I received a call from a relative today who was hurt by another family member over an issue that had erupted into a larger problem because of gossip. On top of that, a cousin, who lives an alternative lifestyle, is coming in town for the holidays and fears being judged by our very churchy family.
The hurt and the gossip and the judging made me really sad. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t our family be one of the most loving families around?
This got me thinking and hunting in my Bible. Jesus came to shake up the planet. His time on this earth in human skin was not full of Sunday school and trips to Disneyland. It was a challenge! He brought a whole new controversial way of thinking and loving and living.
Why do we modern Christians not live more like that?
Something is wrong.
This thinking compelled me to write down some things we, the “holy huddle”, are really getting wrong. (Please note that I am guilty of many of these things myself.)
1. Being Judges. When Jesus was asked, “What is the most important commandment?” He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31). And in John 13:35, Jesus tells us that our love for others should be our trademark as Christians.
We Christ-followers should be the people most known for loving others. When people mention Christians, it should be followed by comments like “They are the nicest people I’ve ever met!” Or “They are the best people to do business with!”
But instead we are often known for judgmental comments on social media or for going to church on Sunday but acting like everyone else on Friday night. In my opinion the two areas Christians do the worst in are in political discussions and interacting with people who live alternative lifestyles.
In political discussions things can get heated quickly, and Christ followers should be the peacemakers. However, we are often the ones angrily expressing our views in all caps. We forget that God is not Democrat or Republican. He is not on the side of any political party or candidate. He is Lord over all governments and leaders and He is ultimately in control. If we realize that and trust that God holds the future, we will not be so fear-driven and unloving as we express our opinions. We also need to remember that God tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), so these differences should be another chance to show kindness and patience.
As far as interacting with people of alternative lifestyles, this should be where we Christians represent Christ the most. However, the LGBTQ community is probably one of the groups that feels the most unloved by Christians. Jesus spent time with the people who didn’t fit into society. The religious leaders accused Him of being a “sinner” and a “drunkard” (Luke 7:34) because Jesus spent time with the “outcasts” of the religious world. We Christians should not be any different. We should be a safe place for people who feel rejected and confused. We should show love to all people, even those who live in a way we wouldn’t always agree with. The church should be a location of love and acceptance. Who knows? Our kindness and friendship could be the way someone finds a relationship with Christ!
2. Being too Comfy. We Christians are way too comfortable in the U.S. Our lives are very different from the lives of Christians in many other countries, as well as from the lives of Christians in the first Century. Those Christians were persecuted, yet they continued in their faith. They wouldn’t give up, and many of them died because they truly lived for what they believed. Many Christians today don’t even want anyone to know they’re a Christian.
Another problem we Western Christians have is that our lives are too easy. We are spoiled. Even the ones of us that struggle with money the most are still doing better than those in developing countries. When I was a single mom years ago, we temporarily lived on food stamps, and I struggled desperately to pay bills. However, I was still better off than many families in other countries. My kids and I never went without food, heat, water, or clothes. We Christians in America have become too comfortable. We have most of what we really need, and we don’t often have to ask God for miracles. Consequently, we’re pretty content to live lives of convenience and materialism. We buy ourselves the latest technology and don’t bat an eyelid at spending $5 on a cup of coffee. If we want something we can order it online at the touch of a button. If we’re hot we turn on the air conditioning. Hungry? Call Uber Eats and have it delivered. Our lives are centered on our comfort. Ease and convenience have become our goals. Yet God rarely works through convenience. He often shakes us up and asks us to step out of our comfort zones. If we are committed to convenience we are not available to do whatever God asks us to do at a moment’s notice. Also, if we are too comfortable we will be lulled to complacency and our faith will grow weak.
3. Being Hypocritical. Not only did Jesus say that we are to be known by our love, but Christians are to be different from the rest of the world. He said we should be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5), meaning our loving contrast from the world should point people to God.
Unfortunately, we Christians are not that different from the rest of the culture. We often live the same way as everyone else: watch the same tv shows, wear the same clothes, and use the same words. Now I’m not advocating hiding away, wearing long robes or throwing out our iPhones. But there should be a difference. This world is not our home. We should not be too comfortable here on earth. The Bible says we Christians are like strangers to this world and we shouldn’t participate in the sin around us (1 Peter 2:11). We should still be loving friends and neighbors, but we should stand out as different. Not perfect, but different.
I should point out here that every human being is a hypocrite. We all, at some point in our lives, say we believe one thing but live the contrary. Every human goes against their own personal goals at some point (for instance: How long do New Year’s resolutions last?). One problem Christians face is that, since we are still sinners that need Jesus and His forgiveness daily, we mess up a lot. Those mistakes can result in us being called “hypocrites.” I would encourage any brothers or sisters in Christ, if you are tagged a hypocrite, don’t become defensive. Acknowledge your need for Jesus, search your heart, ask for forgiveness if necessary, and show love to your accuser. Let this be a chance to show how imperfect Christians are and how Christ uses broken vessels like us (2 Corinthians 4:7).
In conclusion, we followers of Jesus have much to learn. We are constantly growing and failing, getting back up and repeating it all again. The hope is that we let God change us and we grow to be more like Him over time. One of my favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, where it says God can actually use me more when I’m weak and willing to let Him work in me. When we let Him live in us and use us, we connect ourselves to a channel of love more powerful than anything else in this world. Fellow believers, let Him change you. Let Him use you. Let’s let Him fill our hearts with His love so that we will get out of our comfort zones and live lives that are full of salt and light!
Thanks for reading.
Your imperfect sister in Christ, Lauren
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10