This response by Marjory Hord Méndez of Mexico placed earned runner-up honors in our November writing contest. Contest participants were invited to respond to this prompt in 400 words or less: Write a letter in response to someone who says, “When I see how Christians act, I don’t want to become one.”
Of her piece, contest co-judges Bernice Lee and Soo-Inn Tan of the Graceworks ministry in Singapore said, “You told a story of your own disappointment and that helped to build a bridge to the reader; your examples were relatable.” Congratulations, Marjory! We will be sharing more of the submissions in the months to come as well.
Me? Be Like Those Christians?
by Marjory Hord Méndez
You’ve told me there’s no way you want to become a Christian after you’ve seen the way some of “those people” speak and behave. I’ve totally got it!
When I was a kid, we knew a number of missionaries. They were “nice” people, but at times I got the idea that to believe like them, you’d have to dress in a very prim, old-fashioned way and not do all kinds of things that I considered normal. They may not have said it, but the feeling was that they were “holier than thou.” Other Christians I met later on seemed to be all about “what you can’t do” and hardly ever about being like Jesus.
I’ve also been hurt by people who claimed they were followers of Christ, but acted judgmental and unforgiving.
Then, there were those “hell-fire and brimstone” sermons on the radio and TV that certainly didn’t draw one to seeking truth, love, and forgiveness from God. For sure, I’m not the only one who would quickly change the station or channel.
A classmate who broke those stereotypes reached out to me in college. Friendly—and not at all judgmental or aggressive—she drew me into a conversation about my beliefs as we were discussing Jesus Christ Superstar. Gradually, I understood that letting God take control of my life didn’t mean signing on the line for a bunch of rules. It didn’t mean being holier than anyone, but in fact realizing I couldn’t be good at all except through an inside cleanup job, with Jesus in charge.
Then, I began to meet other people like Wendy, who radiated joy. What a difference from the false image I’d had of Christians from the few I remembered! (Though now I remember some exceptions from my childhood). A church welcomed me and the young people there were eager to learn and apply the Bible to their daily lives and find answers to their questions. They didn’t look down on me with my hippie outfits, either.
All I want to say is: Don’t take those stereotypes as the norm. Find true followers of Christ who are humble enough to admit their weaknesses and their need to grow. If there are hypocrites here and there, remember that a church is a hospital for the sick, not a club for the perfect.
Wishing you the best!
Marjorie (Margie) Hord Méndez of Puebla, Mexico, is an anthropologist and linguist, a university English professor, and editor of Alianza magazine. She is co-author of the devotional book Un Año con Dios (Lifeway), and leader of numerous communications training workshops in Puebla.
>> Read Philip Roa’s first place submission, “The Truth about Christianity,” here.