The Christian of love

This post 4 of 6 posts where I have been reflecting on a chapter out of the book UnChristian.
The chapter is about Christians being Judgmental we have really caused a lot of pain and negative image because of our own sinfulness. And in the last three posts we saw the negative. We saw how Christians are wrong to be so judgmental.

But there is hope. There is a way we can be Christians of truth and still reach out to the lost. Key Word from last post was respect: How?

Listen to outsiders.
Don’t label.
Don’t be so smart. Don’t pretend to have all the answers.

Have empathy. imagine yourself in their shoes. Really get to know them, their situation! Understand them!!!

Be genuine and real with everyone. Don’t use the relationship to front a “christian agenda.” Be yourself. Allow the Holy Spirit to weave in your faith in the conversation but do not be too aggressive about it. Be conversational. Be real.

Be a friend with no other motive. This speaks BIG!

See them as God does.

Let God judge!

The hypocritical Christian

This is post 3 of 6. This post series is based on chapter 8 of the book called UnChristian. Today’s post is the last of the bad news. The snowball effect from the first two posts continues to worsen here.

Okay, Christians come across as Judgmental. We are convinced that we are right. We know that sin is bad. We like to be prideful about our lifestyle.

We are seeing though that we can come across as self-righteous, as prideful. We are seeing that our judging outsiders is just as sinful as the action of those outsiders (that we were judging.)

This is humbling. This is hard to swallow, but this it the truth, it hurts. We need to change!

But here is probably the harshest news yet…it all builds on what was said in the past posts….WE tolerate our own pride! The church has accepted and has done little to excuse our arrogance. It is the sin the church is okay with,has not dealt with, has forgottewn about, has swept under the rug, and let it go by quietly.

This has been a huge problem…think about it: a community of big headed people who are very proud of themselves…they are active in Bible thumping. They are encouraged to point out sin and honor themselves as morally upright. This community is NOT THE church I WANT to be a part of!

This picture scares me…but there is truth in it. 😦

So hear is some application:

Key concept: The opposite of sin is not virtue, but grace. (and love.)
God tells us not to judge but to reach out with grace and love.

Key word: Respect

The sinful Christian

This is part two of six blog posts reflecting on a book called UnChristian. The specific topic of this series is judgmentalism and this post in particular, Christians flaws that we do not realize sometimes.

Stereotypes kill relationships! We sometimes harbor assumptions, prejudices, stereotypes, biases, about certain groups of people based on superficial stupid differences that should not make a difference at all! (Such as appearance, tattoos, excessive fat, dirty hair, ragged clothing, a lot of rings all over the body, bad breathe, etc)
These are the people we should be loving and reaching out too! these stereotypes come from misperceptions, misconceptions, misunderstandings, and they are errors on our part.

Can you not see it – it is so obvious to me, by judging these people wwe are just as sinful as those we are condeming.

Have you ever heard hate the sin, and love the sinner….
this is how it should be
but people think that Christians hate the sin and the sinner

We need to change this!

Let us not be so anxious to judge, but rather to LOVE. Even Christians make mistakes, get over it!

What we need to be doing is hanging out with the least desirable people in our culture and loving them as Christ did! Not judging them.

Our error: Pride, arrogance!

We are in conceit. We are in abundance. We are way to convinced that we are right about everything.

Becuase of this error, we are not open to other people’s perspectives in life. We are too aggressive and on the edge ready to persuade everyone else that they are wrong and we are right that we forget LOVE. We judge and we do not get to understand where others are coming from!

We so easily forget that God is to judge NOT humans!

We are to love. Wwe are to care for the needy and hurting.

The Judgmental Christian

In a series of six posts (including this one) are inspired by the book UnChristian by Kinnaman and Lyons.

The book has been an eye-opening read. Very humbling and I wish everyone could read it. The book reveals the perspective of “outsiders” to Christianity and acknowledges how these outsides see Christianity. There is a lot the church can work on! A lot to be gleaned from these outside perspectives. And a lot of problems that even the most distant outsider can see about the church and its image. The book is backed not only with outsider opinion but also hard data from Barna Research Group.

Chapter 8 is about how Christians are perceived as being judgmental. This is the main chapter from which I will be blogging about in the next several posts, along with my own perspective.

The jist of the matter is that Christians are perceived (and understandably so!!!) as prideful about their faith, their moral character, their “spiritual superiority.” Christians can come across as arrogant and self-righteous. For we are quick to judge, to point out others wrong, and put others down. Some say we sound like we are better than others. That we are too focused on others faults.

You might be saying, “Okay, okay Alex…we are assertive, we know right from wrong!!”

Well my response is that HOW we communicate is just as important as WHAT we communicate. It is an important fact that we are all fallen and sinners in need of a Savior, but we can communicate this with love, grace, and peace. We do not need to be harsh, rash, and judgmental.

What are some of our errors:
Lost track of our main audience: We are trying to please those inside the church and not reach out to those outside of church…and not GOD!

Errors in judgment:
Wrong verdict – we judge becuase we have a lack of understanding a lack of information… instead we should get to know them

Wrong timing :
Yweah we have the right ideas about God’s view but sometime we scare people away becuase we are too wquick to give the proper verdict….at hte wrong time.

Wrong moivation:
Are we motived by love and compassion like Jesus or something else?

Playing Favorites:
Are we loving everyone equally? More importantly are we loving those outside the church equally?

I have a lot more to say on these topics and other relavent information, but you are going to have to stay posted on this blog and my upcoming posts on a continual basis!

