4.12.2012

Why Non-Christians Don’t Like Christians

For the purposes of this post, I am using the term “Christian” in the broadest sense. After all, many of those who aren’t Christians don’t understand the (significant) differences within Christianity anyway.

Generally speaking, I think there are two main reasons why a lot of people don’t find Christians to be very likable:

(1) It can be hard for people to like Christians when they don’t resemble Christ. Another way of saying that is people can’t stand it when Christians are hypocrites:

–When it turns out that famous televangelists have been cheating on their wives for years or embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from their viewers, it turns people off of Christianity.

–When Catholic priests who are supposed to be caring for the members of their parishes turn out to be pedophiles who prey on innocent children, it turns people off of Christianity.

–And perhaps a little closer to home, when Christians spend their Sundays worshipping God and the rest of the week denying Him by lifestyles of materialism, gossip, judgment, and immoral behavior, it turns people off of Christianity.

Non-Christians aren’t the only ones who are turned off by such people—God has never been pleased with people who honor Him with their lips but have hearts which are far from Him (Isaiah 29.13), and Jesus would prefer that such Christians quit pretending to follow Him and get out of the Church (Revelation 3.16)!

Mahatma Gandhi famously summed it up this way:
“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
On a fundamental level, we as Christians are supposed to resemble Christ. Certainly all Christians fail to do that from time to time, but when we do so repeatedly as a way of life, we invalidate what we claim to be most important.

(2) It can be hard for people to like Christians when they do resemble Christ. This point might be harder for some to understand, so bear with me.

When trying to peg why the world doesn’t like Christians, I think a lot of people easily identify hypocrisy in the church (after all, we hear this reason all the time) and think that the way of Christ is only unappealing to people because we fail to live it correctly.

The thing is, sometimes when we do live as Jesus calls us to, people still don’t like Christians. A good example of this today would be Tim Tebow—although he has a ton of fans, he also gets a lot of negative attention and a lot of people say terrible things about him, not because of his play, but because of his Christianity.*

It might be surprising to us that a lot of people don’t like us for living the way Christ has called us to, but it really shouldn’t, because Jesus Himself explicitly said that it would happen!
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15.18-20)
It’s hard for us to remember this sometimes, but when Jesus was on earth, a lot of people didn’t like Him at all—they disliked Him so much, in fact, that they conspired to have him killed! If we seek to exemplify Jesus in our daily lives, a lot of people won’t like us any more than they did Him.

So, if some people won’t like us if we don’t act like Christ, while others won’t like us if we do, where does that leave us? Basically, there will be people in the world who dislike us no matter what. As Christians, we need to make sure that if the world doesn’t like us, it’s because we do look like Jesus, not because we don’t.


*Certainly people criticize Tebow for his quarterback play as well (and that might even be the main source of the criticism), but some people criticize Tebow specifically for his character or his faith. All of this despite the fact that Tebow uses his fame and wealth to help those who are less fortunate, by all accounts is a genuinely nice guy, and doesn’t at all seem to be hypocritical about his faith.

8 comments:

Anonymous 4/12/12, 12:03 PM  

To me the reason Christianity is looked up on as it is today is because it seems everywhere you go someone is trying to force it down your throat. On top of that after years of being a church member i couldn't stand the bigotry and hate that really laid beneath it all. To me it felt as if the message of god was being manipulated to fit how the church saw it. Now I came here with a question and that question being, what makes Christianity real? This is a serious question and im not here to pick a fight but i want to know from someone as knowledgeable as you as to what makes Christianity the only right religion? Are the religions that existed before Christianity not legit? How can you prove they are not? I feel that because the Romans chose Christianity and began mass producing the bible, that they are responsible for where we are today! Heck i have always pondered how we can believe in something that was written and rewritten through translations by other men who could have easily tainted it. I just feel Christianity is the same as any other religion...either you join or you burn in hell. To me it seems Christians everywhere are just preaching hate.

