Christians and the church often fail to show God’s love to a needy, watching world. Instead of a reflection of the ever loving, gracious God, Christians are viewed as judgemental, hateful bigots. Why is this the case?
The “Them” concept
Some of the more vocal in this arena, are Christians who are clearly not loving towards those with opposing views. For example, those who stand on street corners or soap boxes with signs condemning others, those that protest at funerals, or those that hold rallies burning Korans. Here we see pretty clearly candid examples of unloving approaches despite a Christian banner. Is this it then, tied up in a bow, this set of Christians are giving the rest of us a bad name? I fear that stance may be a case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It’s easy to blame the loud wheel for drawing attention, but the view from 20 feet is that the whole cart is going astray.
“The Collective” approach
Unfortunately the sin of the Pharisee (self righteousness, being judgemental and disparaging) is alive and well in every corner of the church. There are those who cast judgement – creating a separated, insular community that is at times harder to penetrate than a fort. Often times we fail to show to others the same grace that we all gleefully lap up. Strangely enough, we frequently fail to show it to, or expect it from those within our own communities. We keep up a facade because even in our church we fear exposing our cracks. We often forget that the church is for the broken, and that none can fully accept Christ unless they are first grieved by their own sin. Because of this, we risk making church into a country club – at times deciding who is welcome, how they ought to dress, and how they ought to act. Here, yet again, I fear we’re playing hot potato. This excuse is just another case of ‘us versus them’, and perhaps an attempt at diluting individual responsibility. From this perspective we can absolve ourselves of personal blame; but do any of us really have a leg to stand on in this regard?
I, ______ an individual Christian, routinely fail to love: in my relationships, in my giving, when I am stressed, when I am hungry, when I am busy, or broke, when it’s too late, when it’s too early and on and on – countless excuses why this time, dying to self is just a bit too inconvenient.
So what do we do, now that we have identified the problem? We can stop dodging the blame, and recognize that we are guilty of failing the mark. So how do we stop sucking? By evaluating our own day to day interactions and missed opportunities, seeing our own failings. It is likely that during these times of introspection, if we obey the impulses and tuggings of the Holy Spirit, rather than those of our inherent self serving nature, we will – by God’s grace – begin to suck a little less.