Please Forgive The Christians
All of us have been wronged by someone in our past, and many times the offenders were none else than the Church folk. Sadly those who are supposed to bring the Gospel or good news to people actually brought a message of condemnation instead, forever polluting the idea of what the Gospel is all about in the minds of many. It seems that the combination of an ignorant Christian bringing a contaminated Gospel message and an ignorant hard-hearted listener is a recipe for conflict. Many get offended at what Christians say to them, however not necessarily because of the Christian doctrine, which is pretty simple, but because of the attitude, demeanor and erroneous doctrine of the one bringing the message.
The last thing Christians should do in communicating the Gospel is to alienate people with rhetoric that offends. If you think about it there is nothing that is really offensive about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However to color the Gospel with a personal interpretation is where the problems normally start. We as Christians should not be afraid of conflict because I suppose even when we bring an undiluted message there will be those who will be intolerant, that will take offence. However in this article I want to point out that many times Christians are their own worst enemy and they do not realize it.
Having done a study this year(2006) on the creation/ evolution debate and what secular scientist believe, it is almost a universal trait that they detest the idea of God creating and many of them want to go out of their way to disprove the Bible. This is also prevalent in the field of archaeology and even ancient history and I believe that there is more to this phenomenon than meets the eye.
Did the Christian Church have a hand in the negative perceptions the world has of Christianity? I believe so.
It seems to me that many people including scientists were probably rubbed the wrong way by those who they perceived to be Christian or by actual Christians and now because of that encounter they reject anything associated with Christianity or the Bible. It is a sort of throw out the baby with the bath water mentality. I am not speaking about Christians who stood for Jesus by the leading of the Holy Spirit and by their actions polarized people for and against Christianity, but about the people who brought shame to the name of Jesus by their words and actions and there by Christians were judged to be hypocritical.
There are also the tendency of some Christians wanting to impose Jesus on others, where did that thought come from? Jesus never taught force as a method of evangelism, nevertheless that did not stop many from imposing their beliefs on others. Instead of just being the salt and the light, that will be to be uncompromising and living out Jesus to the world, we were harsh and unforgiving on those who did not believe like we did.
Then there is the other attitude that Christians have towards unbelievers, we are very nice to them because we want to get them saved, however when they give their lives to Jesus we as the Church become domineering and bossy with them, that is an inconsistency that has to change.
How can you get the guy born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, and then turn around and wanting to run his life?
If we as Christians want to be relevant, we need to take what Jesus said seriously, that is to make disciples and teaching them the Word of God, then let it be for the Holy Spirit to guide them, and not for us with our preconceived ideas of what is ‘best for people’. Like the add say “you might be average looking, nevertheless you are an individual”. We need to treat all people with respect first and like individuals and not like a flock of dumb sheep who cannot think for themselves.
Now, with all that being said, to refute any unfair excuses, if you as an unbeliever or disgruntled believer had an encounter with an ‘mister know it all Christian’, would it be fair of you to disregard all that is Christian just because of one or two bad encounters? What if an ignorant person wanting to prove something misrepresented a philosophy you hold dear and all he did was to put people off from the philosophy, would you want people to disregard what you hold dear just because of one person’s ignorance? The same happens with the truth of the Bible. Daniel Dennett said, “There's nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear.”
What we all should remember is this, just because you do not like the messenger, does not mean the message is invalid. Especially an everlasting life changing message. You as a person who might not like Christians and think all Christians are hypocrites, have you ever considered the Christian doctrine putting those who call themselves Christians aside?
With the sending out of e-mails and receiving allot of them, I have seen the phenomenon of these new types of “Christian” e-mails coming to the fore. Firstly they have these ridiculous looking, fat little angels all over the page and then they say you must pray some prayer or even make a wish and it will come true. I don’t like those e-mails. They are misrepresenting Jesus and what He stands for. It is no wonder that people do not take the message of the Bible serious anymore, with such e-mails doing the rounds.
The Christian of today should start to think about the way he/she is representing Jesus Christ. I know we are not perfect, yet, but never the less we should think twice before we utter things that are not biblical or write things which are erroneous and ridiculous like little wishful prayers that will come true in four days and the like.
