Recently, I have been struggling with feeling very discouraged about all the trending topics in social media and the news. I see posts and comments daily criticizing Christians for our faith. We are frequently villainized and our opinions are discounted simply because we claim to follow Christ. We are, rather ironically, called bigots by those who refuse to make an effort to understand our point of view. We are ridiculed, stereotyped, and called ignorant for our beliefs. We are accused of being hypocrites by people with a limited understanding of God’s word- even people who have convinced themselves they are experts on the topic.
The part of all of this that really makes me feel a bit sick is that there is an element of truth to all of that. The body of believers has not been presenting as a unified front. Much damage has already been done to our witness. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ sincerely understand what all that entails. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ live a life striving to be like Christ, as we’re commissioned to live.
All through school, I followed the rules and continually made an effort to please my teachers and personal sense of accomplishment by living up to set expectations as best I could. I know. I’m a nerd. I can’t help it. It’s my personality (and actually, I’m quite content being a nerd). I can think of many times in school and beyond, when a few other people made irresponsible decisions and lost privileges for the group as a whole. I always had trouble understanding how some people could act like they just don’t care how they represent others, or about how the consequences of their actions may affect more than only themselves.
Considering this thought from a more experienced point of view- maybe for some, it’s just that they don’t realize their behavior makes a difference for the whole. We all come from different histories with different learning experiences and different personalities. Most of us don’t even realize the impact we can have on those around us- but we all have one.
There are many different spiritual maturity levels among individuals claiming to belong to the Church. Some accepted Christ but never made an effort to mature, and some spent time in the world and with spiritual leadership but then made choices to live how they want to live. Still others strive daily to live a life pleasing to God. But as in many situations in life, a few people can ruin a good thing for the group. A portion of the group can destroy the reputation of the rest.
In our situation now, it seems like there are few Christians who truly live as Christ-models. Sure, we get the basics, but tend to justify things that shouldn’t be justified while looking over things that should be given attention.
So, now to what seems to me to be the biggest mistake made by Christians today:
We are not fulfilling the Great Commission.
The body as a whole has not been a living example of who God is. We’re not showing people what God’s love is about.
By recent history, the church overall has seemed to look the other way when faced with many sinful situations, even within the church itself. We’ve been so concerned with wanting to not offend others, to not make situations uncomfortable, to not lose church members, to not lose tithes, or to not be called out for our own poor decisions, that we hesitate. When we hesitate, we often decide to not respond at all.
Scripture tells us that if a fellow Christian is making sinful decisions and we know, we are to go to them and lovingly discuss the issue with them. If they do not listen, we are to take one or two from the church to discuss it again. Does that ever happen? Or do we look the other way so we don’t have anyone do the same to us?
Let’s face it. We are human. We are individuals who, by design, only see from our own perspectives. If we are striving for wisdom, we will make a strong effort to understand the experiences of others, but it does take effort. It doesn’t always come easily.
Because we are human, mistakes are easy to make. Maybe that’s why the Hebrews were instructed to not stop meeting together with other believers. Maybe that’s why Solomon wrote about the benefits and combined strength of like-minded friends in Christ.
Where is it?
We’ve become so timid about approaching fellow Christians about sinful, selfish behaviors that when we DO take a stand on a specific issue, we look like hypocrites.
Notice how that is in bold AND italics?
Perhaps this has something to do with the “don’t judge me or you’re a hypocrite!” mentality that seems to be floating around these days. Side note – is it REALLY judging if God has already proclaimed the judgment in advance? Anyway. That’s another topic…
But, what happened? I’ve heard before that if a frog is dropped into a pot before the water is heated to a boil, it will die before jumping out because the change is so gradual, it doesn’t recognize the threat until it is too late (ok, I don’t know that it is true, and I wouldn’t encourage trying it, but I intend it simply as an analogy).
Have we as a whole really been so comfortable in the water that we don’t snap out of it until something we find shocking happens?
Christians. Seriously. Are we handling “current” sins wisely? Lovingly? It’s easy to become defensive and not present ourselves in a very Christ-like way (especially from behind a keyboard).
We have been called to show others God’s love. Are we picking and choosing which sins to protest? Why are we not holding one another accountable? If we love one another, we need to do that. We need to lift each other up in prayer and offer encouragement. Is that happening as often as it is needed?
Pro 27:6 KJV Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
If we don’t love others and build a mutually respectful relationship with them, what on this earth makes us think they are going to suddenly repent or even try to see our point of view? If we are viewed as the hypocritical enemy, why would they want to listen?
We are not the enemy and we can’t act like we are. I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I am pleading for Christians to evaluate where we now stand from a different point of view. I have very intentionally left out the naming of any specific sins in the post. Sin is sin. Simply put, sin is choosing to do what we want over what God asks of us. Sin is being selfish.
So. Speaking to any Christians reading this, please allow me to be an accountability partner for you today.
Are you choosing what God asks of you over what YOU want? Or are you indulging in something God has guided you to leave behind you?
Be careful about where you put your energy. Stand firm in what Scripture says, but do it in Christ-like love, and in all things- not only the ones most uncomfortable for you. After all, the frog was comfortable too.