Owning It

I have close family members who don’t believe in Jesus.  In fact, they shy away from anything related to Jesus.  When I am around them, Jesus is a “taboo topic.”  Before you think Westboro Baptist Church represents all of us Christians, I am here to tell you they don’t and in my opinion, the children in the picture above do more damage to Christianity than good.

Just more fuel to the fire for my family members who don’t believe in Jesus.

I suspect my family members focus on the fact that Christians fall short.

We sometimes do.

I teach an adult Sunday school class and I try to get the class to shy away from contemporary politics because issues today are very emotional and we often don’t have enough perspective on them to really express ourselves.  When my class strays away on politics, I may hear disparaging things about Bruce Jenner [Caitlyn], the police and African-American people, poor people who live on welfare and don’t want to work etc.  You know the kinds of thoughts we all have.

Let’s just call them judgmental.

They are.

They can fall very short of the love that Jesus wants us to express.

Let’s call them self-righteous.

They are.

They can fall very short of the understanding that we need to have to really help others.

Dr. Chapman says that religion can become a “shackle of Satan” if we are not careful.

When we act like we are better than others who need our help, all we do is place distance between ourselves and others.  None of us is perfect and we need to never forget that.   Matthew 6:14-15  “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.

I am going to refer to a post from Joshua Elek’s blog, who shared his top reasons people hate Christians.

His opinions hurt but we may have to own some of his ideas.  Too often they are real and too often they are probably some of the reasons I have close family members who don’t believe in Jesus.

1.Christians have strict guidelines for living and if you don’t follow their guidelines, you will burn in hell.

2.Christians are not forgiving when non-Christians sin.  However they are often quick to forgive other Christians.

3.Christians are hypocritical.  They set the bar high yet they cannot achieve it.  It is obvious to others outside the Christian community.

4.Christians deny science.  Christians reduce all social issues down to black and white, good and bad—in short we are stupid.

5.Christians hate people who disagree with them; for example homosexuals, people who advocate freedom of choice for abortion etc.

6.Christians take themselves too seriously.  They are self-absorbed and they try not to do things that the rest of the world does because they are afraid of the spiritual repercussions [which is justified].  The problem is they tell other people how they must behave.   In reality, this throws up barriers between themselves and others, especially when they point out that others are making serious mistakes [that is, going to hell].

Mr. Elek’s opinions are extreme at times.  He admits that.  However we have to admit that they are true at times.  Anytime someone takes a broad brush and makes comments about a big group of people, they will “miss the mark” so to speak, but can you see why Dr. Chapman says that religion can become a “shackle of Satan?”

Christians can become so insulated from reality that we take our position on the throne of justice and we mete out judgments on others and those are not helpful.  What impact we can make on this world is blunted by this stance.  Instead of approaching others with love, we approach them with scorn and that is not a way to help.  That is a way to hurt.

If someone hears reports of this type of scornful behavior in the news media over and over, what happens?  They may get turned off and begin to not believe in Jesus.  If someone reads of Christian history and learns about the persecution of “heretics”, abuses by early church leaders in the quest for power, crusader wars in the name of God,  the Inquisition, American witch hunts, the southern American plantation owner’s attitude toward African-American slavery, they may get turned off and begin to not believe in Jesus.  If someone encounters “heavy-handed” Christians who have no love in their hearts and no ability to have empathy for other humans who are not like-minded, they may begin to not believe in Jesus.

Jesus did not come to earth to give us the tools to hate.  Jesus did not come to earth to give us a method to separate ourselves from others, to “disconnect.”  Jesus did not come to earth to give us a “shackle of Satan.”

He came to show us how to make the world a better place.

How will I be able to prove to my close family members that Jesus is real and He lives in me and He lives in them?  By demonstrating to them that I have what Jesus had.

An ability to love my fellow man.

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