“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.” Wait...what? Ghandi follows to say, “They [Christians] are so unlike your Christ.” Sadly this is, in many cases, true. The church of the Bible was known for helping and serving, but often churches today don’t seem to care about the poor and needy. Christ calls us to act like Him, yet too few Christians seem to be focused on this important factor. Too many Christians have become judgmental and hypocritical, too many Christians fail to be like Christ by spending time with the people He would have spent time with and as a result of this the world’s view of Christians has changed drastically.
If you were a woman, pregnant out of wedlock, would you feel comfortable walking into a church? Suppose you were drunk the night before, and still a little hungover, how would you feel attending a church service? Could you feel accepted coming in with your piercings, tattoos and scars? Or would you feel judged, like everyone was looking at you, because they could see your sin? Your little scarlet letter is there, burning a hole in your chest. It is a sad thing, this scarlet letter. We all have them because we “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. This simple fact is something many Christians seem to forget. They see the scars on that girl’s wrist, the needle marks on his arm, the baby in a teen’s arms, or a Gay Pride sticker on the back of someone’s car and they judge. An alternative Christian band, Casting Crowns, wrote a song called Voice of Truth that tells the sad story of so many churches:
Under the shadow of our steeple/ With all the lost and lonely people/ Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me/ Does anybody hear her?/ Can anybody see?/ She is yearning for shelter and affection/ That she never found at home/ She is searching for a hero to ride in/ To ride in and save the day/ And in walks her prince charming/ And he knows just what to say/ Momentary lapse of reason/ And she gives herself away/If judgment looms under every steeple/If lofty glances from lofty people/ Can't see past her scarlet letter/ And we've never even met her.
So many see those ‘scarlet letters’ of sin and think they are better or their sins are smaller and they haven’t screwed up that badly. They judge the sins of others and fail to recognize that their ‘small’ sins, like gossiping at the ice-cream social, white lies about where they’ve been or raised voices to their families, are just as bad in the eyes of God. It’s a shame that so many Christians forget that the only difference between these people and them is the blood of Christ and their acceptance of His love.
When Jesus came down from Heaven He spent His time with the tax collectors and thieves. He prayed for the wicked and ate with the broken and needy. He fed the poor and cared for the orphan. If he were here today with whom would he spend his time? Possibly he would spend an afternoon downtown ministering to the homeless. Maybe he would go visit the prostitutes and tell them about His love. He might go to a bar and help a drunk walk home. The drug dealers, homosexuals, pregnant girls, depressed people, the addicts and thieves... He would be with them. So why aren’t we? If Christ was with these people and He calls us to be like Him, what are we doing? Jesus called us to care for the broken, poor and needy. His heart went out to the orphan and the widow. But there is too much isolation and separation between the body of Christ and the needy people. Christians often care only for their own. Taking the phrase ‘in the world, but not of the world’ too far, many Christians fear becoming ‘of the world’ so much they are no longer in it. They spend time only with other Christians and fear that those who are not Christians are ‘bad examples’ and may ruin their faith. This is not to say Christians can’t spend time with other Christians, only that they should also spend time with people who are not believers. We should strive to be like Christ by befriending, loving and ministering to those who do not know Him. He wants us to share our time and money and homes just as He did for us, and that is what we, as Christians, should be doing.
If Christians should be acting, loving and serving like Christ then why would someone like Ghandi say that Christians act so unlike Christ? Because so often, it is true. Over the years the church has changed. In Christ’s time its focus seemed to be more on being like Jesus, caring for the poor, spreading the gospel and sharing His love. Even in the 18th and 19th centuries the church was known for helping, caring for and serving others. An example of this is hospitals. Many hospitals are named after saints, St. Mary’s or St. John’s for instance. Hospitals were started by Christians so that everyone could be cared for, not just those who could afford to call a doctor. The church was a place that many went when they needed advice, financial aid or other help. Unfortunately, many Christians seem to have lost sight of how God wants them to act. It appears that many Christians have made their goal to live as ‘good Christians’ by obeying the Ten Commandments, going to church and reading their Bibles daily. These are not bad things, but we must remember that what Christ first and foremost calls us to do is love others, just as He has loved us. As Christians have changed, the opinions non-Christians have of Christians have become more negative. In Catherine Hyde’s book Becoming Chloe (p.119) the main character, Jordan, sums this up in his comment: “Or maybe he would like me anyway. He’s a Christian, right? Christians are supposed to be good at that. Only sometimes they’re not.” It has been said that Christians are judgmental, hypocritical, holier-than-thou, Bible-flaunting and uncaring. Although this is not always completely true it is sad that any of these actions should characterize Christians at all. Christians have stopped acting like Christians, because they have stopped acting like Christ. This is a problem because it is turning people away from the Christian religion. Now we are reaping the consequences as people no longer expect acceptance by Christians, but instead fear judgment.
We have been given everything because we have been forgiven and loved. As Christians we should be the last to judge, for we have not been judged. Just as Jesus showed us mercy and forgiveness we should love and accept those around us, no matter what they have done. All sin earns a ticket to Hell. More Christians should remember lying is on the same level as sexual immorality in God’s eyes. Christians are to love, care for the poor, and accept those in need. It is sad that non-Christians should dislike Christians because of their judgmental actions, hypocrisy, and un-Christ-like mannerisms. The old saying still rings true that “actions speak louder than words”. We can be good witnesses by being like Christ. How we treat others tells more about what is in our hearts and what Christ means to us than attending church and checking off items on the ‘good Christian’ list ever could.