"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:19–21
People have their reasons not to believe in the Lord and even more reasons to take issue with the faithful. I recently had some work done at my house. The gentleman who was doing the repair took notice of a cross we have prominently displayed on our wall.
We’ll call the repairman, Frank.
Frank started up a conversation about religion and felt a need to announce that he is an atheist. He went on to explain how he has a strong distaste for Christians because he has encountered too many who talked to him as if they were above him. Frank stated he was surprised by the fact that he was having a nice conversation with Christians who weren’t belittling to him for his choice.
Our first instinct was to explain that there is a difference between ‘religion’ and Christianity, but we wanted him to understand that Christians are human beings who are subject to the same faults every other person in the world has. And most importantly, not judge the perfect being of Christ by the actions of His imperfect children.
This short encounter served as a good reminder that we as Christ followers need to be mindful how we represent our faith and most importantly, how we represent the Lord. And yes, we represent the Lord because those who don’t believe in God, don’t read the Bible. They read the faithful. They read our words and our actions.
We can go to church multiple times a week. We can teach Sunday school every weekend and wrap ourselves in Christian symbols but none of that means we are Christian in our hearts and souls.
There are far too many people in the world that claim to be faithful servants of God but have appalling behavior and some actually encourage hate and violence.
These things help alienate people from the Lord. It gives non-believers further reason to despise us, to ridicule us and worst of all, we push people away from God. This can’t be, we as Christ followers have been commanded to go out and spread the good Word, to spread God’s love.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after [each other] and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26-27 NIV
So what do we do?
I believe we need to keep our ears open and allow others to share their opinions, their reasons for their disbelief. It is then we can respond, in love and kindness, sharing our beliefs and plant those seeds. It is then that the Lord can do His mighty work and change their hearts. When we don’t respond with that caring spirit, we accomplish the opposite. We encourage nonbelievers to keep their minds and hearts closed, scoring another one for the enemy.
The Lord has been amazing to me and I am fired up with passion and excitement. I want nothing more than to see more souls being won for the King of Kings but I remind myself that I have to do so with caring and understanding.
All too many times I’ve seen people fired up for the Lord but do all but sit on top of a person and beat he/she over the head with the Bible. That does not work.
Let me say it again, that does not work especially when we are confronting someone stinging from a loss of a loved one or holds some great anger against God. Badgering them with countless Bible verses won’t do anything other than alienate them.
Those are the times that others gain the impression that we believe we are above them, that we’re arrogant, and nothing more than bullies.
And as time grows closer to the end days, we see much of the Bible prophecies coming true.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Timothy 2:1-5NIV
So now more than ever, we as Christ followers need to stand together and reach out to as many people as we can sharing the grace of God but put those boxing gloves away. Always teach with caring and love.
Have you given your heart to God? Are you ready? Don’t worry, He doesn’t care where you’ve been, He only cares where you are going.