For a large portion of my life, being a Christian had little to do with Jesus and everything to do with lifestyle. How Jesus changed your life was based on your outward appearance; what you did or didn't do after you "got saved." Ten years ago, I would have taken one look at Brian and instantly called his bluff. I used to say things like, "People should be able to just look at you and know that you're a Christian. Continuing to play in a secular rock band? Covered in tattoos? Please. Surely a Devil worshipper." While some of you may think there's some weight to that argument, I think we drastically miss the point when we decide how to measure a person's relationship with Jesus. We miss the point of grace.
Non-believers are often quick to tell you that they don't believe in Jesus because Christians are hypocrites.
They're right. We absolutely are hypocrites. We preach grace and love and acceptance and then, not only do we not deliver that to those who believe and think differently than we do, but we eat our own kind. We put Jesus in a box and we completely miss the point of why He died for us.
Christians aren't perfect. We make poor choices, we hurt people, we fail miserably. Why? Because we're no better than anybody else. Regardless of how we choose to live out our faith in the end, we're still sinners in desperate need of a Savior.
The only difference between believers in Jesus and non-believers should be grace. I say "should be" because Christians suck at showing grace. We really do. We know the grace and mercy that comes from Christ, but our first reaction toward differences and mistakes is often ridicule and hate.
Maybe you have a past. Maybe Jesus brought you out of something drastic and you've found that immeasurable grace only He can provide. That's awesome!
Just don't forget that He loved you just as much in your past. His love was there and free to you then even if you didn't accept it. When you meet someone like Bruce Jenner, Rachel Dolezal, or even Josh Duggar or Tullian Tchividian - anybody with a different viewpoint or who lives a different lifestyle, anybody with baggage or mistakes - don't forget to love them like Jesus loves you. Don't forget your own baggage and your own mistakes.
Don't ever, ever, ever forget GRACE.