CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Why are Christians so mean?
By Tim White
I have asked this question many times, prayed often about it, and have done much research into it. I have even been told by waitresses and waiters that Christians are the meanest people they deal with. Although the answers may be as unique as each individual Christian, let me share with you some of the general principles and patterns that have risen to the top of this issue.
First, for many of us in the United States, we live in a society that has been greatly affected by Christian freedoms. For many, persecution has been replaced with shame-filled tolerance. We do not have to fight for our worship and meetings, so we take them for granted. Something inside of us goes to sleep and the Christian life is less of an effort (at least that is how it feels).
When we do not have to fight for our lives and practices as Christians, we tend to compromise and make those compromises into a "new Christian standard." We Christianize our lives, and that tends to cause us to live daily without dependence upon God. It creates a drift from dependence and the result is Christians "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power" (1 Timothy 3:5).
Another issue affecting Christians is the western world's tendency to view the emotions as reality. I had a Christian once tell me she was not going back to Church until she cleared up some issues in her life because she did not want to be a hypocrite. She felt guilty at Church and she did not want to go there to experience that.
In other words, she valued and worshipped how she felt more than the truth and commands of God in the Scriptures. When we feel angry, we then validate the anger to justify how we feel. We pray to God that if He wants us to do certain things, He has the power to change the feelings we have about those things. Therefore, if what someone does to me makes me have negative feelings, and I am a Christian, they must have wronged me. If you wronged me, you receive "the wrath of God" through me.
Truly, this is idolatry. We are commanded to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33), not the demands of our feelings.
A third major factor is that we, as Churches and church leaders, have pulled back from preaching the truth about this and have surrendered to preaching that which makes people feel good, not repentance before God. In doing that, we are simply "scratching ears":
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4We have focused on the theologies of self-discovery and selfishness (who am I and what are my gifts), not the truths of living repentant before God, placing other's interest above our own in humility, and living in dependence upon "Christ in us, the hope of glory" in every situation.
All of us are susceptible to these influences under the lullaby of this world. But this situation gives true followers of Christ a tremendous opportunity. While the vast majority of Christianity has lost the message that Christ really makes a difference in a life, we can shine brightest. We can commit to loving vicious Christians as Christ loved the vicious religious people in His day.
We can't isolate ourselves and still make a difference. We can't hide under a bushel (Matthew 5:15). We can bear the pain from cruel religious people and depend upon Christ to maintain love and loving treatment of them (Psalm 15:4).
As a pastor in a conflicted Church, I am not speaking of theories. I have had to live with what one pastor calls "holy hate" weekly. I have witnessed the cruelest, most un-Christ-like behavior towards my wife and me from members who would rather I go away. God has used this greatly in our lives to draw us near Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-11), giving us an opportunity to suffer with Christ (Romans 8:17), to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and even show love to those who despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44-45). Truly, this, too, works for the glory of God and for our benefit (Romans 8:28).
I suggest that we are to model the life to which Christ is calling us to live before Christians as well as the lost. This will not make you popular, for it will dump heaps of coal on their heads (a purifying process in which God is at work, Romans 12:20).
Image Credit: RyanMcGuire; Untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Christian-Life | Personal-Relationships | Sin-Evil
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Published on 6-18-2015