Christians have a bad reputation for being unkind, intolerant, harsh, judgmental, and self-righteous. Oh, and uneducated.
Now of course, anytime you speak about, or live, moral absolutes, you’ll get attacked by people who don’t want to be told — either by your words or example — that what they’re doing is wrong. Jesus Himself didn’t make a lot of friends on this planet.
From time and distance, however, most people, even those who don’t choose to believe who Christ is and what He says, concede that He was “a great teacher,” or a “morally upright man.” They don’t go on and on about His acrimonious unfeeling attitude toward the lives and feelings of others.
That’s reserved for us, His hands and feet, His voice and message, and Christ warned us that this would be so:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15: 18-19)
If The Hated Christ, They’ll Hate You
So the upshot is, if you are truly living for Christ, the eventual outcome is that many people who do not know Him — the world — will hate you, simply because of who and what your Master, Christ, is. And yet you, and I, persevere because the message which the world hates so much — that God loves us, deeply and dearly, and wants to enfold us in His arms — is one that individual people within the world are crying to hear.
That’s Part A of Why the World Hates Us.
Part B is a bit more disturbing, because it — justifiably — makes us look bad.
But Sometimes, There’s Another Reason
Too many times, people strongly dislike Christians not because of the message of our Master, but because of the attitude we project when we seek to convey that message. We come across as:
Intolerant (this word is vastly overused by media moguls and propaganda pushers who seek to make any difference of opinion, on any issue that they manipulate, a matter of “hate.” Just because malevolent forces misuse the word does not mean that we avoid the matter. To be tolerant does not mean to back off and give in to the louder voice; it means to be courteous of the dignity of others, and not railroad our opinions through).
This list can go on indefinitely, the point being that, when we walk into a room and make the rest of the people in it feel like slug droppings because they could never approach our level of holiness, virtue, saintliness and piety, we have actually failed to get across the veritable essence of those attributes. People — real people — were drawn to Christ because of His love, understanding, patience, sensitivity, and kindness, and He managed to convey, and teach, truth without abandoning any of these.
Christ’s Example Is the Right One
With the weak He was gentle; with the arrogant He was firm; with the foolish He was patient; with the cunning He was wise. But He Himself was never proud, demanding, merciless, or disagreeable. Far too often, we are.
But we serve a loving and gracious God, and if we back off and pull away from our outward trappings of religiosity, He works with us to show what real compassion, kindness, wisdom, discernment, and mercy look like, as opposed to the substitutes we so easily fall into.
Carolyn Henderson is an author, home educator, and business owner who integrates Christianity with real life, and common sense with Christianity. Her books include: Live Happily on Less — 52 Ideas to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle and Grammar Despair. Read more from Carolyn on her blog Commonsense Christianity