The other day I was browsing Facebook and stumbled upon a heated exchange between two men. It seemed to be a debate about baptism, but I really couldn’t tell between all the insults, scripture quoting and mudslinging. The argument actually started off as an agreement, then ended with one man calling the other a demon possessed, false-doctrine spreading heretic. It was one of the most brutal verbal attacks I’ve ever read.
Did I mention these two men were “Christians”?
My pastor (and his pastor) often ask the question, “If we’re Christians, the people that have received the love of Christ and gotten a new lease on life, why are we the ones always walking around mad and frowning?”
Good question. Why are Christians so mean? Why are we so depressed? Why are we so judgmental? I don’t know the answer to those questions. Maybe it comes from comparing ourselves to others, then coming up short and bringing everyone else down to make ourselves feel better. Maybe it stems from a Pharisee-like pride, looking down at everyone else but never taking the time to get real with ourselves. Maybe it comes from becoming too comfortable and forgetting where we came from.
How is it so easy for us to point out another person’s sin, but not our own? OH, SHE’S A FILTHY PROSTITUTE! Yeah, I’m pretty sure she knows her occupation. I’m also pretty sure she’s not happy with what she does. But does she really need you to point it out? Does she really need you to judge and condemn her? Wouldn’t it be better for you, a person who holds the light of the Gospel, to offer her a better way to live? To share a bit of the truth that set YOU free from whatever sin YOU used to be involved in?
BUT HE’S AN ADULTERER! WE MUST CALL OUT SIN! Oh, really? Jesus gave you personal instructions to embarrass this man and his family by gossiping about them all over town, church, and the internet? I think not.
WELL HOW ABOUT HER SHORT SKIRT IN CHURCH?! SURELY THAT IS WORTH POINTING OUT TO HER! But she’s in church, isn’t she? Why isn’t that good enough? Perhaps that’s the only thing she had to wear. Or maybe she has low self-esteem and dresses that way to gain attention. Maybe she’s simply proud of her body and feels comfortable dressing that way. Either way, why do you feel the need to embarrass her by speaking to her about something that is none of your business to start with?
You never saw Jesus condemn anyone in the Bible…. except the religious people.
Now, I’m not saying it’s okay to go buck wild, wandering all around sinning and running a muck. I’m not saying “do what feels good, Jesus doesn’t care LOL!”
What I am saying is that Christians have forgotten about grace. We’ve either become extremely lackadaisical, watering down the Gospel just to stay relevant, or we’ve become so cold that we are freezing out the very people that God has called us to help.
The thing is, grace doesn’t provide a license to sin, it provides a way out of sin. Grace provides motivation to live a holy lifestyle. That’s something that the hemline police and the finger-pointing, church-going, bible-reading, long-praying, Facebook-arguing “Christians” of the world cannot do.
Hear this: your condemnation will NEVER produce holiness in your life or anyone else’s.
We are so quick to “witness” to someone who looks clean cut, friendly and is already wearing a cross, but so stand offish, callous and cold to anyone else.
I am a youth minister and am very active in my church. But more importantly, I just love Jesus and want Him to be pleased with my life. When I worked in retail, I constantly had judgmental Christians “Witnessing” to me. They’d preach sermons in my check-out line, expound to me the scriptures and how he needed to be first in my life…never even giving me a chance to tell them he already is. And when I would finally have a moment to tell them I’m already “saved”, they would look at me, questioning me with their eyes, and finish with something like “are you sure?”
I get it guys. We want to win the whole world over for Jesus. But we’re not gonna do it like that. We’re not going to win people to Jesus by making him seem like a grumpy old man who hates everything and everyone. Don’t you realize that you might be the only Jesus someone sees today? You could be the only representation of God’s love and grace someone sees in their entire life. Do you really want that to occur on the day you decide to act like a jerk?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-2,
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Wait..what? You mean if I call some girl in a short skirt a slut, God sees slut written all over me? You mean if I say that someone is stupid or going to hell, God is obligated to see hell written all over me? And with the same ferocity I attack someone, that level of judgement is intended for me?
Exactly. That’s why Christ is the righteous judge, not you. Not me. Not we.
Think about every single thing you’ve ever said about another person. Think about every time you’ve given an unintentional dirty look to a person you know who has a problem with a specific sin. Think about every time you pulled away from a person who smelled bad, or every time you ignored a shady looking person who said hello.
Do you want to receive that same type of treatment from God? I know I sure don’t. Would you want God to call you the same names you’ve called others? Would you want to make it to the pearly gates and hear your heavenly father say, “well, ya know, Karen, I’d love to let you in, but I just don’t trust people with your skin color, so I’ll pass.”
Words matter. People matter.
Now, if you see something sinful, like homosexuality, drug dealing or stealing, you don’t have to go along with it. In fact, the apostle Paul sternly warned believers to stay away from other believers who engaged in sinful behavior. But he never said to condemn them.
The bottom line is, it’s not your job to be God’s policeman. It’s your job to LOVE people. Period.
Romans 2:4 (NLT) says this:
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Did you just read that? God’s KINDNESS turns us from sin. Not condemnation. Not a long list of wrongs replayed and recounted for us over and over. Not mean looks and sideways glances. Not impassioned, well-crafted speeches. Not carefully place shared facebook or instagram posts about salvation. Not scare tactics.
A smile. A wave. A simple, “God bless you.” A Christmas gift for someone you really don’t know that well. An invitation to lunch. A long phone call. Listening when someone speaks. Helping someone pick something up when they’ve dropped it. A compliment. A heartfelt and sincere, “I’m sorry.” A prayer without advertisement. An invitation to church without shame. Picking up the tab without expecting reimbursement. A handkerchief or tissue. A shoulder to cry on.
We are God’s people. We bear his name and we carry this treasure of the Gospel, this light inside of us. Yet we are constantly doling out condemnation instead of hope, dread instead of joy, fear instead of love.
The more I see as I take my journey into ministry is the amount of meanness being expressed by some Christians. We argue every chance we get, we’re afraid of change and rebel against authority, we’re critical and way too used to getting things our own way. We’ve become numb to God’s grace because we’ve been spoiled by it, so when it comes time to give it out, we offer nothing but hate instead.
“Christian” and “mean” should never be in the same sentence. Remember the grace that it took to save you out of the mess you were once in, and use that same grace to lift someone else out of the mess they are in.
Remember that your life is only worth as much as the person you’re condemning.
I don’t want to be a mean Christian. I don’t want to pass judgement on strangers and have critical thoughts about everyone and everything I see, read and experience. I don’t want to pass dirty looks out instead of smiles. I don’t want to make anyone feel like they’re worthless. I don’t want to embarrass anyone. I don’t want to assume things about someone based on their appearance. I don’t want to ignore someone when they say hello simply because I’m “afraid” of them. I don’t want to ignore someone in need just because they don’t look like me. I don’t ever want to feel like I’m better than someone else. And I don’t ever want to be mean.