A lot of people say they reject Christianity because they believe Christians are hypocrites. They say that Christians don’t really show a lot of love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, etc. Even some very conservative Christians I talk to agree with that. So how do I answer that?
- Christians don’t have their act together, generally speaking, any more than non-Christians do. Everyone is deeply flawed. Everyone has handicaps. What ‘advantage’ Christians have is that they admit (or they should) that they are broken sinners. It’s like AA, we are coming to say we admit that we are broken sinners, and that we need to look to God and the community of fellow believers to encourage us to live good, godly lives.
- Christianity has become what I would call “Churchianity” for many Christians. They have added rules, traditions, and ways of thinking that are not true Christianity. One of the biggest themes of Jesus’ ministry was a rejection of the pharisaic way of focusing on the superficial and pushing those beliefs on others. We tend to look back on the portrayal of Pharisees as “those people” who were so bad, yet we have a lot of that going on in our society and if we admit it we may have some of that going on inside ourselves.
- We need to have a “high” view of scripture, but perhaps it is possible to have too “high” of a view of scripture. If you look at the history of scripture, it was a pretty messy process. None of the original documents are available and even YEC sites like Answers in Genesis admit that the translations could have flaws. Obviously, God could have waited until later in history when communication was more reliable or he could have used more dramatic, miraculous ways to convey clear and flawless scripture. But, it seems that he did not intend to do that and did not want us to make scripture so high that we have less room for a dynamic relationship with the Trinity. After all, God also gave us a personal relationship with him, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This definitely does NOT mean that we should have a low view of scripture. It is, after all, God’s inspired word to humans. We certainly believe that it is God’s Word and a foundation of Christian faith. It is worthy of deep study and meditation (perhaps more so than many people’s superficial, somewhat rote readings of scripture).
- A lot of people, including Christians, gravitate towards ‘rules.’ I’m not saying that there aren’t any important rules that God promotes through scripture. But for some Christians, there is a tendency to carry them far beyond what scripture says. That’s because rules are easier for some than a dynamic personal relationship with God. Plus, we often don’t have a clue of what God is telling us. We have to work hard to get close enough to hear God. We tend to allow a lot of voices into our life that interfere with being sensitive enough to hear from God. That may be through TV, the Internet, and the values within them, that seep into our way of thinking. Or it could be some of the people we associate with.
- I believe that we need to work at letting God’s voice seep into our thinking. That includes meditating on scripture and things that pastors/teachers and others say that resonate in our soul. We need to “test everything, hold on to what is good.” and “think on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure…” In my experience, God can work through many different methods to teach me. I don’t often learn when things are going good, but it’s through the difficult things and their aftermath that I learn the most. God doesn’t always ‘rescue’ us from pain and grief. He is like any good parent: once the child gets old enough, God sometimes gives us ‘tough love’ and pushes us to stand on the two feet he gave us. For me, I also realized that at times my soul is in a struggle against ‘the dark side.’ We have to use everything within our power to stop feeding that side (which makes it grow) and feed more God’s side in our life. While that includes evil things, it also includes things that are not particularly spiritual things, like eating right, exercising, avoiding bad influences, practicing good psychological health, studying & thinking on good things, helping others, getting/maintaining a healthy ‘support’ group, etc. I have learned a lot through others in my ‘support group’ (which includes a small group, but also my sphere of family and friends). I believe that it is important to regularly take ‘an inner look.' Sometimes we see that something that doesn’t feel quite right. That is an indication to talk to God about helping us to see and overcome the dark side influence. For example, it might include a sense of condemnation or superiority that we feel over others. This is something that I think a lot of us tend towards. For me, God is slowly helping me to realize that that is wrong, and in my own ways, I am just as bad as others. I need to grow in humility, godly character, and loving others (which occasionally means ‘tough love’).
- As Pat Morely says, “Many of us have merely added Christ to our lives as another interest in an already busy and otherwise overcrowded schedule. This sort of thinking has watered down the meaning of a personal relationship with Christ. The problem is that we often seek the God we want, but do not know the God who is.”*
- There has been a significant trend away from active Christianity to “Unaffiliated” in national polls. Much of that has been because of false impressions of what Christianity is, based on some Christians and groups. Many people have concerns about Christianity that are not directly related to science and faith conflict issues. Together with the issues with science vs faith, my desire is to show that they do not need to leave Christianity because of false impressions of it.
*Quote is from Walking with Christ in the Details of Life: 75 Devotional Readings