Beware Of The Mean Christians
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…”
See 2 Corinthians 5:20
Nobody likes to be told they can’t do something. I was the worst with this–especially when it came to Christianity. “Who do you think you are, telling me what to do?!” was how I thought. And then I’d do the opposite, just out of spite. And guess what? I was saved—although I was a rebellious Christian.
My problem was, because I hadn’t yet grown in my relationship with Jesus, or began to have my mind renewed, I didn’t really love Him. I just used Him for His saving of my soul from hell. Believe it or not, this happens a lot. I’m proof. So many of us have had our faith established by the fear of hell, rather than on the good things that come from a loving relationship with Christ. I’m here to help you get this in order.
We must stop being afraid of hell, after we accept Jesus’ forgiveness, and instead, enjoy an actual relationship with Him! How do we do this? By finally realizing our actions and attitudes don’t get us saved–either good or lack of bad–only our faith in Jesus’ forgiveness does (see Ephesians 2:8,9).
However, used to be, I was still too full of pride to understand this. That, and I needed my mind to be renewed through His God’s graceful truth. This would be the only way I’d be able to make any serious changes in my life.
Sure, my spirit was saved, but my mind, mouth, and emotions had some catching up to do. The good news is, the Holy Spirit is a good teacher, and He’s very patient with us.
***Side note: So many preachers teach that once you get saved, you will immediately change your ways, or else you aren’t really saved. That’s not necessarily true. Your SPIRIT is saved immediately, by grace through faith, but your soul and flesh need to learn how to live BY your new spirit, which is Christ in you–He is actually INFUSED with your spirit! (See Ephesians 3:16, Acts 2:17, Hebrews 13:5). For example, if you take a prostitute off the street who has been turning tricks for ten years and you give her a nice job, an apartment, and a bank account with some money in it–that won’t immediately change her THINKING. She still has that prostitute mindset. By saying her old thought process “will instantly go away” is not fair to her, and it’s a lie. She needs time to grow. Her mind has to be renewed, little by little, day by day. When we become a Christian, our faith takes our “spirits off the streets” (so to speak) and gives us a new identity–JESUS (see Galatians 2:20). But then the Holy Spirit (Jesus, in spirit form) begins to move WITHIN us, and teaches us how to live a healthy, spiritually fruitful life. Eventually we help others do the same! So be easy on yourself and give your relationship with Jesus time to mature!***
For me, I had a lot of maturing in Christ to do. Fighting was all I knew growing up, so trying to look “normal” and “behaved” was not natural for me. My upbringing was that of a nightmare: divorce, custody battles, 10 different schools, children shelters, foster homes, being abused by employees of the state–it was bad! I had to have my mind renewed, and it was not going to happen instantaneously! This is why Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (see Romans 12:2).
Once this renewing began–through my choice–a relationship with Jesus began to develop because I chose it, not because I was being forced. So for the people who I considered “mean Christians,” I just didn’t understand at that time what I was being told to do, and not to do, was actually good for me. The problem was, their delivery was very forceful.
Of course, I take full responsibility for my poor choices, but back then, huge contributions to the religious frustrations in my life were flooding in from certain Christians who were attempting to teach me right from wrong. Their approach was all wrong.
It was an approach of, “Be like me, or else.”
That won’t work. The world doesn’t want that. What they want, is Jesus. We don’t force-feed the gospel to anyone. Instead, we gotta get the world to want to get to know Jesus–not try to be “perfect like us.” Let’s try to get things in order here, please.
We haven’t earned anything. Everything we have has been given to us for free. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about me. THIS IS ABOUT JESUS! Sure, we are partners in this mission; He wants us to use our personalities, gifts, talents, time, and resources for Him, but we must always have the spotlight on Christ in us.
It’s not so much what we are saying to people, but how we are saying it.
For example, I got a guy on my Facebook friends list who is a Christian, and he really wants to post stuff about God. I’m all for that. Facebook was not simply Mark Zuckerberg’s idea, just like the telephone wasn’t Alexander Graham Bell’s idea–these were God’s ideas, which were placed in man–FOR THE ADVANCING OF THE GOSPEL TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH! (See Mark 16:15).
And now, because of all of this amazing technology, the Bible is coming true before our very eyes!
This is why we need to use whatever outlet He gives us to spread the gospel. Social media ministries are booming! We are no longer confined to a building, or sitting in front of a radio, or even having to watch a television to hear about this Good News! The gospel will soon be global in the deepest parts of this planet’s jungles, deserts, and ice-capped villages! Once this happens, Jesus is coming back! (See Matthew 24:14).
So sure, this is what we all need to do! Tell others about Jesus! But my Facebook friend’s approach to doing so, is in a non-loving, very aggressive way–not just towards non-believers, but towards other Christians as well. Even I have to keep scrolling sometimes. I’m just like, “C’mon man. Please. Start doing this in a loving manner.” His approach is wrong because it’s extremely disrespectful–it’s very self-righteous, graceless, and it makes Christianity look exclusive to do-gooders.
