The Jubilee movement wasn’t a bless-me club; it wasn’t a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get on the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards and follow their convictions with actions. Making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.
~Bono, ON THE MOVE
It is sobering, though not surprising, to read how un-liked Christians are how even more un-liked are those who call themselves “evangelical” or “born again” Christians. I see it everyday on Facebook. Close friends and family of mine, so angry and those who call themselves Christians. The hate that seems to come from so many posts. Until I realize, that the hate is not one-sided. It should be, for sure, but it’s not. I see the articles quoted, some of the politicians statements or even pastor’s quotes and sit there with my mouth open. The hate is not just on one side.
Where ever ever ever in the Bible, which as Believers is our guide, did we see Jesus spew forth hate on a person or a people? Sure he told the woman caught (set-up) in an adulterous affair, “Go and sin no more.” This was after he stopped the crowd from stoning her to death, this was after he told her that he was not judging her (John 8:1-11).Yeah, he did tell her that obviously her actions were wrong and not to do it anymore. But it wasn’t a message of hate.
Sure, he turned over some tables, he was pissed. He even had a whip and I am quite sure though it doesn’t specifically state it, that he caught a few people with it, in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). In the holiest of holies where his own Father was to be worshipped, where people had turned this holy place into a scam, robbing people and taking advantage of those who wanted to come worship, to ask for forgiveness. He hated the actions. Not the people.
Rich made it pretty clear through the various forms of research that it is the actions, the “don’t” of Christians today that turn the world away from us and even more disheartening – away from the message, from the Good News. We are turning people away from the very thing they need, the Good, the Best thing they (we all) need.
Perception is reality.
I would find myself thinking, “No! Not right!” But as Rich so rightly stated, perception is indeed reality. And the reality is that those outside of the church think of these words when describing our faith:
- Antihomosexual (91%)
- Judgmental (87%)
- Hypocritical (85%)
- Old-fashioned (78%)
- Too involved in politics (75%)
- Out of touch with reality (72%)
- And more
I can’t blame them based on the 2007 study that Rich quoted in this chapter which basically found that statistically and practically when you looked at the actions of those who claimed to be believers and those who claimed not to be, there is no difference. This study looked at actions (admitted actions) such as: looking at on-line pornography, physically fight or abuse someone, used an illegal/non-prescription drug, sad something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something they did, having an intimate sexual encounter with someone outside of marriage…
It is our actions that define who we are and what we stand for, not our words.
I was thinking about my Grandad this morning. He’s been gone for over three years but still a daily thought for me. He was a pastor for forty years. One thing he was known for – asking people to come to church. Another thing he was known for – loving on people in real and tangible ways. The same guys who turned down his invitation for Sunday church in the coffee shop every Saturday morning were the same guys he was having breakfast with in that same coffee shop. He was buying their coffee, laughing and joking and getting turned down! (Little did they know that he had already written in his plans for the funeral that those gentlemen were to be his pallbearers so that one day he would indeed get them to church to hear the gospel… and you know, every single one of them were there, carrying his casket, sitting in church, with tears that their friend was gone). He was at basketball, football, volleyball, baseball, soccer, track events cheering on the youth long long after his own children and grandchildren had graduated and left. He at the age of 76 with his heart working at 8% went out in the winter cold to visit a house he had been invited to and found himself kicked out by another family member. He wound up with pneumonia. He was okay with it because he responded to an invitation to come talk, to listen, to just be there for someone.
I was at a small dinner party with Ken Blanchard this past week and he ended up the evening by talking about Jesus and the example he is for our lives because,
After all, the world loves Jesus. It’s the Christians they hate.
So true. I can’t change the view of Christians, but I can change the view of my friends toward me. I can control what I can control and that is my actions, my words, the love I show for those without having a checklist to make sure they are worthy.
These are the examples I have been blessed to grow up seeing and still surround myself with today. Our label may not be popular anymore, but it’s not a hopeless cause, it begins with me.