Contend Earnestly: Why People Hate Christians.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why People Hate Christians.


I know this is a bit odd to put up this kind of post, especially since I am one that is a Christian, or what I would rather be known for, which is a follower of Jesus. My intent is not to merely beat up those who are my brothers and sisters, but to call them, and myself, to repentance. This post isn't exhaustive as there are many reasons historically and currently why people hate Christians. There are some solid reasons for hating us as a group, and there are some nonsense ones as well. My reason for writing this post is simply for those who call themselves Christians to contemplate what I have to say, pray on it and seek to see if there are some changes that need to take place within each of our hearts.

I believe that one of the main reasons that people hate Christians is simply found in our pride of self and lack of concern to hear other's speak. We love to hear ourselves speak, and we love to be right. We cover this with a facade of "there are absolutes and I am God's messenger." While there are absolutes, let me remind you...your knowledge isn't one. You, and I, are finite in both life span and wisdom. God is the one who is infinite in both time and wisdom. It becomes so bad that when speaking to people about honest concerns over how we show people Jesus, my own brothers and sisters would rather make "sound bytes" and "be right" than try and learn from one another and truly glorify God in our humility. Humbleness and meekness have lost it's luster in the Christian walk and have been hijacked by American pride and self promotion.

Yesterday, I put up a quote that most Christians have heard before and one that always gets a reaction. This time, instead of making any commentary on the quote, I simply put it up to see what kind of reaction I would get.

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -- Mahatma Gandhi

The reactions were mixed, but I knew I would get some of the reactions that we are known for. Instead of being torn up to see that maybe we need to follow Jesus more and love others more than ourselves, people decided to attack the beliefs of Gandhi. What Gandhi had to say about us should make us stumble, should make us a repentant people ready to show of Jesus. Instead, we point the finger back at the accuser. Poorly done friends.

The reality of the quote from Gandhi is just that...it is reality. We, those who follow Jesus, do a poor job of it. We should OWN this, not dismiss this. I, personally, fail so many times it is ridiculous and that is the very reason I should be the most humble, repentant person on this planet crying out for the perfection of Jesus, not the perfection or accusation of the one accusing me. We need to understand that "making a point" or "trying to find loopholes in an argument" or "being right" is not what is important. The important thing is that we need to show off more and more of the one who saved us and is continually saving us, which should cause humility, not boasting or pride.

I also wonder what right we feel like we have in the West to have these thoughts of pride and entitlement. I heard from a missiologist that out of everyone in the world, there are two places where the gospel is not growing among the people...

United States and Europe

Is this really a surprise with our pride and the love of self promotion? People are seeing right through it. One pastor put it like this:

“The Gospel came to the Greeks and the Greeks turned it into a philosophy. The Gospel came to the Romans and the Romans turned it into a system. The Gospel came to the Europeans and the Europeans turned it into a culture. The Gospel came to America and the Americans turned it into a business.”

Even Madonna is seeing through the facade...she is known for saying:

Christianity is becoming more of a currency than a belief

For those of us in business it is very easy to spot the marketing techniques churches use to promote their name, to promote who they are, to build up their followers. I continue to hear pastors brag about how much they are giving away, how much they are serving the community, how much their church is growing, etc. Then during their sermons, they rip other churches apart as though they were trying to put together a trashy political ad campaign.

Why don't we go ahead and promote Jesus, live like he did, be ready to listen first, and when we screw up admit it and ask for forgiveness from those around us?

When Gandhi tells us that he doesn't like Christians because we are nothing like Jesus, we should really take that in. We should contemplate ways in which we can change. We should look for ways in our lives that we are not living more like Jesus, instead of ripping someone else apart. When I read what Gandhi says, I should hear it like this:

I love your Christ, it's you I don't like, you are so unlike your Jesus

Then...I should first repent and look for ways to be more like Jesus and then point people to Him, not me.

When we speak first and don't care to hear the rest of the world, we are a prideful people who doesn't think we need learning. We are to be humble.

So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased,
The eyes of the proud also will be abased.
Isaiah 5:15

For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being, declares the Lord. But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. Isaiah 66:2

Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
Matthew 23:12

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:8

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
1 Peter 5:5

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
James 4:6

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

[The Hatred of the World]
[18] “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. [19] If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. [20] Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

[21] But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. [22] If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. [23] Whoever hates me hates my Father also. [24] If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. [25] But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
(John 15:18-25 ESV)

The world hates us for this very reason...they hate Christ. We shouldn't be surprised that people like Gandhi dislike his followers.

Do Christians perfectly represent Christ? Obviously not, but equally maybe we worry too much about what our culture thinks and do not think enough of what God thinks.

We must be bold to stand up to the sin of this world as Paul stood up to the Idols of Asia Minor. He didn't sugar coat anything nor was his completely politically correct about his delivery.

I think we have become so pussified to what this culture thinks that we have rendered ourselves very useless. Then we see the decline of the Church in America and wonder why it is...

Quite simply, we must be bold and we must do so out of love. For as the Scriptures say, If we have love we have nothing. Let's stop worrying about the persecution and rejection of man and be like Paul & the early Disciples.

After all, the church often rapidly grows in cultures which despise the message.

Seth McBee said...