The Christian Background in short:
Ever since Jesus left us to go to heaven, we had work to do according to His command and commission. We as the body of Christ, which unfortunately is not everybody who calls themselves Christians should be hard at work in the numerous ways that God has laid out our paths. In the first three hundred years of the Christian Church, the Church were so persecuted that it was entertainment to the ungodly to see them being shamelessly humiliated, tortured and then either burnt or thrown to wild animals to be killed, amongst some other devilishly wicked ways to murder them. In other words right at the beginning of the Christian walk, it was not really easy to be a light for Jesus because you would probably had to flee as soon as you were noticed to be too radical for Christ.
Except for John, all of Jesus’ disciples died as martyrs, John lived out his life and died at the age of about a hundred years. Just by the way according to the Foxe’s book of martyrs many of Jesus’ disciples was crucified, Peter was crucified up side down and Paul the apostle was beheaded. It was not easy to stand for Christ in those days.
Then a certain Emperor ‘Constantine the Great’, came to power and when he became a Christian he made the Church a state sanctioned entity and things were beginning to look up for the Church. However many years later when the Church became more ‘powerful’ and not being persecuted, a new evil were sticking out its head, that was the unbelievable threat of the institutionalized ‘Church’ starting to persecute those who started to speak out against its dead pomp and ceremonious nonsense which they called a Church gathering. In those times people were prohibited to read the Bible, in fact the Bible was translated into Latin which many could not read anyway and they had to sit and listen to what men thought they ought to know about what a Christian should be. This was of course stark formalism and dead religion that did nothing to enhance the God/man relationship. One of the features of the dead religion of those times was the superstition that entered the Church doctrine. Many people paid with their lives and were burnt at the steak as witches because of superstitious beliefs entering the ‘Church’.
The real Christians, who opposed the institution called the ‘Church’, were also burnt at the stake as heretics. I wonder who gave the institutionalized Church the authority to burn people which did not think like they did. It seems strange that those who ran the ‘Church’ killed those who opposed them in the same manner as those who persecuted the early Church many centuries before. If you institutionalize the Church, that means letting people run the Church without the Holy Spirit, being the salt and the light falls by the way side and man’s opinions and lusts become the ruling factor.
Today we have Church splits and various denominations thinking the one is better than the other. However, God has not lost control of His people because there are those who are busy with Him and His work and then their are those who are busy with the things they say are from Him. There is no doubt in my mind that the institutionalized church with hypocritical Christians misrepresented Jesus and His great commission therefore as the world was looking on, all they saw was people calling themselves Christians doing what a supposed Christian should not be doing and they got cynical of the Church as a whole and its mission.
Where did the Christians go wrong?
Rom 2v 21-24 KJV “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you”
It seems we can talk the talk, but not walk the walk and therefore the Name of God is blasphemed by the world because we cannot do what we say. It is hard to be an example when you are just as fallible as everyone else that stands to reason. However, we as Christians need to be examples to the world so how can we be examples to the world while we are just as fallible as they are? The answer is easy; we cannot do it by our own strength. It is when we start to do God’s work by our own strength that we become distasteful to the world, because then our hypocrisy comes to the fore, we say one thing and do the other.
If we were led by the Holy Spirit like we are supposed to be, we will do things right and even though we might offend many in the world by our stance against what the world compromise with, they will at least respect us for not having double standards.
The Bible, which is our Law, teaches us how we should handle people, therefore let us touch quickly on how we should handle people and react to situations to be effective for God. We as individuals might not make an immediate change in someone’s life, however if the people of the world meet enough of us which is not hypocritical and judgmental, but speak the truth and do not compromise our standards, they will be changed by the power of God in us.
What Christians should lookout for:
A Christian with a judgmental attitude is ignorant about the death of Jesus Christ and its meaning to the world. Judgment was effectively taken away from us, at least to go to everlasting damnation. Therefore to stand in judgment of everybody else does not make sense since it is not like you are perfect and cannot be judged by someone else. The judgmental attitude is a definite put off to people, whether you are Christian or not. The Christian that has always a derogatory opinion of people or has always something to say of how bad the government is or how bad the sermon was or how bad his boss treats him/her will not attract people. The judgmental Christian is actually walking on thin ice with God, since the Bible has a lot to say to those who stand in judgment of others.
