1. They're right.
Unfortunately, there are many Christians who don't act very...Christian. Have you ever accidentally upset another driver, had them wave their hands (or flip the bird) angrily at you and whiz past, only to see a Jesus fish on their rear bumper? Or maybe that fish-toting vehicle is yours (or mine, *cough*)? This is just one small example, but I'm sure we can all name hundreds more.
Sadly, when some Christians demonstrate actions that oppose what they claim to believe, they give the whole lot of us a bad name. Worse, they give God a bad name. Worst, I'm pretty sure I'm one of those someones all too often.
As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to do our best to live like Him in all aspects of our lives. If we preach the gospel of love and forgiveness, we should actually love and forgive others. Our walk should match our talk.
2. They're wrong.
Often, people who aren't familiar with faith in Christ get the (incorrect) impression that all Christians think they (we) are perfect. Thus, when we fail to behave as perfect people, we prove their case. We're no better than them, our faith is no better than theirs, but because we think we are and it is - we are hypocrites. But this reasoning is false.
I don't know about you, but I don't claim to be perfect. I don't require the people around me to be perfect either. What I do claim is that Jesus Christ is perfect, and with my whole heart I want to be as like Him as I possibly can. Messing up doesn't necessarily mean I'm a hypocrite; it just means I'm human.
I love how James M. Reeves, author of Refuge: how "hospital church" ministry can change your church forever and founder/pastor of Celebration Fellowship puts it, "The church has to be a safe place for people to tell their secrets and have a safe process for people to experience spiritual and emotional healing." Reeves asserts that, rather than holding to the popular view of church as a place for "good, Christian people," we need to begin to view church as a hospital, where people of varying levels of illness and disease come to receive care.
So what are we to do? How can we, as followers of Christ, show the wold that the church isn't full of judgemental hypocrites?
I think we can:
1. Be real. We don't need pretend to be perfect, flawless, or sinless to the church crowd. We don't need to pretend to be important and successful to the world crowd. We need to be who we are - the same person - with everyone we encounter, both in front of others and behind closed doors.
Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than to pretend to be somebody and have no food. ~ Proverbs 12:9
2. Be holy. Jesus is perfect. He is holy and righteous, and His ways are true and right. We are not and cannot be as perfect as Jesus, but we can try to be like Him in as many ways as possible (and not just at church!).
Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week. ~ Alive Walker
3. Be honest. When we mess up and don't act like Jesus at all, the most Christ-like thing we can do is to confess and seek forgiveness.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ~ James5:16a
4. Be love. We need to love people. Loving others means being kind to them, welcoming them, accepting them without trying to change them. Our job is not to point out for others their sinful ways. Our job is to point them to Christ. He'll take care of their hearts.
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." ~ Tolstoy
Basically, we need to be people of integrity. What we do should live up to what we say. And
What do you think?