Christians - By CoauthorU Associate, Merwin Severtson
Gandhi - the spiritual and peaceful resistance leader for India at the end of British colonization - was famous for many things, but today I am referencing his paraphrased statement about becoming a Christian.
It is reported that he said that he had read the Bible and would have liked to become a Christian as a result from what he found there, but having also been exposed to Christian behavior, he decided against it.
And, really, who could blame him? I mean, seriously, just observing our collective behavior is enough to turn anyone off.
In HONESTLY looking at my own behavior, I am surprised that I have any friends at all!
I am proud, arrogant, self-righteous, and "everyone is entitled to my opinion". (Or, so reads the caption on the coffee mug one of my daughters bought me for my birthday a few years back).
And, when Christians congregate, we tend to bolster one another, causing our exorbitant self-righteousness to balloon into something extremely grotesque.
Anyone exposed to this behavior - who is not a believer, who is not desperate for God's ability to save them from a life devoted to self destruction - would rightly run in the direction of escape.
And following that line of reasoning, should we be greatly surprised by their anger? The anger that could, and often does, translate into a stumbling block and justification that vows to never approach a belief in God.
That is not to say that the persecution leveled at some Christians is our fault, but neither does it exempt us from the collective responsibility for the revulsion that it produces.
Sure, we love our brethren. We should. The Bible encourages us to "prefer the brethren".
But if you were to survey "the brethren" I think you would be greatly surprised to find out that a lot of "us" prefer non-believers to believers.
Could it be that non-believers are easier to be around, more restful?
Think about it... if this were true, why would this be? I believe the answer is simple, Jesus came to heal those that are sick. These would be those who are really messed up for a lot of reasons.
This basically translates into some really messed up lifestyles, thinking patterns, attitudes, etc. all manner of various dysfunctional syndromes, being miraculously changed both immediately and through long term processes.
Meanwhile, they have been thrust into the conformist meatgrinder of church that expects them to understand that, now their behaviors are forgiven (which they are), and they themselves, are now fixed and appropriate (which usually, they are not).
And within the confines of this assembly line, cookie cutter approach, we have the blind leading the blind, in the sense that the newbies are able to look at the old-timers for the examples of how to act, and they learned from other old timers... so on and so forth.
Through all of this, the best examples of Christian maturity are the ones that get ignored as examples simply because it is funner to follow the worst examples and after all, "...aren't they saved too?" And so the old timers that are usually "pinched" for the purpose of mentoring, are far from humble, ultra-conformists who place more importance on adherence to their particular denominational expectations (traditions)... than the grace, mercy and liberty of the Gospel.
This spiritual inheritance that is passed along to the newbies creates a new generation of "mentors" that unwaveringly expect those that they mentor to conform to the same self righteous traditions.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying!
None of this has got a thing to do with whether or not the errant old-timers are saved or whether the newbie is saved, if they believe in Christ then they are saved.
But it can have a lot to do with whether or not the angry atheist will be saved, unless the Lord can miraculously get the person past how he or she sees us behaving.
Gandhi... could not get past the (at best) problematic behavior of those who followed Christ.
The number one complaint from the atheistic ranks is that we (Christians) are extremely hypocritical.
Please be honest, do not try to defend this, or any other fruit of the flesh to them.
Yes we are hypocritical, we all are... all, humans are. And honesty, is the best approach when we are confronted with our own shortcomings, it happens to be the number one area where the ability to be humble, and the fruit of the Spirit, self control, surfaces. After all, "we overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony".
We have in our favor as our advocate, and counsel, Jesus. Tap into His honesty, His humble nature and His wisdom and represent His truth.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." If we are honest and open with our short comings we become the humble example. The one that is more capable to set the fence walking, potential believer free and set the better example for the newbie. Newbies need mature mentors and they seldom get them.