Anonymous.
Do we know each other? You seem to be misreading the points of the posts...if you want to talk through this let me know and I'll hook you up with my email

peace

Seth

Jack said...

Anonymous,

I too believe you have missed the intent of Seth's post. Seth never said that we should embrace the culture, but we should listen and see if these things apply to our lives or situations.

Western "Christianity" has put itself up as the example, yet we fail miserably to live up to the true example of Christ.

No one has said that we should sugar coat anything, but Christ did not look down on anyone. He says he did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to bring salvation to it.

If every word out of our mouths is a condemnation on those who are unbelievers, how will they ever see the love of Christ.

This does not mean that we accept what they are saying, but we should not condemn them, because Christ would not have.

As followers of Christ, we are not to judge others. This is a very sticky statement, because it is used to say that we as followers should be tolerant of sin. Christ was not saying that at all, what he was saying is, that condemnation will come, but any condemnation that we put on someone, we will be judged by that standard.

I think it is very telling that folks like Gandhi would say that Christians are not like Christ. If Jesus is our example and others do not see Christ in us, what does that say about us? Perhaps he is suggesting something we should be telling all followers of Christ. If you are going to be a Follower of Christ, then you should act like a follower of Christ.

My last point is, that your quote of Scripture does not fit Seth's comments what so ever. In Gandhi's comment, I do not see persecution.

Persecution is defined but the Free Dictionary as follows:

persecution - the act of persecuting (especially on the basis of race or religion)
abuse, ill-treatment, ill-usage, maltreatment - cruel or inhumane treatment; "the child showed signs of physical abuse"
oppression, subjugation - the act of subjugating by cruelty; "the tyrant's oppression of the people"
pogrom - organized persecution of an ethnic group (especially Jews)
rendition - handing over prisoners to countries where torture is allowed
torturing, torture - the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons in an attempt to force another person to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason; "it required unnatural torturing to extract a confession"

To many times we say that criticism is persecution. We have taken the word and made it very politically correct, to say that if we receive any sort of criticism then we are being persecuted.

I would challenge anyone to say that Christ's persecutors were merely trying to criticize what he was saying. When He says that people will persecute you like they did Me, it looks more like the provided definition not what we have made it look like here in the west.

Anonymous said...

I get the authors point and in large part agree. I just think he overemphasizes the world's perspective and sums that up to why the Church is not being progressive in the culture.

Scripture paints a whole different picture as I posted earlier. We should expect any culture to dislike people who tell them they are sinners in need of God's grace, idol worshipers who need to worship the true God and adulterers to the Lord which made them. As I said this before, it has to be out of love and not elitism...but I believe this pendulum has swung a bit too much as of the last ten years.

Looking at the American Church culture, you have the seeker sensitive church which wont share the truth of the Gospel. These churches often care more about public opinion than they do speaking the truth.

Then you have these anti-seeker sensitive churches which are built off of not seeming like a church, yet are equally as sensitive to public opinion. They try to be hip (aka culturally liberal) and use terms as "Missional" as if other churches aren't because they operate in a different fashion.

The simple fact is that we should expect the culture to dislike us. To point to Jesus followers and discredit them by saying "You aren't perfect like Jesus'". Well...duh. That's the point. The beauty of Christ is that he loved the Church with all its flaws. We shouldn't expect non-believers equally to love the Church like Christ does.

I think the anti-church church crowd is not much more different than the seeker-sensitive ones in many cases. Both talk a big game, but are both useless to the people they seek to reach if they are not seeing growth to the Kingdom of Christ and a Spirit-filled congregation surface.

Seth McBee said...

Anonymous.
Again...do we know each other?

The reason I ask this is because if you really want to speak about these things, which are important, merely posting anonymous comments on my blog is an odd way to go about it.

If, on the other hand, you just want to make points and not get into real discussion on the issue, then I understand why you don't want to let me know who you are or speak about this in more depth.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I know you. I ran across your blog because I was searching for a commentary on the Book of Jude.

I think it is the beauty of cyberspace for someone like you to post a belief or point of view out there for everyone to read. Equally, you should expect people to post counter-perspectives publically without running to the "let's private email about it" card. That says to me that you feel threatened about the conversation.

Notice above, I have stayed on topic and have not gone to the classic internet character attacks and the like. I am merely posting a different perspective. If you don't want to engage in this form of dialogue, maybe it is best to make your blog private to subscribers only?

It's just part of the game. I simply think your POV is wrong in this article. I believe that we shouldn't seek to be loved by the culture, but should be bold to declare the truth of Jesus despite ridicule and whatnot. Gandhi doesn't hold any more weight to me than my neighbor down the street because we are all equally valuable to Jesus eyes. My neighbor down the street would say similiar things, yet he doesn't fully know the character and person of Jesus.

As I said before, this personal guilt trip (which is heavy on your posts in this blog) about not being the "right" type of Christians often takes away from our true Identity as Christians (despite our flaws). Should we seek to be more like Jesus?....dare I say, more Holy? Yes. Should we be astonished that a segment of the culture around us despises, detests and rejects us? No...reading the Epistles is clear example of this very thing.

But that is just my opinion. If you are bold enough to post a POV publically, I would love to have a dialogue with you publically. May the marketplace of ideas be out there for everyone to see.

Anthony Bell said...

wow. i've been praying for more humility. thanks for the insight.

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