There is an answer…

All men have a bend towards sin, but there is an answer…

from Unchristian by David Kinnaman:

“No one goes to heaven because of what they do or do not do. Every human
sins
, and we all deserve Hell for that. But Jesus freely offers everyone his
grace.
…homosexual behavior is sin, but it is no different than if I sleep with someone
other than my wife or even momentarily have a sexual fantasy. God created
sexuality, it is good, but it can expressed in wrong ways. Every one of us, gay
or straight or whatever, expresses sexuality in wrong ways. It all comes down
to what you do with Jesus.”
(pg. 108)

I just finished chapter 5 of Unchristian called “antihomsexual.”
It was another hard chapter and humbling chapter to read.

I really had not put too much time or thought into the what the culture, as a whole, thinks about Christians relating to the topic of homosexuality.

Christians have
A. been wrong, too conservative, and mean
B. left people with the wrong idea of what we believe about homosexuality
C. left people with the wrong idea of how we should treat homosexuals
D. hurt people
E. wrong priorities

What we really believe is that homosexuality is a sin, yes, but it is no worse than any other sin.
And Jesus still loves and has mercy on homosexuals, just as he has had mercy on us and forgiven us of our sins.

Bad perception due to real problems within Christianity:
Christians have displayed a special and bad image for the sin of homosexuality. It is “the big one.” And Christians have irrationally fought harder against the issue of homosexuality than any other sin/issue.

We have come across as arrogant, uncompassionate, self-righteous, inconsistent, and uncaring to homosexuals. Our method has been ineffective, stupid and dumb. We have repelled young outsiders from church because of this issue. When this happens, it is apparent that we have lost sight of what is really important! Jesus Christ as their answer and salvation!
Stop fighting the sin and show the love, grace, mercy and compassion that Christ would!

Think about it. Homosexuality is a sin, but it is only a sin! You also sin!
We are all sinners. God’s gift of grace is what is important! Regardless of our sin, God still loves us.
Don’t avoid relationships with people because of their lifestyle. Make relational connections with homosexuals. Stop preaching at them and going to political war with them. Treat them as HUMANS, treat them as friends. It is sad I have to say this! Respect. Love. Grace. Show them Jesus. Build on real relationships.

define hypocrite – chapter 3 of Unchristian

I’ve been reading Unchristian by Kinnaman, Barna research, Lyons, and other contributors.
It is a good book, so far very humbling to read but it is raising my awareness and passion about problems with the modern American church.

On particular topic that I want to blog about relating to the book is the term hypocrite.

Hypocrite is taken from an old Greek word that refers to wearing a mask. It is the idea of putting on an “act” or a “show.” The real person is behind the mask.

Hypocrisy occurs basically when you profess (or say that you believe) something that you do not really believe ( because your actions speak against what you say.) The reason it gets confusing is because it really is not hypocrisy when a pastor preaches against a sin with which he is personally struggling against.

It is not the belief that goes wrong (it is good to hold the belief against sin for instance) what goes wrong is the man, the person holding the belief. When he sins he goes against his belief, and becomes a hypocrite.

A hypocrite is two-faced. Says on thing and does another thing. Has double standards. In today’s world, actions speak louder than words.

The book goes on to say that the majority of the secular world view Christians as hypocrites. And that also they are “used” to hypocrites. The fact that the church of Christians is a church of hypocrites is no big deal to them. They see no difference between us Christians and the rest of the world…this is a huge image problem. They do not even care about our beliefs in holiness and living a Christian lifestyle, because they do not see it in our lives. They see us as hypocrites.

Encouraging this image problem is the church itself:
We have 2 main groups in the church today. These two groups are taking almost two different extremes.
First we have the older Christians who believe that lifestyle is extremely important. We should be living pure and holy lives that match up to Scripture.
Then we have the younger Christians who do not keep lifestyle as such a high priority.

Then the two groups collide, outsiders of the church see hypocrisy. The older Christians are teaching rules and regulations while the younger Christians are not keep or even trying to keep these rules.

What we should learn is balance.
First to the older Christians, return to grace. Return to mercy. return to realistic image of man. We are all sinners. Outsiders do not want to be a part of a church of rules and regulations. Focus on relationships, building trust and fellowship. Return to worship.

Perfection is not the answer. That is not what Christianity is about. If it is perfection you are seeking then you are reducing Christianity down to a list of moral benchmarks and judgementalism. This sucks because no one is ever going to be sinless, no one is perfect. This only scares outsiders away. Our faith is a relationship not rules! Stop presenting ourselves this way. Present Jesus! The forgiver of sins.

To the younger Christians, remember the commandments of the Lord. Think about the image you are portraying with your life to outsiders. We are sinful man, but we do not have to be slaves to sin. We return to Christ. We return to purity. It is God’s grace not rules and regulations.

This is disobedience and inauthentic. People view us a fake when we live just like everyone else, when they do not see the difference between us and the world. We need to live in accordance to Scripture, live the difference. Live in but not of the world.

As a whole, we need to return to accountability and transparency. We are struggling between being fake and being superficial. Is that the Christianity we want. This is Unchristian. This is bad. But this is where we stand. This is what outsiders of the church are seeing.

We need to return to authenticity and restoration. Instead of fighting a culture war, let’s transform by restoring people. Let’s fight poverty, crime, and addiction. Not the people. Let’s take real action.

Being completely honest and realistic we see that we are never going to not be hypocritical. Think about it we are sinners. We have a sin nature. The big picture is that we are sinners saved by grace. We are trying not to sin, but we will. And the difference to outsiders is that we are authentic. We are imperfect but we are full of grace and forgiveness. We admit our sin and show people where our source of restoration comes from, God.

We need to out of our high thrones or high pews. We need to let God humble us a bit. We need to see the outsiders. They are outside of our churches on the streets just a few feet away. But we are too good for them. How sad is that!?! The church has lost a lot of respect due to our arrogance and pride. Our inabilities to reach out to those on the street who really need you!