Matthew 7v 1-5 KJV “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”
Romans 14v 10-13 KJV “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
Let us keep the judgmental attitude away from us and accept a person in the state that he is in, at first and help him out of his trouble and then he will change. Judging a person in the state he is in will help no one. Remember, if God had an attitude towards you like you have towards others, where would you have been?
A Christian that does not or cannot forgive is a contradiction in terms. Christianity is synonymous with forgiveness. The Christian’s everlasting life is based on the concept of forgiveness of wrongs he did against God. Therefore it would be highly hypocritical if a Christian cannot forgive those who wronged him/her. A Christian should be hyper sensitive towards the aspect of forgiveness because he expects God not only to forgive his past sins, but also his future ones and therefore he should be the first to forgive if wronged. So, Christian if you would like to impact people positively, forgive. “Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat”, Harry Emerson Fosdick said, and that is a humorous way to look at it, but it is true.
How many ‘church splits’ happened because of brothers not being able to forgive? How many marriages ended up in divorce because of Christian husbands and wives not being able to forgive?
Unforgiveness will make you a bitter person and bitter people cannot be a good draw card to pull people towards God.
Why should we be mindful of prayer? A person that does not have a prayer life does not have a healthy relationship with God. It does not mean you are not born again, it just means you do not spend proper fellowship time with God. Such Christians are normally susceptible to be drawn into dead ritualistic religion that is based on performance. One thing we forget about the Christian walk is that it is fundamentally a person to person relationship, and not a system driven by performance or adherence to ritual. We are actually busy with a real person and not a higher impersonal being that maybe revealed himself once in the past and are to abstract to have a real relationship with. Prayer is in some ways not the best description of speaking to God, because to pray can mean ask, beg, entreat etc, and that is not what a personal relationship is all about.
You do not have much of a relationship with a person if all you do whenever you speak is to request things from the person. However with prayer we have what nobody else have who does not know God, and that is conversation with “El Shadday”, the almighty-Almighty or almighty God. We can actually speak to God about other people and ask His input into the situation. We can pray for people before speaking to them, and even better when we have finished praying, we can take God with us when we want to impact people because the Holy Spirit dwells inside us, reminding us of all things Jesus taught us in His Word. If you want to impact people, pray.
Being mindful of the future:
A Christian who does not work for a better resurrection has a strange outlook on life indeed. It seems then that he is more interested in the earthly 70 years than in the heavenly eternity to put it that way. The Bible tells us we are saved to do good works, but if we are saved and not busy with good works, what are we telling ourselves when we read verses like that? We are all supposed to work for God. Not that we all need to be preaching, because some have to finance the gospel while others have to preach the gospel, however the skills you use to make your money with are the very skills that God will use to promote the gospel. Whether it be business or sport God can use you to disciple the world.
When Jesus said ‘go out and make disciples of every nation’, he did not speak to the pastors or leaders of the Church only; he spoke to every Christian that would come to know Him. In addition, the Bible teaches that we, as Christians will be rewarded for our life’s work on earth by Jesus, 1Corinthians 3v 11-15 LITV “For no one is able to lay any other foundation beside the One having been laid, who is Jesus Christ. And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, the work of each will be revealed; for the Day will make it known, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire will prove the work of each, what sort it is. If the work of anyone which he built remains, he will receive a reward. If the work of anyone shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss; but he will be saved, but so as through fire.”
Your works will not save you, however remember we are all going to die sooner or later, therefore it will be best to heed the words of Jesus, Revelation 22v 12 KJV “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
Love: The most important factor
A Christian that finds it hard to love people is also a contradiction in terms; his whole forgiveness is bound to love from somebody who he most probably hated, namely God.
If you do not love your neighbor as yourself, who do you love? Love is a non-negotiable issue with God. You are just not allowed to hate people, you may hate what they do, but you should never equate the person to the sin as if the person and the sin is the same thing. If God related to us like that then nobody could be saved. Therefore it does not matter how disgusting the world becomes to you, it does not excuse the Christian from loving the homosexual or drug addict or thief or prostitute, were you any better when you were in the world?
