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Are you meeting this awful Christian stereotype?
Sometimes Christians get a bad rap -- but there are certain things we can do to make sure we don't live up to it. - photo by Kayla Lemmon
Stop judging me.

We hear it all the time as Christians; and some of the time, it's completely unwarranted. We live in a world where "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die!" is the motto, and if you disagree with the way in which someone lives, that means you're a bigot. Or that you're just judgmental.

And although that statement is so sweeping when it refers to Christians -- even though most of us are genuinely just trying to do what is right in a world that is increasingly doing the opposite -- we aren't living our religion if we ever find ourselves fitting the stereotype. And sometimes, it can be easy to fall into that category without even realizing it. It can be easy to find ourselves genuinely judging someone who leads a different kind of lifestyle, and to become bitter at those who tend to judge us in return.

Here are five things to remember to keep you from being that kind of "Christian."

Make friends with those who are different from you

There's no way you can be a well-rounded person without having the company of those who think differently than you do. Having friends, co-workers and neighbors who live different types of lifestyles and who go to different churches is essential toward molding you into a more accepting, loving and Christ-like person. In return, those who love you and consider you a friend will honor your beliefs and lifestyle as well.

Stand up for your beliefs -- and for the beliefs of others

Be willing to defend your beliefs and to talk about them openly! But by all means, defend others' as well. If you want to be given respect and acceptance, then give that to those who are different from you as well. The best way to beat down the stereotype that Christians are judgmental is to defend the right to think differently as well.

Sometimes being kind is far more important than being right

We often get way too caught up in being right and getting involved in "Bible wars" on comment threads on social media or on political posts. Although it is necessary to defend your faith, there are so many situations where it's far more effective to be kind and to care more about the person you're talking to than what you're talking to them about.

Read about and immerse yourself in other cultures

Learn and explore other cultures; travel; watch documentaries about different groups of people from all over the world. Stay current on what's going on in Syria and the Middle East and the war on religion in your very own country. The more educated you are about humanity, the more you'll find yourself with a wider capacity to love.

Seek understanding

Those who judge you for your belief systems are judging you for the same reasons that you may unintentionally judge them: misunderstanding. Understanding how someone thinks and why they think that way is the basic foundation for loving someone the way that Christ would, despite your predispositions or opinions on the matter. Understanding is the thing we lack most in today's world, and that's why there is so much contention between religions and cultures.

There are so many stereotypes regarding Christianity, and being judgmental isn't a fun one to fit into. Try instead to live a life where you fit into the positive stereotype instead -- the one of being kind, honest, loyal and unconditionally accepting of all God's children.
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