nonchristians-think

I consider myself a very blessed man in a number of ways. This blog has become one of my great blessings. One of the reasons I love this blog community is the variety of people who interact on it. There has been an increase in the number of people who aren’t Christians who comment on various posts. I want to share with you the perspective of one young woman on how she views Christians. These comments come directly from her comments on some of my posts. They have not been changed.

On Being Selfish, Not Really Interested in Others

I remember a rather outspoken evangelical Christian young woman I worked with – I’d just moved to town, and we went to a movie together. Each week she invited me to her church, and I didn’t want to offend her by saying “No thanks.” As it was, I had Buddhist activities one Sunday and I was mentoring a young girl two other Sundays, but that theoretically left a Sunday open. We only worked together for 3 months, and it never worked out. I went to a different job.

She showed up there one night, and jumped right to the church invite. No “Hey, how’ve you been? Haven’t seen you in a while!” Nope – just “Do you want to come to church with me this weekend?” Since I was on to her game, I decided to play. I said, “Sure, I’ll go to church with you, because I’m interested in seeing what you’re interested in. That’s what friends do, after all. And I’m sure you’ll want to come with me to a Buddhist meeting to see what I’m interested in, right?”

“Oh no!” she replied. “I just love the Lord so much!”

“Well,” I said, “then there’s no point in me going to your church because I’m not interested in either becoming a Christian or joining your church.” I never saw her again.

That’s how far Christian friendship extends – I’ve seen it over and over and over. Christians look at everyone else as if they’ve got targets painted on their foreheads. Nobody likes being hunted down or treated like someone else’s project. We don’t need to drop all our beliefs just to accept yours, and we don’t need to become more like you just to be acceptable people, worthy of being regarded as people instead of targets. Love does not seek to create clones of itself. Selfishness does.

On Being Self-centered and Judgmental

Keep your religious beliefs to yourself. If I have any interest in what you believe, I’ll ask you. And if I don’t ask you, then go right ahead and assume that your “witnessing” will be unwelcome. I’m sure that you like whatever you believe very much, and I’m very happy that you like it. However, just as your favorite flavor of ice cream is not necessarily going to be mine, I wish you would assume that I’m just as content with my own beliefs (or lack thereof) as you are with yours. Why not ask me first what *I* believe? Why not show an interest in what’s interesting to me instead of expecting me to always be interested in what YOU’RE interested in? Christians are so selfish and self-centered! Tell me – when was the last time an atheist rang your doorbell to tell you about his worldview? The reason the world hates Christians is because they behave badly, they’re rude, boorish, arrogant, conceited, full of themselves, ignorant, and judgmental. Go ahead – accuse me of being judgmental now. Doesn’t matter – I don’t claim to follow a belief system that has actual rules AGAINST being judgmental, so it’s *fine* for me to be!

On Being Unwilling to Develop True Friendships with Non-Christians

As a mother of young children in a homeschooling environment, we found ourselves surrounded by Christians. Of course, the kids would become friends and we moms would chat while they played. Without a single exception, this “acquaintanceship” only progressed to the point that I had to make it clear that no, I would not acceptjesusasmypersonalsavior, and no, I would not be attending their church. Then the Christians never called again, and I was left to explain to my sad children why their new friends wouldn’t be playing with them any more.

When my son was just 6, the boys down the street told him he was not allowed to play with them because he wasn’t a Christian. I went down to see what was going on (because my 4-yr-old daughter was going to go down there and teach those boys a lesson!) and I confirmed that what my son had reported was indeed what they’d said. And the mother of one was right out in the front yard, 25 feet from me, pretending to be very focused on trimming some plants. She never said a word.

Finally, the 6-yr-old girl across the street told my kids, ages 7 and 9, that if they weren’t Christians, they would be going to hell. She certainly learned the “Good News”. And you Christians wonder why we non-Christians avoid you?? HINT: It’s not because we’re intimidated by your awesomeness and are just sitting here, pining for you, wishing you would like us. We already know you don’t.

Your Response?

Frankly, I found these comments painfully true for many of us. Though my first reaction was one of defensiveness, the more I read them, the more I realize that this women has identified many of us Christians too clearly.

What do you think? What is your response?

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Comments

  1. Mike says

    Dr. Thom, thanks for posting these comments. I hope this sweet lady continues to interact and help us see the beam in our own eye. I too find her remarks painfully true. I feel horrible that this has been her experience.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Mike -

      The sting in her comments were the sting of truth, at least for me. My response is to repent and to ask God to give me the strength to live and love like Jesus.