We get confused between not compromising Jesus’ message and being plain rude with people like those mentioned above. Let me explain, some Christians think they have the right to say what they like when they like it, just because they quote what the Bible say on a matter. Now the context of the Bible usually gets lost along the way. We should stop trying to offend people with what the Bible say, that is not good works and that is not a proper use of scripture. Normally when we realize that the person we are having a debate with about some moral issue will not see it our way we rip out a Bible verse, out of context usually to shock the person or to end the argument, however where is the love in that?
Jesus used another method. He did not attack the woman in John 8 v3 which was caught in adultery with condemning scripture did He? And the adulterous woman at the well, He did not condemn. Why? He showed them that they could do better than live life in sin and that He will not condemn them for their weakness, like the religious folk will. However to those who He knew should know of better like the religious people, he confronted them with the scriptures to bring them back to basics. They normally lacked love towards fallen and broken people.
If you are going to bring up scriptures that are condemning to say homosexuals, how are you going to use it? As a weapon to attack and to hurt or offend? Or are you going to use it to point out the ungodliness and unnaturalness of the act in a manner in which those who are involved with it can see that God certainly does not agree with the act, but still love the person? We should then do like Jesus did with the adulteress woman, restore dignity to the person’s life instead of trying to tear the person down more than he already is. 1John 4v 19-21 KJV “We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Many people despise Christians, however what they do not realize is that they despise their perception of Christians, their perception being that anyone who calls themselves Christian is a Christian and that is just plain ignorance if a worldly person thinks that way. The world does not actually know how a real Christian should look like or act or even do business, yet they will give their unsolicited opinions of a Christian yet not knowing the first thing of what a Christian should be like. It is not like they have read the Bible from cover to cover to make an informed judgment of a Christian is it?
Christians are hypocrites when they do not do what they say or do not live the lifestyle they say they live, they are not hypocrites however when they sin and repent to God, because we all sin irrespective if we are born-again or not.
Living with unforgiveness in your heart towards people is like a cancer it will literally make you sick and it will make you a bitter person and it is not becoming a Christian like we said before, indeed it is strictly prohibited by God.
We have no choice; Christians should forgive people who sin against them, like the ‘Lord’s prayer’ says. However, God being the same with everybody and loving everybody the same, for God so loved the world, don’t you think that He expects everyone to forgive sins, worldly and born-again people alike? Shouldn’t the world show some understanding towards the humanity of Christians and forgive them?
Does the world have a right to despise Christians for the wrongs they did indefinitely? And never forgive them? When will the world understand that though they have been wronged by men claiming to be Christian or by actual Christians, that it does not give them a right before God to be excused from obeying the Gospel. They do not have some special right now to have a grudge against Jesus or what the Bible says. I believe that there is a responsibility on every person to forgive irrespective of who or what offended them for their own sake and for the sake of their future.
A Plea to the world:
Forgive everyone for your own sake including Christians, move on with your life and seek the truth about who God really is because, Matthew 7v 7-8 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Be not afraid to seek the truth even though the truth was misrepresented to you, it still remains the truth.
To the Christians:
Jesus is like a person who knew about a threat of destruction which a certain town was facing. So he sends out his servants to warn the people of the town. He made sure the servants were well prepared and He gave them all the resources that they needed to successfully complete their mission. However as the servants was nearing the town they started to quarrel about who was more senior and worthy to give the message to the people so they split up and each started his own group putting his own spin on the message from their master to make the message ‘easier’ to understand.
Now as the different groups hit the town with the different messages, the people of the town became confused about who was the true messengers and what was the true message and some of the town’s residents thought it was all nonsense and lived on like nothing was going to happen to the town. So what happened was that the messengers who was sent out, did not lack what they needed to complete the mission, but when it was time to fulfill the mission they stumbled over themselves and their own personal ambitions and complicated a simple message of warning. However the destruction was still coming, even though the faith in the message was lacking…
Will we who are called by His Name, be a stumblingblock to the world? God forbid.
Copyright 2007 Richard D Kloosman. All rights reserved.
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