I’ll follow on from my last post with this one by Mike Douglas. This piece gives another slant on how people who should know better tarnish the image of God for others.
Here we go again… and again and again.
Last weekend we visited with dear friends and the discussion started, sadly, like so many [too many] others I have had in my years of ministry. ‘Mike, here is why I’m never going back to church…’
The particulars are not important. But they are very familiar. Good people, who love Jesus become completely turned off church because of the actions of those who claim to be followers of Jesus but who act nothing like Him.
Our friends love Jesus but are just tired of many in the church. They love Jesus, but I worry about how many more of these incidents they will see before they reject Him too. I also worry about all of those who don’t know Jesus but are getting their image of Him from His followers. As I’ve wrote many times, people are not rejecting Jesus they are rejecting us.
There is another reason why this hurts me so much. I love God the Father, God the Son and God, the Holy Spirit. I love Him with all my heart. He loves me with an unconditional, sacrificial love. He is beautiful to me. He has done great things for me. He thinks I’m amazing!
But now I must endure those who He has done so much for as well routinely and repeatedly hurting His reputation and thereby keeping others away from the wonderful love I cherish. If you love someone, I am sure you can relate to the pain you would feel if that person’s reputation was attacked through no fault of their own by people who should and do know better.
They would not get away with it if they were attacking my wife and I can’t let them get away with it when they attack my Father.
IT HAS TO STOP!
If modern culture were a hockey game, Christianity wouldn’t quite have lost the game yet, but the clock is running down, we are way behind on points and we keep shooting on our own net. For those of you not from Canada, insert your own sports metaphor. Tackling your own quarterback. You get the idea.
It’s no secret that people are leaving the Church, and although they are not all rejecting Jesus, they are surely saying no to the faith that bears His name. And many will never know Jesus and His Father’s love for them for the same reasons. It breaks my heart.
I spend a great deal of my time listening to many of these folks, and they educate me. Based on what I’ve learned, here are some ways Christians are hurting God’s reputation and hurting people:
1. Hating Non-Christians
In response to a dying church, many Christians respond with attack language and war rhetoric against those deemed outsiders (those who don’t fit within a narrow framework of appearance, conduct and belief).
This anger is something people see a mile away and are rejecting. Who would want to be part of that? Who would want to be attacked like that? Quit hurting and speaking poorly of my Father!
People want and deserve a Christianity that is known for love and kindness, not violence. One that reflects Jesus. Now, that’s attractive.
2. Making Jesus a Conservative Politician
Nothing has hurt the church more nor the reputation of my Father more than Christianity wanting to become a political lobby group and force their nation to follow their narrow, restrictive idea of what is right. NOTHING.
People rightly want a Jesus that can’t fit comfortably within any political platform or voting block. I have written about this often so won’t elaborate here.
If God is as be as big as we say He is, He must transcend political systems in the minds of His followers. Again, Jesus didn’t come to take sides, He came to take over. The answers to what is wrong in our society are not found by looking to Ottawa, Washington or London. They are found by looking up.
3. Defending Our Bad Actions While Destroying Others for Theirs
Time and again it is revealed that not only are those Christians who crusade most vocally on “morality issues” often the most broken, but that we are lousy about accepting responsibility when we fail—especially when we do so sexually.
In response to revealed indiscretions, we invariably see disgraced followers of Jesus blaming everything from pornography to the media to immodest dress to the Devil himself, instead of simply admitting that we too are messes, and we fail too.
One sentence could change so much but we so often refuse to use it: ‘It’s my fault, and I’m sorry.’
4. Misusing the Bible
When it comes to the amount of damage Christians have done in the world, the Bible is sadly the deadliest weapon of choice. We use it to justify wars and gun violence and to perpetuate injustice and attack those we disagree with.
We’ve ripped it from context, used it for our own political agendas, selectively enforced it and brutally bashed people over the head with it—and people have grown weary of it.
We must stop using the Bible like a hammer, unless it is to build something useful.
How have we gotten so far away from a Book that is all about the love God has for people such that He would sacrifice His own Son to be reunited with us? And use it to keep people away from Him.
Church is Broken
Sadly, must Christians don’t even want to admit this. But, unless we fix it, people are going to keep saying No.
But take heart. They are a growing number of Followers of Jesus who can no longer stand by and see the reputation of the One they love damaged by people who should know better. I’m part of that group. I believe there is a huge shakeup coming. And I can’t wait.
You don’t have to agree with me, but these views are held by many who have grown weary of a church that has lost its way. I still believe when someone encounters Jesus that he or she is changed forever, yet, that is not who they are encountering when they walk through church doors.
Jesus himself is a model of love, acceptance, forgiveness, peace and hope.May we look in the mirror and get rid of any arrogance and pride and fear that keeps us from allowing ourselves to be changed, until the true image of Jesus is revealed in us.