This post is my OPINION and my OPINION only 🙂
I felt compelled to write this post after attending church today. I went to church today for the first time since the end of May, and I’m really glad that I did. We began a study on the book of Titus. I’ve never really delved that deep into Titus myself, so I found it pretty interesting.
The sermon today made me think of things that I’ve faced in my life recently. Mostly, the notion that Christians should be different from the rest of the culture.
Christians are meant to be “the salt of the Earth,” (Matthew 5:13). Christians are meant to be different from the rest of the world. But, many times, Christians are different in what is perceived to be a “bad” way.
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Ghandi
Have you ever watched The Simpsons? I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen just about every episode in the first 10 seasons or so. There’s this character called Ned Flanders, who’s supposed to be the stereotypical Christian – so overly happy that it seems fake, and condemnatory of everything secular.
Christians can be different without being like Ned Flanders. Here’s what I think about being “different” as a Christian:
- On spreading the word
I recently had a conversation with a friend that turned into an argument. Looking back on it, I believe that I responded in anger when I should have remained calm, so I understand why my friend was so frustrated with me. We were talking about how Christians should act in everyday life.
It’s my belief that Christians should act distinct from the culture. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with handing out tracts, evangelizing, etc.
My friend, from what I gathered (he is a Christian, too), thinks that belief should be much more personal. It seems to me that he’s inwardly Christian, and less outwardly Christian.
He stated that handing out tracts, trying to share the gospel with other people, things of that nature, is a way of Christians saying “I’m better than you.” Not an act of love.
I have handed out tracts (not very many, but I’d like to do it more often). I’ve shared my faith with others, mostly only over the internet. I haven’t done either of these things very much, though I’d like to; and the few times I have done them, I didn’t do them to prove that I’m better than anyone else.
In sharing the gospel, my biggest hope is this: to not be patronizing! Never would I ever want anyone to get the impression that my sharing the gospel with them is me trying to prove that I’m better than them. The bible makes it pretty clear that good works won’t earn you a spot in heaven.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; – Titus 3:5
Also read Ephesians 2:1-8 and Romans 4:1-8.
No matter how many tracts I hand out, church services I attend, or mission trips I go on, none of those things will change the fact that I’ve been a sinner by nature since the day I was born, and that I will inevitably sin every day. If I go through the motions and “do what I’m supposed to do” in order to make me feel better about myself, then I’m not a Christian.
As far as I’m concerned, if sharing Christ with others becomes about me and not about Christ, then I’m no longer a Christian.
I evangelize because it’s what I’m told to do (Matthew 28:19). Because I want to be like Jesus and that’s what He did (John 15:10-14). Because I would want someone to do the same to me (John 13:34).
Anyway, I told my friend that I believe that those who evangelize shouldn’t be “in people’s faces.” They shouldn’t do the finger wagging while saying “You’re going to Hell,” They should invoke love, not anger. I believe that evangelizers shouldn’t have the goal to convert people on the spot, but rather to “plant a seed” in their mind; to get people thinking about the gospel of Jesus (though, hey, if the person you’re talking to tells you that they want to conver then and there then go for it).
Also, the gospel cannot (and should not) be forced onto people. If someone doesn’t respond to having the gospel shared with them, if they’re simply not interested, then there’s a reason for that (see Romans 9:18).
I know that there *are* plenty of “Christians” who are only in it for themselves. But, the true Christians don’t do it for their own gratification. They do it for God.
- On being different
Romans 12:2 is why I believe that Christians should be both inwardly and outwardly Christian. You have to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.” However, doing so doesn’t mean that you should think that you’re better than others. Walking the walk doesn’t mean being a jerk.
My pastor said something today that I thought was profound, that I think Christians and non-Christians alike should take note of:
Be different in a humble, servant-like way. We don’t try to be different because WE are w0rthy or righteous. We try to be different because HE is worthy and righteous.
- Lord, save us from your followers
There’s a great documentary called “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers.” Watch it if you get the chance.
I know several people who are not Christians, and several people who choose not to “walk the walk,” because they are severely turned off by the attitude of Christians. Because they have had bad experiences with people who called themselves “Christians.”
I think that if someone has chosen to walk away from faith because they dislike the actions of other “Christians,” then they should give faith another chance.
An integral part of being Christian is being “the salt of the Earth,” and it’s possible to do so without being a Ned Flanders. It’s possible to be different in a humble, loving, serving way. This way of being different is what, as a Christian, I hope to strive for.