“You’re one of the few Christians I like and respect. Although I admire your relationship with God, I’m afraid if I become a Christian, I will turn into someone who is harsh and judgmental.” These are the disheartening words said by a friend of mine on why she won’t become a Christian, and they are words that even a month later, I can’t forget.
I have to admit I understand her viewpoint. More than once lately, I’ve hesitated to say I’m a Christian, not because I’m ashamed of my faith, but because I don’t want to be associated with the other Christians who misrepresent what a follower of Christ is supposed to be. More and more, I find myself saying I’m a believer or follower of Jesus rather than use the word Christian. The reason for this is simple. We live in a day and age where rudeness and disrespect are a way of life. If someone disagrees with our opinion, then we believe it is okay to argue and prove why our view is right and the other person is wrong. People argue, badger, undermine, and are often downright rude. All one needs to do is spend a little time on social media to see what I’m talking about.
As I’ve cried out to God about what I’m supposed to do, He’s challenged me to take back the name of Christianity and show others how a Christian is supposed to act. In a culture where political, moral, and ethical debates are a part of everyday life, it is of utmost importance that believers show the rest of the world what it truly means to be a Christian. Below are some guidelines that come straight from God’s Word. We are called to be different!
- Not everything that comes to mind needs to be said. We are all entitled to our opinions, and there are times we need to speak up. However, we need to pray before opening our mouths. Saying the right thing at the right time is just as important as knowing what to say. (Psa. 39:1; John 8:1-11)
- When we do speak, we must make sure we are respectful to those we are addressing. The tone of voice and attitude of the heart is important. How we say something matters just as much as the words we speak. (Prov. 15:1; Col. 4:5-6)
- Never react in anger. It is healthy to become angry at something we see or hear occasionally. Let’s be honest. As wonderful as life can be, there are still a lot of problems in society, and it should bother us. However, more times than not, we sin in our anger when we open our mouths. Take a minute to step back and cool off. If we still feel something needs to be said once our temper has cooled down, then we will at least be more likely to say what we need to say with the proper tone of voice, rather than saying something in the heat of the moment we’ll later regret. One of my biggest frustrations the past couple of months amidst all the political debates has been seeing people use Scripture to attack those who disagree with them. God’s Word should never be used to tear people down and belittle them. Yes, we need to know God’s Word and stand on the authority of His truth. But once again, we must look at the attitude of our heart. Are we speaking because we believe we’re right and others are wrong and need to come around to our way of thinking, or are we trying to point people back to God? See the difference? When our thoughts revolve around I, me, and my, it’s usually a sign we need to be quiet and take a step back. (Prov. 14:17; Eccl. 5:6; Eph. 4:26)
- We are called to love all people, whether or not we agree with them and their beliefs. It is my personal opinion that the body of Christ fails more at this than anything else. Jesus gave us two commandments. Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second is love our neighbor as ourselves. That should be our daily prayer. Imagine how a group of Christians could change the world if they did these two things! (Matt. 22:36-40; 1 Cor. 13:1)
- Honor God in all we say and do. When we claim to be a Christian, everything we do is a representation of Christ. Most people will never step foot in a church. For many of those with whom we interact, we are the closest thing to Jesus they will ever know. Always keep that in mind, so we don’t say or do something we will later regret. (1 Cor. 11:1-3)
We live in a time where it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a Christian. As more people turn away from God, the more they need to see His love. It doesn’t matter where we stand in politics – Democrat, Republican, or something in between. Instead of debating about who should be the next president, we need to be pointing others to Jesus. That is where we should make our stand!
Honor God in all you say and do. People are watching! The question is, what do they see when they look at you?
*Further Reading: Read 1 Corinthians 2.