside of faith. And when those who are intended to traffic in faith, love and HOPE fail to even experience in themselves, what do we have to offer?
When I ask people, “What is a Christian?” they don’t usually respond with words like love, compassion, grace; usually they describe a person who’s anti something. Jesus was not primarily known for what he was against. He was known for serving people who had needs, feeding people who were hungry, and giving water to the thirsty. If we [Christians] were known primarily for that, then we could cut through so many divisions. . . . Christians often have a bad reputation. People think of Christians as uptight and judgmental. Odd, I thought, that [our version of Christianity] has come to convey the opposite of God’s intent, as it’s lived out through us.