I’ve been following Jesus Christ for quite some time now, and unfortunately, not only have I witnessed first hand much of what I’m about to share with you, but I’ve sadly displayed a lot of this in my own life. I would love to see the Church rise up from the junk that we have allowed to define us and start representing Christ well. You too? Good, I knew I wasn’t alone.
Most of my life I’ve spent in what I will call the “Christian bubble”…born and raised in church (and not just Sunday morning church, y’all), Christian school education K-12, Bible college, and vocational Christian ministry up until this point in my life. I’ve done the church camps, the Vacation Bible Schools, the WWJD, the “honk if you love Jesus” slogans, and somehow I managed to fall in love with Jesus Christ and avoid becoming a cynic. I want to share with you all today what most people think when they hear the word “Christian.” There is a negative connotation that goes along with that title, but it is one that I believe we can reverse. Genuine faith produces fruit, and that fruit is the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) that this world desperately needs to see from those of us that would claim Christ as Lord and Savior.
So, here you go – my not so exhaustive list of the “not so flattering” things that Christians are known for:
#1 – Christians are cheap. Can you guess which day is one of the busiest days for eating out? Sundays. In particular, Sunday afternoons. Church-goers are flooding restaurants around the globe after Sunday morning worship, and most servers will tell you that Sunday mornings are their least favorite day to work. Why? Because tips are so much less. My brother has a second job delivering pizza in the Chicagoland area. He ended up needing to work on New Year’s Eve a few weeks ago, and anyone who was near the mid-west knew about the blizzard that hit. Business was busy that night, and the roads were terrible. He worked all day and most of the night, and came across a rather large order, which gave him hopes of a decent tip. He delivered the pizzas with a smile, and instead of a tip, he was handed a Christian track, which I assume detailed for him how to be more like Jesus. Interesting, because I can’t imagine that this is something that Jesus would actually do. Church, if we are to be like Christ, one of His most defining attributes is His generosity. If you can’t afford to tip well and generously, don’t eat out. This is our witness that goes straight down the drain. I don’t care if your server got your order wrong. I don’t care if the food was below your expectations. Serving is one the most difficult jobs out there. Show Christ through your generosity.
#2 – Christians are judgmental. Now, before I rant on this one, I must preface this by saying that as Christ followers, God would never desire us to lack judgment. That is how convictions are formed, by making healthy and godly judgments based on God’s Word. This is not, however, the type of judgment that I believe the world is seeing. To stand on a street corner shouting through a megaphone that “God hates fags” is as much like Jesus as a vegan who eats meat. One of our greatest aims in this life should be to figure out HOW we can love the lost to the feet of Jesus, not condemn them there. Sin is sin, and God is just. We don’t need to worry about that. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
#3 – Christians don’t really know what they believe. I have met some devout Muslims in my life. I’ve also met some devout atheists, Mormons, Catholics, Christians, etc. At the very least, I would assume that, in order to consider yourself devout, you would be well-versed in the teachings of your faith. A reality that has deeply saddened me over the years though is the vast amount of people claiming to believe in God and tote the name “Christian” and have never read the entirety of God’s Word. How are we to be models, examples, and ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) to this world if we have no idea what God’s Word says? We must read it, friends. We must know it. We must live by it. How else is our witness valid and true? Instead, we’ve settled for trite expressions, feel good sayings, and bumper sticker theology that is about as weak as decaf coffee in the morning. We spout off things like, “God will never give you more than you can handle” (which by the way is NO WHERE to be found in Scripture) and then wonder why the world points an angry finger at God when things go terribly wrong in life. We cling to phrases like “When God closes a door, He will always open a window” as if they are our life verse, all the while not actually committing any of God’s actual Word to memory. The world thinks our faith is weak because we have all too often betrayed it to be. The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Pick it up, read it, study it, KNOW IT! And let that reshape how the world sees us!
Naturally, I could go on, but I would run out of space, and you would stop reading. The point is that you and I have some work cut out for us. Too many have painted a poor picture of who Jesus was, but the good news is that His Word is clearer than glass on who He is and who we are to be in light of that. Let’s step it up. Let’s BE Jesus in this lost, broken, and searching world. We must!
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” – Brennan Manning