Paul M 4/12/12, 1:09 PM  

Things I learned from geometry: Proof is a tough thing.

Things I learned from Religion: Proof is impossible.

One of the things that amazes me about Jesus' ministry is the way he constantly re-frames religion from a list of don't to a lifestyle of love (You can use that in a lesson if you want Luke).

Anonymous 4/12/12, 1:49 PM  

If hate is what is expressed in the bible, I don't know if you have really read it. In Philippians 3:18 Paul says that "for many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you EVEN WEEPING, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ". He says whose end is destruction, not because he hates them. But, because of his great faith.....it grieves him that people do not accept Jesus. Faith comes by hearing the word of God.

Some of the oldest writings we have are Chinese. Have you ever wondered where the symbols for their writtings came from. You should look it up. It will blow your mind. Their symbol for ship is a vessel with the symbol for 8 and the symbol for person. WHY would that be ship?? Ship should be large vessel with lots of people. Not boat with 8 people like Noah, his wife, their sons and sons' wives. There are many other examples. These are Chinese words. I don't know about you, but I don't associate Chinese with christian. Why would their writings contain so many bible facts?? Again, faith comes by hearing God's word. Faith isn't going to come by reading other books. "Let's read 25 books about the bible and NOT the bible"

I think it is an amazing thing that men found the dead sea scrolls in the 20th century. Probably because people were starting to think, well the bible has changed. Well, not according to what these old writings....they are almost exactly alike. Of the 166 Hebrew words from Isaiah- only 17 letters are different (letters not words).

Well to me, this is where the rubber meets the road: People don't want to be wrong or feel they are condemned!!!
So, they say things like, the bible is not consistent. It's an old book that doesn't apply to us now. Christians are the biggest hypocrites I know, muslims are way more religious than christians.
Because utimately, people want to do what THEY want to do. I will repeat my thesis statement. Faith comes by hearing the word of GOD.

So trying to say this last part like a rapper...

READ IT! yeah
READ IT! yeah
READ THAT HOLY BOOK!

Tad 4/12/12, 3:38 PM  

The Chinese character for ship is 船, which is the character 舟 "boat" along with a radical composed of 儿 "a human, a child" and 口 "mouth, an opening". That radical means "pronounce it sort of like these things." Remember, if you make claims that can be easily checked (in this case translations from Wiktionary), they will be.

Anonymous 4/12/12, 7:31 PM  

But how can that be, there was a unified language before the tower of babel. And the tower of babel did not occur till after the great flood. So there fore according to the bible Chinese would not have existed. If these individuals were confused along with having their language spoken changed i highly doubt they would have created a symbol resembling noahs ark. All though that has already been shown to be false. With the dead sea scrolls not only do the full over the bible but they also have books that were never included in the original manuscript. On top of that you have books like the book of mary that were never included!

To me there is not difference between muslims and christians. Both believe if you don't believe in what they believe then you are evil and both want everyone to believe what they believe! Heck i even know of Christian extremists that would kill in the name of God. Sadly i have even seen videos of foreign country Christians murdering individuals who they deem witches.

To me i think there is someone out there, but i don't think Christianity is right. To me there is a lot of corruption in the religion, from giving up 10% of earnings to even membership fees at the larger churches. I ask my self, what kind of people would a god want to demonize individuals for their choices, for who they are. What kind of God would want his men to demoralize women by not allowing them to preach or be humans and make decisions. But i have read the bible, its been some time but i have read it, along with the book of the dead, several books on Buddhism, the Qur'an and the teachings of Confucius. I will say with the book of the dead and the bible i noticed a lot of similarities that led me to question things. Add the alienistic sculptures and the findings that the Mesopotamian society was highly advanced and i really began to question things. But what is to be expected when you are working on a anthropology degree.

