What do you think of when you hear the word "Christian"? Do you think of a follower of Christ? Someone who loves everyone, who is self-sacrificing and non-judgmental. Or do you think of a bigot? A hypocrite who preaches a morality that he doesn't follow. Sadly, I think for most non-Christians the later is more common, and guess what Christians, its our fault.
Talk about an epic fail! How is it that followers of a God, who is so loving and so merciful that he gave his one and only son to die a horrible death on a cross so that anybody and everybody who accepts his son can have his free gift of salvation and forgiveness from their sins, how is it followers of a God like that can be associated with the word "hate"? That boggles my mind folks. Like I said, the problem is us. Ghandi once said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." That's an indictment if I've ever seen one.
What's happened to Christianity that we've messed up so badly? Well we had a speaker on campus tonight who talked about this subject, which is how it got on my mind in the first place, and I'm going to offer to you a couple of suggestions he made and what we can do about it. The speaker's name was John Fischer for those of you who are interested.
If you mention homosexuality in a group of evangelical Christians you can bet your bottom dollar that one of them will say "Well you know, hate the sin and love the sinner". While there is nothing wrong with that phrase and we should hate sin and love sinners, we, as Christians, are often way better at hating the sin than we are at loving the sinner. Have a little fun the next time you are in that situation and ask whoever says "hate the sin and love the sinner" the following: "Oh that's great! How many gay friends do you have? Have you ever had any of them over for dinner? Witnessed to them?"
How often do Christians panic over the sin of homosexuality and yet we never witness to the gay community? How are we supposed to be the light of the world if we're constantly seen as the people who want to keep gays out everything? Christian, remember this: Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He ate with prostitutes, tax collectors and the worst sinners he could find, because those were the people who needed him the most! How dare we, who are every bit as much a sinner as they are, not love them like that!
That's one example but it gets the idea across. Reason number one that Christians have earned a bad rapt, we're too good at hating the sin and not good enough at loving the sinner. We should be reaching out to this world with arms wide open and a smile on our faces. We should be calling out to our fellow human beings in a loud voice crying "Its okay, I know your hurt. I was hurt once too, but I met a man who healed me. Let me introduce you to him!"
Reason number two: politics. Guess what Christian, you don't have to be a republican to get saved! Shocking, I know. You can be a Christian and be liberal, you can even be a good Christian and be democratic. Both parties support things that the Christian can get behind, and both parties support things that the Christian can't. So what do we do? We pick one side and instantly alienate half the country so that now there are people who hate Christians for reasons that have nothing to do with Jesus or the Gospel. Go us!
I'm not saying that Christians shouldn't be involved in politics. I think we should be. The problem is we're guilty of idolatry. We've made political power our idol, thinking that somehow we can legislate this country into a Christian nation again. Look at the things Christians get riled up over. Prayer in schools? Ten commandment displays in the courts? Guys, even if we won those battles, does it really matter? We've become the self-appointed "last line of defense" that God never needed and never wanted. Do you think there were any ten commandment displays in the courts of Rome? Yet when Christians were being thrown to the lions Christianity flourished. I'm just as guilty of this as most other Christians. Even abortion, while I believe it is murder, Christians, look to your churches first! Did you know that women identifying themselves as "born again Christians" obtain 20%* of abortions in the US? So how can we seek to ban abortion when we're the ones getting a fifth of them!
"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye." - Luke 6:41-42 ESV
Hypocrite indeed. The church has become the ultimate of hypocrites.
Reason number three: We preach morality instead of the gospel. The church I grew up in is guilty of this. I remember sitting through a Wednesday night youth group service where our music director gave a message about why music with emphasis on beats two and four was evil. On a Wednesday night, when there were lots of young people who would never set foot in a church on a Sunday, young people who desperately needed to hear the gospel message, he told them not to listen to music that wasn't in the church hymnal. (aside, I later had some fun by finding all the songs in the hymnal with emphasis on beats two and four) You know what they took away from that? They learned that those Christians have a bunch of weird rules. Why would they ever want that? Where in that message was the love of Christ?
Christian, don't make the mistake of thinking people have to stop sinning before they can get saved! Jesus came to people in their sinful, broken states. He met them where they were. Look at the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus didn't tell her, "Go, marry the man you live with so you will stop sinning then come to me and I will give you living water." He offered it to her right then and there, no ifs, ands, or buts. We need to be more welcoming of people, we need to love people like Jesus did. What we don't need is to hit them over the head with a bible and tell them to clean up. We need to be a merciful and forgiving people. Enough with this "Moral Majority" nonsense. I'd rather be a part of the "merciful minority."
There is a lot more I can say on this issue. The church is far off from what it should be, but I've said enough. I'm not perfect, and I've made all these mistakes at one point or another, so that's why I'm being so harsh. Its painful to point out the mistakes in your own house. Its even more painful when you realize that there are people who, having seen how Christians live, thought to themselves "why would I want what they have?" and then have died and gone to hell because they didn't accept God's free gift of salvation. Think about that. Think about how serious this is. The salvation of other people's eternal souls rests upon how well you and I represent our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Its amazing how you can write something and it just brings you to tears, because you've just convicted yourself. Christian, I plead with you. We have to be a force for change inside the church, we can't keep dragging our Savior's name through the mud any longer.
Perhaps you've read all this and you don't know Christ as your Lord and savior. Please get in touch with me, either through a comment on this post or through a message on facebook, I'll do my best to show you what the love of Christ is all about, and if I can't help you I'll get you in touch with someone who can. If you have questions about any of this don't wait, just ask.
*I can't verify the accuracy of these stats, but regardless that number is way too high: http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html