So, I’m on Facebook like every other living soul in America (except those who still listen to eight-track tapes and call it “The Facebooks”). I have friends from grade school to grad school, work, church, family, etc. They span different countries, states, world views, political alignments and sexual orientation; each like their steak done a little differently. In this cultural milieu it is interesting to me as a Christian and a pastor to hear people’s perspectives on who Christians are and what Christianity is all about. But I have to admit, most of the comments I see aren’t positive. One example of a friend’s Facebook status: “The only thing worse than riding a crowded city bus is having to do so sitting next to a Christian.” Or this one: “Does ‘Christian’ come from the Latin word for ‘fake’?” And one more: “I thought that Christianity is about peace. Then why do I feel like punching Christians in the mouth sometimes?” It seems that Christians have an image problem. Is it deserved? Yep, sometimes it is. There are some Christians I wouldn’t mind punching in the mouth myself. Some of us can be pretty dang annoying on top of being hypocritical. Others have been hurt by the church in terrible ways when Christianity is used to justify violence, hatred, bigotry, abuse and theft. However, just as it is unacceptable to draw conclusions about an entire race based on the actions of a few, we shouldn’t make sweeping generalizations about Christians either. I am tired of getting painted with a brush that has been dipped in someone else’s paint. While the poor image is often deserved, other times it’s a rehash of someone else’s words; the speaker is simply regurgitating someone else’s thoughts without thinking it through themselves. Don’t allow others to think for you, it doesn’t make you intelligent or cutting edge, it just makes people roll their eyes. I also think some people speak out of ignorance, and I don’t mean that as a putdown. They reach conclusions based on a false view of Christianity. They truly don’t know who and what a Christian is supposed to be. And here’s where I think a mature conversation might make a real difference. Wherever you are, I want to hear from you, Christians and non-Christians. Give me the definition of a Christian and your point of view, just follow a few rules. Don’t gush or rant. Give me concrete examples. Tell me your experiences. Ask questions if you’d like. Give me a feel for what is in your head and heart. I promise to listen and hear. We have something to learn from each other, let’s get started. The Rev. Dan Alger is pastor of The Church of the Apostles in Gray’s Creek. Start a conversation with him on his new blog at www.CityViewNC.com.