Alarming? Yes. True? Unfortunately, like every human, Christians are not perfect and therefore are susceptible to sin. And sometimes that sin affects you and me.
So yes, a Christian can be just as big as a jerk as the non-Christian who treats you terribly. Or in one of today’s popular terms, Christians, too, can suck.
In everyday life, people will hurt us either intentionally or unintentionally. We may get cut off while driving, passed up for a promotion, back stabbed at work or a friend may decide to date the man or woman you have your eyes set upon.
Of course your reaction is usually somewhere around anger. But what’s your reaction when the driver in front of you who cuts you off has a fish decal on the back of their car? Or what if the backstabbing takes place at a Christian work place or by those who profess to be Christian?
The wound can be a little deeper. And the pain may last longer.
Unfortunately it’s these types of “Christians” who keep many others from deciding on choosing life with Christ. In their book “I’m Glad You Asked” Ken Boa and Larry Moody say there are 12 issues non-Christians can have with accepting Christianity. One of those is hypocrisy.
Many people who call themselves Christian are not so. And there are those Christians who are indeed in God’s family but continue in their reckless abandon.
But for those of us already on board how do we deal with our brother or sister? Surely, those in the Book of Life will not turn their backs on the One because of the actions of others who claim to worship Him as we do.
The reality is the pain is worse when a Christian hurts or offends us over that of a non-believing counterpart.
I’ve had my share of hurtful situations, primarily in the workplace. I’ve worked with a man who stated out loud reasons why he wasn’t a Christian. This was done, I believe, so I could hear. This same man when I was helping him with clients would openly and subtly mock my faith. Sure, the client thought he was being jolly and respectful, but I knew the underlining intent.
I had a supervisor lie to her supervisor in my presence about instructions she gave me, simply to save her own hide. And, I worked for two years under an individual who was downright mean and hateful to those who worked under her. Her demeanor was inexplicable and to this day I have no idea what made her so angry. There was no doubt Christ was absent in all these individuals.
Imagine my joy then when I landed a job at a Christian college. Everyone there had the same goal. Everyone was Christian and everyone acted Christian. Right?
Unfortunately, even in a place where people are required to sign a statement attesting to their relationship with Jesus Christ, people can be ugly. The bureaucracy and red tape was just as low and dirty as that which happens in the “real” world. And, yes I fell victim to lies and deceit I never thought imaginable – at least in a place where I believed God’s affirmation was equivalent to that in church.
So you know what sticks with me more? Is it the man who openly discussed reasons for not being a Christian? Was it the woman who lied to save herself? Was it the person who seemed to detest anyone she had command over?
Or was it the Christian who told me one thing for almost two years and then admitted to a “truth” after letting me go? And even then I’m not sure the truth was told. I had the evidence, both hard and circumstantial, but arguing to save my position would have been an exercise in futility.
Yes, I’ve looked past the others. I know they can come to forgiveness. I expect non-Christians to act, well, like a non-Christian. But I expect a Christian to act godly. Not perfect but most definitely not deliberate in their attempts at furthering their own worldly careers and egos at the expense of others.
It is, indeed, hard to reconcile the fact that one day I will share the Kingdom with professing Christians who brought me harm. Assuming they are Christian. Again, as Boa and Moody argue as well as the Bible, there are those who profess but who are not. In that case, there will be joy in seeing the non-Christian Christian coming into the Light.
But what about the true Christian blinded by their ambition or thoughtlessness? The Christian who claims to have prayed about how to deal with a circumstance only leaving you scratching your head wondering what god they prayed to? The Christian whose sin directly impacts your life, yet who is so oblivious to the fact they need forgiveness?
The Christian you’ve prayed you’ll never see again? Perhaps in this lifetime. But again we know there is an afterlife. I’d go out of my way to avoid them at the store, how will it work in heaven? Even more troubling, how do you explain the circumstances of being bit by a fellow Christian to your non-Christian friends?
For the skeptic, Boa and Moody say we should explain Christ’s view of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is sin. And Christ hates it. Matthew 23:28 Jesus says “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. “ Jesus referred to the scribes and Pharisees as whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, unclean on the inside.
If we are called to pray for our non-Christian friends than certainly we are called to pray for one another. And just as disturbing, if a Christian can harm you and I, we have the capability to harm other Christians. Maybe we already have. Now that we’re in the shoes we once placed someone in, we can recognize it.
But the Bible is clear that God will make right all wrongs. And it is likely that once in His presence nothing will matter. The harm done to us in this lifetime, even by Christians, will become like a childhood misgiving that is looked back upon with laughter at how personal we took it. Or its entirely possible we will learn one day that the experience prevented us from doing the same thing but with grave eternal consequences.