Christians are often perceived as being weird and pushy. How can we overcome these perceptions? Check out this concluding part of "Changing the Perception" for more tips. (Did you miss Part I? Click here)

PIOUSNESS

We need to be careful about coming across as if we don't think we make any mistakes. When unbelievers look at us, they tend to scrutinize us to see if we "measure up." Many of them mistakenly think that, because we speak out about bad behavior or immorality, we think we are perfect. When they see that we are not (and for most of us this is only too apparent!), they may dismiss what we say as if we don't practice what we preach. This is not only a misconception that they have about Christians, but it is a belief that is fostered by Christians! When we speak out against something someone has done yet will not acknowledge our own mistakes, we communicate that we are justified in our behavior but are not willing to tolerate the same justification for others' behavior.

We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, and we need to be willing to show this to our non-Christian friends. Being a Christian doesn't mean we never make mistakes. We know that. But the more we act as if we are superior, the more we are seen as hypocrites. We need to speak with grace and respect and be willing to humbly admit our shortcomings and mistakes. This brings us down to a level others can relate to and perhaps even agree with. Amen?

BEING TOO SERIOUS

One of the misconceptions about Christians is that we don't have any fun. One way we contribute to that perception is by taking things far too seriously. While some jokes are not wholesome and some are downright cruel, some are just plain fun. If we lighten up a little bit and learn to laugh at ourselves, we will find that we attract more people to us.

I am one of only two Christians in my extended family, so I take considerable ribbing when it comes to matters of religion. I sometimes receive Christian jokes in my e-mail. Some of them are funny! If I learn to laugh at myself and am not constantly on my guard, thinking that things are meant with malice, I can relax and have fun with them, which only draws me closer to people with whom I can share my faith.

PUSHING

Christians are perceived as the only religious group that actively, and in an organized way, seeks to convert others to their beliefs by opening a dialog. You don't normally see a Buddhist come to your door or meet a Jew who tries to get you to come to synagogue. You may not think this to be true, but let me explain two things to you.

First, most nonbelievers lump several religious groups together and call them Christians, which makes for a larger percentage of "proselytizing persons." This includes the large percentage of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons who go door to door.

Second, you may be thinking that there is a large Muslim community whose numbers have been expanding for years. The Muslims don't tend to make their attempts at conversion in an organized way, unless you consider the terrorists who use force. These attempts are not considered by most to be acts of conversion, but rather, acts of violence.

The Lord tells Christians to go out to the four corners and share the good news, but He doesn't say for us to appear pushy. The Lord gives us free will, and we should make sure we communicate that to those with whom we are sharing His Word. If we speak with respect and don't harp on something after they have already declined an invitation to church, we are setting a better Christian example. We are also sharing in a much more effective way. If we allow them that free will, they just might take us up on our offer a few months later.

CONDEMNING

This is where a lot of non-Christians see "intolerance" in us. Should we be tolerant of bad behavior? Immoral issues? Injustice? No. Will condemning the person help him or her to see our side? Also no.