When talking to people about Christianity, I often hear an objection that centers around one particular issue, Christians who live like Hell. This issue is unfortunately often the result of a number of causes, some of which include the following:
- “I used to know this guy who claimed to be Christian and he was one of the most corrupt people I’ve ever known.”
- “I’ve been stabbed in the back by every Christian I have ever known.”
- “There’s this guy I know who’s a Christian, but he tells the dirtiest jokes and uses the most crude language I’ve ever heard.”
- “This guy cut me off on the freeway who had a Jesus sticker on his car and when I caught up to him, he gave me the finger.”
- “When I was a kid, the pastor of my church cheated on his wife.”
No doubt, all these acts are ones that we Christians should hate and never have associated with us, but unfortunately, there are those who profess faith in Christ who have lived lives that have earned them these descriptions. But to the skeptic, atheist, non-believer, or all-around hater, please allow me to clear up one of the biggest misconceptions about the church that has ever existed.
Those who claim to be Christians really fall into one of two camps; what we’ll here call Un-Christians and Christian Christians.
These people may boast and claim to be Christians, but when it comes down to it they typically don’t care and aren’t trying to draw close to God in any way. These are the types who rarely read their Bible, never make time to pray, and see turning from sin as something they’ll do when they’re older and out of their ‘;party’ years. There is one word which perfectly describes who and what these people are. Liars.
I don’t say that word with any hesitation or intent to rewrite it at a later time. Simply put, if someone told you “I’m a good person,” but then two days later tried to steal your car, chances are they’re not a good person. Likewise, if someone says, “I’m a Christian,” but constantly gossips about coworkers, lies to their friends, and shoplifts from department stores, chances are they’re not a Christian.
A true faith in Christ transforms so much more than just your words; it transforms every aspect of your life.
The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for the sick. Let that statement sink deep into your cerebum until you understand it fully, or read on while I explain it. Being a Christian does not mean that we have been magically transformed into stoic human beings who never do anything wrong (But wouldn’t that be cool?). Rather, what being a Christian means is that we recognize that we are people who have broken God’s heart by breaking his commands and that as a result, we deserve death (Rom 6:23). But because God loves us so much (Jhn 3:16), he sent his son Jesus into human history to live a life free of sin and be executed as an innocent man in order to make the payment for our crimes so that we could spend eternity with him.
Let’s think about this. A man whom we’ve never met volunteered to live a life free of sin in order to show us his love for us by dying in our place so that we could spend all of eternity with him. If that alone doesn’t make you want to turn away from all the jacked up things you do, nothing will, because every sin you commit is another sin he voluntarily died for.
Before Christ’s crucifixion he emphasized this very point when he said that “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jhn 13:35) While this concept seems pretty simple, it really goes much deeper than it first appears. Loving one another covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8), and if we really do this we wont lie, steal, cheat, murder, disrespect our parents, hate others, or covet their belongings.
In conclusion, I recently heard theologian John Piper go over this issue in a way that I think was beautifully executed and sums this up well. To paraphrase he said that when we become Christians we go to war against those things in us that lead us to sin. Like most wars, there will be wins and losses - in other words, we will still sin here and there - but after each loss we can examine our weak points so that we can hopefully have victory in the next battle and with each victory we become stronger and more bold in confronting the enemy. But, if we call ourselves Christians and are not engaged in the war at all, then chances are we are not saved. Likewise, if the people you know claim to be Christians, but do not even attempt to be loving or in a fight against their sin, then maybe Christian is not the appropriate title for them.