Jesus and Christianity
There is a difference
It always saddens me to find out that someone turned away from Jesus because of the off-putting behaviors of those who claim to follow Him. I can definitely understand the pain one might experience as a result of a Christian falling very short of displaying the love of God and I can understand the knee jerk reaction to no longer want to associate with some who say they are fellow Christians but... that has nothing to do with your own relationship with the Lord. I'll explain my view. I do not follow Jesus based on what my Pastor says on Sundays or based on how those around me who profess Christianity act and live. See, my relationship is not rooted in Christianity, it's rooted in the Christ. And when we find ourselves easily (or maybe not so easily) walking away from the One to Whom we've claimed to give our lives, we have to examine what/Who we were actually following and for what/Whom we were actually living.
Christianity is defined as the religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices. But being in an intimate relationship with the God of the universe goes so much deeper than mere Christianity. Being in a relationship with God is having Him commune with you and allow you to do the same. It's having the power that rose Jesus from the dead alive in you. It's knowing that your hope of salvation cannot be shaken or taken from you-- and that Hope is Jesus. 'Christianity' is just the label that we gave based off of the name that the original followers of Jesus were called way back in the Bible days*. It seems as though the definition of Christianity gets changed so much depending on who you talk to and that's why we shouldn't be "following" Christianity. We should be following the Christ. Being a Christian is not just reading the Bible about what Jesus did but it's putting those truths into action. It's getting to know Him and not just about Him.
I've been hurt by Christians before, who hasn't? But my relationship with Jesus has nothing to do with them and what they did. The truth is, my relationship with the Lord is simply that, my relationship with Him. It has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with Him. And He has never failed me. The awful and hard things I've experienced in life have not deterred me from seeking after Jesus. There was a time when I was fearful of my closeness to the Lord but that is a different situation. What I am hopeful to drive home is that if there is something that anyone does that causes us to shrink away from Jesus or "Christianity", we need to look at what our hope was in. We can't allow the actions of others to turn us away from the true and living God, even when they claim to follow Him. If we have a good enough understanding of the Word and Spirit of God, then our attitude won't be one of "I want nothing to do with the God they serve". Instead, we would pray for those who seem to "give Christianity a bad name" or at the very least, just keep a healthy distance from those people.
It is an inevitability that people, whether Christian or not, will disappoint and wound us. And it is in those moments, or after them, that we must seek God harder to separate the difference in what they did and what Jesus would do. You know that now clichéd saying? Well even Christ followers won't always do it. But Jesus will always do what Jesus would do. Follow Jesus over everything else. And just because it sounds like Jesus, doesn't mean it is Him.