I always hesitate to call myself a Christian. The first followers of Jesus were coming from religious backgrounds and pagan practices. They were later referred to as “the way”, but Jesus himself didn’t give any names to anything. So why should we?
Being a follower of Jesus is about being freed by God’s love, a love that we are blessed with through God’s grace. Paul himself a religious man converted to believer describes the fruit of this spirit perfectly:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!Galatians 5:22-23
When Jesus came, there was already an ongoing situation with religion and religious people that was not surprising back then – and it isn’t surprising now.
If we come off as stiff, judgmental, hypocritical and legalist, that might still make us Christians, but certainly doesn’t make us Jesus followers. Christian world leaders using their religion to justify violence and discrimination is just one of many red flags rightfully attached to Christianity.
Our attitude toward others ultimately depends on how much of a ‘fight’ we put up with the worst in ourselves. In other words, the evil that inhabits us is always there, but if we choose to live under God’s grace and not under the law or religion, we will make it – because the righteous will live by faith.