It seems that around the world, Christ’s reputation among non-Christians is getting more and more negative. More and more among secular society, Christians are being viewed as narrow-minded, anti-gay, hateful, holier-than-thou, condescending and negative. Is this really a good representation of Christ?
While many people, both Christians and non-Christians, do seem to understand that Christianity should not be judged by looking at Christians, that number is very much the minority. Instead, the vast majority look to those who profess Christ as their yardstick for the basis of their perception of Christianity rather than looking at Christ Himself.
That being the case, as Christians, we need to recognize this and do what we can to avoid giving Christ a bad reputation. This is really nothing new. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Romans:
23“You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Paul warns those of us to loudly profess our faith in Christ that, when we do proclaim Christ so openly, we put ourselves in a position to represent Him to the rest of society. Paul doesn’t indicate that secular society should judge Christianity by looking at us. He only points out that they do.
How many Christians do you know who walk around saying things like, “Praise the Lord!” about 10,000 times a day. Or openly walk around with a Bible under their arm. Or get involved in every church program available. But then when you see these people outside of the “churchy” environment, they are mean, judgmental, condescending, selfish or rude. Or any combination of the above.
Paul explicitly tells us that those types of people dishonor God!
For myself, I would probably be more open about my faith, except that I feel like I’m about the worst example of Christianity there is and I live in fear of sullying Christ’s reputation. There are areas of my life, with respect to my relationships with others, that I do not exactly have the light of Christ shining through me.
Immediately preceding the above passage, Paul describes the expectations of those who take on the mantel of “disciple” as follows:
17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth– 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
Take a close look at what is expected from Christ’s disciples. How are we at being a guide, a light, an instructor, a teacher? Are we constantly studying and learning ourselves so that we can better teach other disciples? Are we doing the very things we tell other Christians that they should not do?
St. Peter tells us that these teachings are not new, but they are to be reminders to us. This passage is one that I, personally, need to revisit quite often as a reminder of how I’m doing. I have to remind myself of these things when I want to judge someone else. Or when I’m simply not sharing the truth in love.
How are you doing in this area?
Grace, love and peace!