I wish more Christians realized that when we use the word “Christian” as a synonym for “ethical” we are insulting the rest of the world. My church has lost members because I refuse to display the Christian Yellow Pages in our foyer. The idea behind such a phonebook is that by shopping from Christian merchants one is less likely to be cheated. But what kind of a worldview is that? Is every Jew like Shakespeare’s anti-Semitic character in Merchant of Venice? Is every atheist indifferent to matters of virtue?
To use the word “Christian” as a synonym for “good” drifts very close to self worship. Are we Christians really better than ordinary humans? After thirty years of ministry I have seen very little evidence of it. We may be better to people from our own group, but then so is the mafia.
Jesus said the test of ethics is how we treat the outsiders to our group. To love another, we must surrender any desire to shape them into our own image. This means we must surrender the desire to convert them. We cannot answer the call to love if we see the Jewish person or atheist only as a potential Christian. To answer Jesus’ call, we must love the Jewish person as a Jew and the nonbeliever as an atheist.
When Jesus walked the earth there was no church to convert to, there was no Bible to read, and no creeds to brainwash converts with. So Jesus did not come to convert the world to a sect that did not yet exist, he came to convert us all to communities of universal love. Would that more Christians knew the inclusive universal love Christ taught before they tried to spread their own smaller sectarian idea of it.