You see, each of us Christians are representatives of Christ. The Bible says, “we are his ambassadors,” and that, “Jesus himself is making his appeal through us” (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). So when we are not being loving, even while being truthful, we are not truly representing Jesus. Instead, we are representing ourselves.
I believe one of the reasons for this terrible heart condition is because so many Christians have been taught to hate sin with all of their might–so much so, that sin is all they see in others. Because of this self-righteous teaching, sin gets magnified and love gets minimized. It’s all down hill from there. Some preachers are just plain mean–downright ornery–so their congregations become mean and ornery as well. They’ve got truth, but no love. Any love they have is 100% conditional, based on people doing exactly what they want them to do.
Jesus doesn’t do that, so we shouldn’t either. Just imagine if He did?! We’d all be doomed! So our spiritually organic life-change will come, but only if we are focused on God’s great love for us in Christ–not on our hate of sin.
Try to remember…Christianity is about…relationship…What kind of relationship’s love is based on perfect behavior? Not any good one. Not any intimate one, or healthy one. The best relationships are based on grace, mercy, giving, and forgiveness. That’s the same kind of relationship Christ wants with you!
Jesus is not looking for a religion with you, but instead, a relationship with you. One that is loving, spiritually fruitful, contagious, and prosperous!
What’s most sad about these religious Christians is that although they are bounty-hunters of sin, they have sin of their own which they overlook and belittle each day. They have ignored unconfessed sins which float away into the rear-view mirror of their lives, never to be talked about again. They act as if those particular sins are “no big deal”–yet at the same time, the sins of the gays, drunks, non-tithers, and drug addicts are so much worse.
They say such garbage as, “God will only save you if you’ve truly repented of every sin!” But that’s wrong. They self-righteously have it out of order.
The correct order is, “Because God has truly saved you, for free, by grace through faith—repent of wrong attitudes and actions to show Him how much you appreciate that. Begin to let Jesus live through you, because He is your true identity. When you sin, that’s not even who you are inside any longer. It doesn’t match up. So make healthy changes, so you can get the most out of your life in Christ.
Like the Pharisees, they are spiritually blind. They don’t understand that they need to repent of their religious Christian mindset, which is sin as well.
And that word, repent, when my mind wasn’t yet renewed, was a fighting word. It was like a button the devil pushed in me, each and every time I heard it! Even now, I have to consciously think about what I’m thinking about (which needs to be love), when a graceless Christian starts barking that word at lost people.
Sometimes have to say to myself “Matt, relax. It’s just a word,” and it is! All repent really means is: Turn around. STOP, go the other way. Do a 180. Change your life. Make different choices. Go to different places. Do different things! Let Jesus come OUT of you!
We have to make people want to repent…how? Through our love and respect, and through our testimonies.
The lost (who are the people who don’t know Jesus, or why they even need to know Him) will take the gospel the wrong way if we don’t tell them about the good things that come out of repentance. And we show them these good things through our own personal testimonies! We all have a testimony!
So we must stop telling people what to do, and instead, start talking about what we’ve allowed Jesus to do through us to get us to where we’re at! We need to talk about what God has done for us through the changes we’ve made! We need to make repentance look attractive, not forceful!
We must begin to use our own lives as our worst examples, as well as our best examples! We don’t have a heaven or hell to throw anyone into! We are just like them! WE ARE! The only difference is, we are saved and changed on the inside–for free–because we’ve accepted God’s gift in Christ!
We must show them what the benefit of repentance is! Through our testimonies, we can show them what Christ-filled attitudes and actions look like. In order to be able to do this we gotta approach the lost with gentleness–not, “REPENT OR GO TO HELL! BACKSLIDERS!” Remember, we are responsible for representing Jesus. And Jesus said, “come and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (see Matthew 11:29).
…Gentle…Humble in heart…
That’s what we gotta do. That’s how we gotta be. On average, 105 people die on this planet every 60 seconds. Don’t you want to be someone who helps people–not just make it to heaven–but also live an abundant life here on earth? If you do, then show them Jesus.
When we see ourselves sliding in the wrong direction from that, we must repent of it. We need to be doing the repenting as well. Not just the world, but each of us believers anytime we find ourselves not exuding Christ.
So today, my friends, know this: Nobody wants a set of rules to live by–but, absolutely everyone wants a loving relationship. Jesus gives us that. Let’s all begin to show others our relationship with Christ, so that they will want it too.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, we want to show others who you are, and you were personified in Christ. So as we get to know Him in Spirit, give us the graceful strength we need to let others come to know Him too. Reshape our minds from the inside out, as we learn how to love others as Jesus loves us. We know you’ll do it, so thank you. In Christ’s name, amen.
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