Veronica Zundel has created an intriguing way of classifying Christians, and challenges you to think about what description reflects you best
In an idle moment the other day it occurred to me that punctuation marks and mathematical signs could be an excellent way of classifying Christians (should you wish to do such a dubious thing). I think it was the plethora of inspiring quotes on Facebook that got me going.
It seemed that there are some Christians who could only be regarded as plus signs. Their lives are full of blessings, which they have no inhibitions about sharing with others – regardless of whether the others want to hear about them. To such people I can only quote Proverbs 27:14: “If anyone loudly blesses their neighbour early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” Useful verse, that.
Minus sign Christians
Then there are the minus sign Christians. To them, being a Christian is all about what you must give up and the things that are banned to followers of Jesus. Ask them what is meant by discipleship and they will say: “Christians don’t do X or Y” and “If you do or are Z, you can’t really be a Christian.”
No wonder the Christian faith is often seen by the outside world as joyless and grim. I guess the passage for them is 1 Timothy 4:3-4: “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”
Exclamation mark Christians
Exclamation mark Christians are so full of enthusiasm that as they speak of their faith they have to emphasise random words in their discourse, and especially so in preaching.
For these I can only prescribe going back to Peter: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). We’re not deaf, you know (well some of us are, but randomly shouting won’t help).
Full stop Christians
Consider now the full stop Christians. Such people arrived at all their opinions right at the beginning of their walk with God, and God forbid they should modify any of them as they mature. Worse than that, there are Christian leaders who actually regard having the same views at 50 as they had at 20 a mark of Christian maturity.
Perhaps the place to direct such a person is to the whole of the book of Proverbs, which tells us again and again that wisdom is acquired through years of life experience, not imparted all in one go with a truth injection.
Multiplication sign Christians
I’m sure you have encountered the multiplication sign Christians, who believe that the whole raison d’être of the Church is to make more Christians who will then make more Christians, effectively turning the body of Christ into a huge pyramid selling scheme.
I’ve nothing against evangelism, as we are all called to bear witness. However at the point where you find yourself evangelising those who are already Christians, but maybe not the same kind of Christian as you, you have become addicted to evangelism (and I’ve met some who are). For these, I would suggest re-reading the Sermon on the Mount, and particularly observing that the Beatitudes offer no blessing for those who are so sure they are right that they must convince everyone else of their rightness.
Division sign Christians
Then there are the division sign Christians, those who love nothing better than causing a church split, preferably over some matter Jesus never actually mentioned. The outcome is the creation of either a faithful remnant or a faithful splinter group, both believing themselves to be the one true Church.
Go to Ephesians, thou splitter, and observe how its writer calls on you to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Question mark Christians
So which are my favourite type of Christians, and which might I be? I can only go to what I call the question mark Christians, who are constantly opening their eyes to see if the fabulously clothed Emperor actually has any clothes on at all. But James has a warning for us question marks too: “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).
Look in the mirror of your soul, dear fellow Christian, and ask yourself: “Which punctuation mark or mathematical sign am I?”