Luke 4/12/12, 9:17 PM  

Anonymous,

Thanks for the comment(s). In the future, please go ahead and sign your name. Even if it isn’t your real name, it will be less confusing in case someone else also posts as ‘Anonymous’ (as I believe has happened here). For the sake of this comment, I’ll assume that the ‘Anonymous’ of 12:03 PM and 7:31 PM are the same person, but that the ‘Anonymous’ of 1:49 PM is someone else (since he/she seems to be disagreeing with you specifically.

It will be difficult for me to adequately respond to your posts, partially because you bring up a lot of issues and questions in a stream of consciousness sort of way. I will try to briefly address your overall concerns.

First, I think it's worth pointing out that your two complaints about Christianity basically fall under the categories mentioned in my original post: (1) You complain of the “bigotry and hate” in the church, which would be an example of Christians failing to live like Christ (who wasn't hateful or a bigot), and (2) The exclusive claims made by Christians, which would be an example of Christians emulating Christ because He did make exclusive claims about Himself (however unpopular that is today).

Secondly, and Paul M hinted at this, but when you ask me things like how I can prove that Christianity is true and that other religions are not, the simple answer is that I can’t. Fundamentally, Christianity is based on faith, which inherently means that it cannot be proven.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that it is blind faith without any evidence; there is plenty. To be very brief:

(1) There is an overwhelming amount of textual evidence (manuscripts, papyri, etc.) that shows the New Testament to be remarkably accurate in its transmission from the 1st century onward. Quite literally there is no other ancient document that comes even close to the reliability of the NT. I mean this as kindly as possible, so please do not take offense, but the idea that "the Romans chose Christianity and began mass producing the bible" which was "easily tainted" is ridiculous and is simply not borne out by the facts of textual studies.

(2) As a religion, Christianity is uniquely tied to a single historical event—it lives and dies on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, this fundamental claim of Christianity is well-supported. Of course, the Bible itself claims that Jesus rose from the grave, but also, within weeks of the crucifixion of Jesus, his disciples were able to publicly proclaim in the city of his death that his tomb was empty and no one was able to say otherwise! If the body of Christ had been produced, Christianity would've been stopped dead in its tracks…but instead, it grew spread (despite organized persecution from the beginning).

(3) The Bible itself recounts how Jesus' apostles forsake Him when He is crucified. However, other than Judas, who committed suicide after betraying Jesus, and John, who died in exile, all of the other apostles were ultimately martyred (usually in terrible ways) for preaching a resurrected Christ. If they new the resurrection to be false (and they certainly would have), why would they die for it? It brought them no fame or fortune. The idea that so many men would give their lives for a lie when there was nothing to be gained is unthinkable.

There are other things that could be mentioned—archaeological evidence, prophecy from Scripture, the unity of the Bible itself, the history of Israel, the history of the Church, the effect upon individual people, etc.—but this post has gone on too long.

All of that to say this: I can't prove my faith…because then it wouldn't be faith! But it's not blind faith. You don't have to park your brain to be a thoughtful Christian. There's plenty of evidence.

Thanks again for the comment. Sign your name next time so I know who I'm talking to!

Luke 4/12/12, 9:21 PM  

Paul M,

You’re completely correct about proving faith.

And about the other point you made, ‘re-frames’ is a great term. Because Jesus still holds His followers to a list of dos and don’ts, it’s just that the dos and don’ts are a natural outflow of loving God and our fellow man rather than an end in themselves.

Luke 4/12/12, 9:28 PM  

Anonymous 2,

Thanks for commenting (see my comment above about signing your name…it makes the discussion less confusing).

I loved your quotation of Philippians 3.18—a great verse that reminds us of how we should feel about the “enemies of the cross.”

Also, I appreciate you bring up the Dead Sea Scrolls—an amazing archaeological discovery that underscores the reliability of the Old Testament text and prophecies (I didn’t mention it above as I was primarily speaking of NT manuscripts).

I know very little about Chinese characters or ancient Chinese writings; Tad seems to have called into question at least the part about the symbol for ‘ship.’

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