(Some of the following are great choices if God leads you to make them on a personal level. The problem comes in when we believe they are automatically better for everyone and the standard for maturity in Christ. Confession: I listen to Christian music and hate gory movies. -JP)
Everyone knows Christians are supposed to love one another. But what we really want down deep is for one another to love us.
Unfortunately, with condemnation, hypocrisy, and the overall lack of understanding of biblical maturity, that’s not too easy in the church today. So I’ve identified ten simple ways, if you do them, you can absolutely know you’ll be adored by Christians and admired by the Christian community.
1. Stop drinking alcohol completely.
If you’re an alcoholic, this is a no-brainer (please stop drinking). And just like the Bible says, people should never get drunk. But if you don’t struggle with either of these, here’s a little secret — stop drinking anyway. You are instantly holier once you’ve proclaimed to at least one other person in the Christian community that you’ll never drink again. And the good news is, it multiplies from there. Every person you tell spreads the gospel of your newfound devotion and your perceived maturity skyrockets. Stick to it and they may name a university after you. This kind of hardcore devotion speaks volumes to other Christians and guarantees you never run the risk of being called a glutton and a drunkard like Jesus.
2. Dress to the nine’s in church.
My wife loves to dress up for church. Her enthusiastic attitude honors God. I prefer to dress down because I like to be comfortable without pretense. Both perspectives are fine. But if you really want a guaranteed way to move beyond personal faith to impressing your peers, out-dress the pastor, and look down on others who don’t. They can’t possibly be as serious about their faith as you are about your tie clip.
3. NEVER go to R-rated movies.
Sure, Happy Feet’s depiction of humanity is likely more morally reprehensible that the latest Rambo movie, in which Stallone rescues captured Christians. That’s not the point. In fact, the point is the movie doesn’t matter. You might look away during those steamy scenes (hint- you should) or prefer more realistic depictions of war (meh). But so what? People will think you’re a stronger Christian if you loudly and adamantly swear off R-rated movies altogether. Instant respect. Excluding Passion of the Christ, because that blood was holy.
4. Stop listening to secular music.
There’s a reason many churches play worship music in the lobby 24/7. Demons are repelled by it. Your favorite Cat Stevens album, on the other hand, is probably the reason you’re contemplating defecting to the Middle East and joining a terrorist cell. And Jay-Z could be the cause of those gaudy chrome rims on your SUV, and why you’re considering a humiliatingly awful name for your next child (though he might also make you objectify women). The trick is to listen to Third Day on repeat, even while you sleep. Ear buds and raspy Christian vocals will keep your spiritual desire always increasing, though also possibly your tone deafness.
5. Boycott Halloween. Go to a Harvest Fest.
There are 364 days of the year to glorify God. The devil only gets one. Why on earth would you dress your child up like a pirate and send him out into the middle of it? Oh. Snickers. Well, if you’re looking for a sugar high rather than a neighborly door-to-door looting, head to the church parking lot, call your kid Paul with an eye patch, and decry the horrors of cultural holidays that poke fun at evils like costume dress-up and traditions started in superstition. Just don’t mention at the Harvest Fest that Christmas trees were once used to worship the Queen of Winter Solstice or you’ll have to start decorating your coat rack.
6. Post offensive pictures making fun of liberals on social media.
This works especially well if you de-friend all the liberals you know first. Then no one will be angry, and all your Christian friends will love you. But you probably don’t know too many liberals, so you’re okay. Simply make a list of everyone who likes/favorites the photos and post them directly to their Facebook walls or Twitter feeds in the future and you’ll be best friends for life. Any colateral damage of offended acquaintances is likely liberals who slipped through your de-friend filter, so it’s cool.
7. NEVER attend a club or after-hours restaurant.
This is common sense. I once was a member of a Christian breakdance crew that danced in clubs, wore “Jesus Christ is life” shirts, and prayed with people. Big mistake. A lady at my church heard about the mission and said she’d pray to God I never step in another club again. And it worked. Though I personally wasn’t tempted at the club, I took a couple months off, and I have to admit during that time the only danger I faced was apathy.
8. Attack non-Christians on Facebook.
This is a lot easier once you’ve weeded out the liberals, but if any non-Christians straggle through, post obnoxious, hardcore statements about your faith, smirk, and wait to reel them in. A few will have to take the bait and comment. Then smack them across the screen with your well-timed retort. Put them in their spiritually and intellectually inferior place as sharply as possible and your global network of Christian friends will adore you. You proved us right by mercilessly obliterating a hapless unbeliever who passed through the wake of your newsfeed. Forget Thomas Aquinas and Teresa of Avila — you are a real champion of the faith, hovering over the trophy carcasses of non-Christians you’ve defeated in a last Facebook stand.
9. Protest liberal companies.
Yep, Starbucks supports non-traditional marriage. Little Caesar’s donates to Planned Parenthood. But I like grande peppermint mochas. And Little Caesar’s, um, well… nevermind. Rather than risk offending half your Christian friends (your primary target market) by patronizing, really, any company in America save Chik-fil-A, grow your own food and sew your own clothes. Or buy Bible tees at the Family Christian Stores and eat spicy chicken sandwiches. You’ll just have to fast Sundays.
10. Glare at people who swear.
This is my personal favorite and possibly the most important Christian tip on the list. Nothing is better guaranteed to keep pesky unbelievers away from your church and win influence with friends than glaring when non-Christians let an F-bomb slip by the coffee maker. I know people who’ve never returned to church because of the looks they received for an accidental uncouth tongue slippage. Which is great. They can’t screw up the place when they can’t bring themselves to turn in to the parking lot. And your friends will notice you didn’t stand there and just take it. You really did something.
So, there you go. Forget reading your Bible. Don’t bother listening to sermons or worshiping. Those take too long to develop faith. Follow these ten easy steps and you’ll springboard right to the mature Christian status you’ve always dreamed of.