Many people imagine they despise Christianity when they are merely rejecting aspects of ‘Churchianity’ that Jesus himself would reject.
Jesus denounced religious hypocrites. So if hypocrisy turns your stomach, you might be Christlike, but to make this claim stick you must have Jesus’ attitude to hypocrites: he forgave them.
People can deeply hurt us, and if they happen to call themselves Christians it could turn us off Jesus for life. Emotionally, this is perfectly understandable, though of course it pales under the light of rational thought. If Jesus’ extraordinary claims are true, however, this matter is more important than life itself. The consequences of ignoring him are too catastrophic and the implications of responding to him are too stupendous to let emotions swindle us.
A major theme in Jesus’ teaching (it’s even in the Lord’s prayer) is that we can enjoy the wondrous transformation that God’s forgiveness brings, only to the degree that we are willing to forgive people who have hurt us. (Matthew 6:12,14-15; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26) Jumping over the moon would be easier than forgiving some people, but if we come to Christ with sincerity, he will work the miracle of liberating us from the bondage of bitterness and empower us to forgive the unforgivable.
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Hypocrites are people who claim to be morally better than they really are. Authentic Christians claim to be so bad that they deserve to be sentenced to hell forever. Are you saying they are even worse than that?
Christians are people who consider themselves such moral failures that they have come to Jesus for help and forgiveness. Making it spiritually depends not on how popular or nice we are, but how much we want God to rule our life and change us. Whether it be through quirks of nature or upbringing or whatever, becoming likable is harder for some of us. What matters most, however, is not where we are now, but where we are headed. Though they may have started far behind many non-Christians, people who have opened their lives to Jesus, have commenced a spiritual journey that will end in divine moral perfection in the next life. This, they insist, will not result from their own efforts, but from an utterly undeserved miracle of God – a miracle freely available to anyone who dares ask Jesus for it.
Not realizing that genuine Christians have such a low view of their own morality, we attack them. What drives us to despise Christians is not unkindness so much as a desperate attempt to drown the shrieks of our own conscience. A favorite, rarely conscious, technique to silence a suppressed but nagging conscience is to muddy the name of anyone who might give the appearance of being morally better than us.
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Would you criticize hospitals for being filled with sick people? When Christ walked this planet, one of the most frequent criticisms he faced was that sinners were drawn to him like drought-stricken animals to water. Not all the unsavory characters milling around Jesus let him deliver them from their sin-sickness, but they sensed that in him was something their aching consciences desperately needed. The more Christ-like a church is, the more it attracts such people.
Jesus chose his twelve disciples and loved them unreservedly, knowing that one of his supposedly closest friends, Judas, was such a hypocrite that he would arrange Jesus’ murder. The presence of the ultimate hypocrite in the midst of that inner circle has not prevented millions of people throughout the ages from becoming devoted Christians. Moreover, the leading disciple – Peter – was also a hypocrite. He vowed he would remain true to Jesus no matter what, and within hours he swore he didn’t know Jesus. Years later the apostle Paul accused Peter to his face of further hypocrisy. (Galatians 2:11-14) But Paul and other Christians were made of stronger stuff than to try using the failings of key Christians as an excuse for wavering in their own devotion to Christ. They know that to forgive is to act like Jesus. If you let a hypocrite stand between you and God, observed someone, guess who is closer to God!
Yet another response: The embarrassing thing about denouncing hypocrisy is that it is equally hypocritical to condemn those who do not follow the teachings of Christ if you do not follow the teachings of Christ yourself. And one of his most fundamental teachings is that we should take our critical eyes off the sin of others and concentrate on our own chronic need for Jesus’ forgiveness. (Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37; 18:11-14)
Although it is disturbingly easy to misjudge people’s motives, my guess is that many people become doctors for the money. If I were sick, however, I wouldn’t risk death just to make a point!
A different view: Deny, if you must, thousands of martyrs throughout history so unselfishly devout that they gave up everything for Christ, even their last drop of blood. Were everyone a fraud, you would still have no excuse for not becoming the Christian you expect others to be.
You know you are not accountable before God for the actions of others. You are accountable, however, for your own actions – and especially for your response to Christ’s offer to die in your place.
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There is no such monstrosity as a self-made person. We did not decide to be born and we can’t even design our offspring’s fingerprints. The One who made everything owns everything. Every molecule in your body and everything you have stuffed in your pockets – everything you have ever used and abused – belongs to God. And to him you must give account. And judgment will be on his terms, not ours.
With accountability comes dignity. To treat us as not responsible for our actions would be to treat us as sub-human.
16. Christians support environmental vandalism
17. Christians are bigoted, racist, sexist and homophobic
18. Religion has sparked wars and exploitation
19. Christians have a low and negative view of humanity
20. What about all those who have never heard of Jesus?