I have read some things recently in the blog world that have disturbed me greatly. Things about Christians. It’s nothing new. I’m aware these thoughts and feelings exist. We are self-righteous. We are close-minded. We are hateful and intolerant. We are hypocrites.
What upsets me is not that people think these things of us. What upsets me is that we have given them reason to think these things.
The very most basic, fundamental tenant of Christianity is that we are we are desperately wicked and in need of a Savior. As Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Now, if quoting Scripture makes you twitch — or click away — and you know who you are — please bear with me for a minute. Cause if you fancy yourself all open-minded and tolerant, then you should at least hear me out. I’m just sayin’.)
In other words, no one is perfect. Every last one of us is born sinful and without hope unless or until we put our trust in Christ Jesus. Isaiah 53:6 sums it up well, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him [Christ] the iniquity [sins] of us all.”
As benefactors of the greatest gift ever bestowed upon mankind, Christians SHOULD be the most gracious, humble, and loving people to walk the earth. But of course we’re not any more gracious, humble and loving than anyone else because down deep inside, we are no more perfect than anyone else. And yet, there SHOULD be a distinction between believers and unbelievers because we DO have the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. But all too often, WE get in the way of our message of hope and salvation when we get caught up in petty disputes and squabbles, or our sinful prejudices surface.
And there is also the misinterpretation of what is gracious, humble, and loving. None of those words mean that we shouldn’t stand up for what we believe to be true and right. The gospel will always be offensive to some because while it is a message of love and hope, it is also exclusive. The most well-known verse in all of Scripture is probably John 3:16, but the verses following flesh it out even more.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
So yes, Christianity by nature IS exclusive. We can’t apologize for that. HOWEVER. We should make sure that it is ONLY the gospel and NOT our own sinful prejudices and behaviors that people find offensive. And that is what I believe we have done to make our message so distasteful. Because we ARE sinful and imperfect, we often get caught up in silly squabbles. We get angry. We say things that are unkind. We feel envious towards others. We put more faith in ourselves or our jobs or our kids or our money than we do in God. We allow secondary issues to divide us when we should be united in Christ.
I am here to tell you that I have done every single one of those things, and it grieves me. So I repent. I take my sins of pride and self-reliance to my Lord and lay it at His feet and accept his forgiveness and ask for his grace to do better tomorrow. And of course I sin again. It’s a process. I will never be perfect, although as I grow in grace and knowledge of my Savior I should be growing more like Him. But as long as I am in my earthly body there will always be sin in my life. And the same is true for every one of us.
The only difference between a follower of Christ and anyone else is that the Christian lays his or her sin at the feet of Jesus daily and claims His cloak of righteousness as a free gift that was purchased by his death on the cross. And the invitation to do just that is open to everyone.