Why is it that so many non-Christians see Christians as hateful and judgmental? We have to ask ourselves this question. The world of the internet, especially, opens up a large variety of views, but one that seems to be at the forefront is that Christians are hateful. Why is that? My answer may not be easily taken, but I believe it’s the truth: the most vocal people of the Christian world are the people who are hateful and judgmental. There are certain organizations that give all Christians a bad name. I won’t call out anyone in particular. I am not judging them. I don’t know why they act the way they do. I don’t know what causes the hatred they feel. All I know is it is not scriptural. It saddens me that Christians are so hated, not because people hate us, but because it causes them to hate Jesus, hate God, and close their ears and hearts to anything we might have to say.
The problem with organizations like the ones I mentioned above, and the people who share their thinking, is that they tend to focus on one sin as more sinful than others. Sin is sin. Anything that separates us from God is sin. This comes across as hatred of a particular group of people. Another problem that arises is that instead of sharing the Gospel with love, they spew hatred and judgment. Judgment is not ours to hand out, and Christ called us to love everyone, even our enemies.
Does God hate sin? Yes! Why? Because sin separates us from Him and we were created for fellowship with Him. Does God punish sin? Yes. He forever separates us from Himself and, in the end, we go to Hell. I’m not going to focus on sin and Hell too much here, because this is not a call to the unsaved. It’s a plea to anyone who calls themselves “Christian.”
The Bible does NOT say “Go and tell the world I hate them.” No, the Bible says “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Cor 5:18-21). If we are speaking for Christ we need to ask ourselves, would Jesus have said what I am going to say?
Paul also says in Romans 12:9-18, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
Picketing people’s funerals is not weeping with those who weep. Telling people God hates them is not blessing anyone. This is not helping anyone. It will not drive anyone to God… it will drive them away. When Jesus sent his disciples to evangelize, he sent them to share the Gospel… the work of salvation and forgiveness that was done on the Cross. This is what we are to share: Salvation through faith in the Cross of Jesus.
The great thing is that most of us don’t fall into this category. Just because a group is loud, it doesn’t mean they are many… it just means they’re loud. So, what about the rest of us? We still need to watch how we present ourselves, because we reflect our beliefs. To those on the outside, if we call ourselves Christian, we represent all Christians. Is this fair? Of course not, but it seems to be the case. So what do we do to share the love of Jesus?
First, we shouldn’t argue. Arguing is a human reaction… a stance you take when you want to prove you are right. That’s not what we are called to do. If Jesus Himself did not cause everyone on earth to believe he is the Messiah, what makes us think it’s our responsibility? Our calling is not to beat people over the head with the Gospel. We are to share our faith. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to prepare the heart of the listener, and bring about any conversion. We are not trying to prove a point through argument. “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth” (2 Tim 2:23-25).
There are three things necessary to share the Gospel in a loving manner.
1) The Holy Spirit – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
2) The Bible – “The use of the Bible is the greatest advancing weapon for Christ. The worker who knows his Bible will constantly read it for strength and apply it in dealing with the unconverted. He will not argue with men, nor talk about God’s Word, but he will explain with it, and repeatedly refer to it” (The Fundamentals).
3) Prayer – “We cannot underestimate the place and power that prayer has in winning others to Christ, prayer for others in intercession, and prayer with others since we take them individually into the very presence of God… Pray that you may be able to put yourself in their place, and be patient as well as wise with them. Pray that you may turn to the right Scripture, and use the appropriate illustrations, to help them. Pray that you may lead them to Jesus instead of talking with them about Him. Pray that they may be responsive and willing. Pray that their sins may not hinder them from giving their best selves to the consideration of this all-important subject. Pray that they may see in you that vital interest and real sincerity which will actually arouse them. Pray that their companions and surroundings may not prove a barrier or hindrance to them. Pray that you may converse with them on the essentials and not spend the time on unimportant and relative matters” (The Fundamentals).
We must keep in mind, however, that this does not guarantee success… especially immediate success. Jesus promised that we would face persecution, just as He did. He told us that to those who are perishing the Gospel is foolish. In the Gospels, Jesus told his disciples that if a town rejected them they were to wipe the dust of the town from their feet as a sign that they have left those people to their fate. Notice, he didn’t say keep reciting scripture, and telling them they are going to Hell, and what they are doing is wrong. We’re told “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Col 4:5-6).
The more I read and study the Bible, the more and more I see love, grace and mercy in its pages… and the less I see those things in the world. Even among those of us who carry the banner of Christian. So, why don’t we take it back? Let’s show the world how full of love we are because of what our God did for us! If Jesus could eat and walk with sinners without continually berating them for their sins, why can’t we? If God, through Jesus, could forgive your sins, why can’t you forgive the sins of others? After all, those sins weren’t committed against you. Share your faith, share the love of Jesus, but do it with love. There’s truth in the saying that you may be the only Jesus someone sees. How are you representing Christ? And don’t think I’m omitting myself from this. It’s something I’m working on too.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.