One of my coworkers asked me today if I've been Orthodox all my life. I told her that I converted a few years ago. She promplty asked, "Were you Christian before?"
I said, "Yes, I was a Baptist."
She replied, "Oh you were a Baptist. That's not a Christian." At that point I smiled quizzically and started to turn my attention to other things but then another coworker jumped into the budding conversation.
He said, "Of course that's Christian." So she quickly explained to him that it wasn't and that saying you're Baptist and a Christian is like saying you're pentecostal and saying you're a Christian (the bizarre part of that is that her own church webpage says it's a pentecostal church). He said, "Oh, it doesn't matter. As long as you believe in God you're good in my book. Yup, just worship God."
She said, "No! Worship Jesus!" He looked at her as though she were crazy and said, "Well, Jesus is God."
"No he isn't!" she insisted. "God is God because he's the Father and then there's Jesus. He's not God. I'm _______ and we believe in Jesus! Jehovah's Witness's worship God because "Jehovah" means God but we worship Jesus not God!"
I sat in my seat completely at a loss for words. I mean, where do you begin? Finally, she turned to me and demanded, "Well!" I tried to act innocent as though I hadn't heard the conversation but she persisted and so all I could muster was, "Well, Emmanuel does mean 'God with us.'" Then I asked her, "Does your church believe that Jesus is God incarnate?" (I know full well that it does.) I'm fairly certain she didn't know what the word 'incarnate' meant but she said, "Well, I don't know. But how can Jesus be God and Jesus as the same time?"
I thought to myself, "Well now that's a very mysterious question that the Church has pondered for 2000 years."
Amazingly enough the title of her church bears the phrase "God in Christ" within it. Apparently that escaped her reasoning. I was completely befuddled by her line of thinking and I reminded myself how important it is to try and understand how other people are processing things and how that influences they way they take in what they hear (of course the same is true for me, too).
The good news is that apparently in her world, as evidenced in surrounding conversation, Orthodox Christians are indeed Christians.
Of course the entire conversation began when she and some other coworkers got into an argument over the fact that I've chosen to leave sex for marriage (they think that is ridiculous and talk about it almost daily -- they used to try and argue with me but I would merely smile and remain silent so now they just discuss my oddness amongst themselves theorizing loudly about why I'm an idiot, hoping that I'll 'wise up' by osmosis or something). "It's a part of her faith" one coworker explained, "so we should just respect her for that." I happen to know that well over 95% of my coworkers belong to a Protestant Christian denomination. How strange that such a choice is merely a part of my faith.