There is a famous quote from Indian leader and peace-maker Gandhi that sums up what much of the world probably feels about Christianity:
"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
As Christians, our impulse response to something like this is, “Yes! But it’s all about Christ!” Have you ever struggled to explain to someone that Christianity should be judged worthy because of Christ alone, and not on the behavior of fallen, imperfect Christians?
Pastor and blogger Jarrid Wilson went through this same struggle before devoting himself fully to Christ and the Church. He explains it in his recent blog, 5 Reasons I Hated Jesus. One factor that kept him from Christ was his impression that Christians were hypocrites. And he admits, “I found out I was right.” But he goes on to say:
“I needed to see the bigger picture. I soon realized that I could not base my view of Christianity off of Jesus’ followers, but instead I was called to focus on Jesus himself. When I did this, my entire outlook on who he was completely changed. I realized that no Christian is perfect, and that the beauty of Jesus is his willingness to forgive us even when we mess up.”
Another reason he gave was that initially he only saw judgment coming from people who claimed to love Jesus, but explains,
“This wasn’t a true reflection of Jesus. The only picket-signs Jesus would be holding are ones that read, ‘God Loves You.’ Once again, I had to stop basing my view of Jesus off of people who claim to be Christians. There will always be bad examples, no matter the circumstance. If anything, this encourages me to be the difference.”
“To be a Christian is to be judgmental and intolerant.”
“There is no way to reconcile a good God and a screwed-up world.”
“A hypocrite is evidence that Christianity in general, and Jesus in particular, is false.”
“All churches care about is your money.”
In his follow up blog on 25 Truths about Christianity, he responds to each of the myths. In one particularly poignant paragraph, he writes,
“If you spend a day with me, I have no doubt I will fail your expectations. I am a sinful man. But that has nothing to do with Jesus. Like a middle-school garage band’s butchered cover of a Mumford and Sons song has little to do with the worth of their music, so the sin and failure of a Christ follower has little to do with Christ Himself.”
Have you ever fought against Christianity because of Christians? How do you encourage yourself, and others, to focus on Christ and the example he provides, rather than the sorry state of our own behavior as Christians?
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: February 4, 2014