    • says

      Yes I hope so too. After reading this I have had to repent. I have a sister who I have almost no relationship with because of everything discussed on this forum. She has forgiven me and we no agree to start working on a relationship again. It was Gods will for me to find this site, which was so random for me. thank you all! How do I get permission to share this post on my website please?

    • Colby Cline says

      Love breaks all barriers and love changes hearts. Love changes lives. We can’t just tell people we care about them and we want them to come to church with us, we have to act out our love. We need to meet people and understand them first. I don’t even let people know I am a Christian until we share some deep conversations about each others lives (unless they specifically ask me). We need to remember how we were when we were lost and how other Christians treated us when we came to salvation. Love changes lives.

      • Bolekwa says

        You’re missing the point. Non-Christians aren’t lost and most of us aren’t interested in your religion, even in deep conversations. In fact, it’s a sure-fire way to end that lovely deep conversation. You’re correct, LOVE changes lives, not what book someone believes in.

    • Leon says

      yes this unfortunately happened to me once but i have a few friends who are christians who keep to themselves and respect me

  2. says

    I appreciate this woman’s perspective and her words are worth pondering. Frankly, I have some non-Christian friends who I enjoy being around more than some Christians! Unbelievers who encourage me more than Believers? Yep, it happens.

    • Bolekwa says

      It’s great that you’re not rejecting people because of their religious status. But why on earth classify people as Christians and Non-Christians. Why not just classify people as individuals?

  3. Hearspeak says

    It’s a heartbreak that I would have to concede that for a people who are indeed supposed to be known by our love, we are instead so well known as people who are identified as portrayed above. I have seldom heard a non-Christian describe us favorably! Peter told us to be ready always to give an answer, but so many will never be asked anyway because of such behavior described–even if its not our behavior we are too often ‘tainted’ already.

    Certainly, God continues to be at work in His people and in the world but its in spite of us more than because of us. I’ve often told a friend of mine that if one of my unsaved friends were to fall on his face, confess his sin and proclaim his need for God, the last place I’d take him would be to church! For sure, I’d nurture and ‘disciple’ him and stir up his growth in Christ, but it would only be with fear, caution and not a little trepidation that I’d introduce him to the church world and even then, only if he insisted!

    Sad, isn’t it? But it’s a reality!

    • Thom Rainer says

      Hearspeak -

      We in our churches need a true revival of our hearts. I am too often chief among those sinners.

  4. Perry Hess says

    Very good article! One statement that jumped out at me was “Christians look at everyone else as if they’ve got targets painted on their foreheads.”
    In many Christian churches (most?) this is the predominant view. Get ‘em saved and move on.
    There are times when point-blank witnessing should be done, but for the most part we should develop relationships (real ones, regardless of the other persons idea of Christianity) and earn the right to be heard.

      • says

        I agree with Perry. Sometimes, too busy with getting new believers and moving on. Need also to take care of the current flock, while reaching out to others.
        Overall, we Christians do too much excluding of non Christians, which turns the nons away. We don’t need to shove it down their throats, but show Christ by example in the way we live.

        • Diane Conier says

          Amen amen I am a Christian…..Recently I had a BBQ for my Niece and Husband who came to visit from the UK….I invited my new next door neighbours and some friends from my work.. All were not Christians. I invited 3 Christian friends. It seems the Christian couple told my new neighbours that they where going to hell and where heathens……..I only found out a few days later when I was at work and my none Christian friend asked “WHO WHERE THOSE PEOPLE” ????? And she went on to explain that they had told my neighbours that they would go to hell and where preaching fire and brimstone. Since I was hosting 18 people on the night I,d missed what was going on…..As the week has unfolded other friends have spoken about THOSE PEOPLE and how rude they where on the night…..I am totally embarrassed at the behaviour of these fairly New Christian friends and certainly will not be inviting them to my home again……..My belief is to build relationships with people first and this can take some time, and actions speak louder than words….I feel horrible that my none Christian friends have had religion pushed down their throat….. I apologised to my neighbours for my Christian friends behaviour and they where very gracious but mentioned that HE was very rude……I realy don,t want Christians in my life like that…..I am yet to talk to this couple and tell then that they offended many people on that night….. Ahhhhhh this is NOT Christianity

    • Sarah says

      My two cents: make it very clear from the outset that this relationship is not predicated on the other party accepting Jesus, and maintain the relationship even if the change of heart never happens and you just have to come to a point where religious belief isn’t much discussed.

  5. carla says

    Sadly, as a christian I have to admit that I have experienced more rejection from christians than non christians. Unfortunately, I am also sure that I have hurt people just as much.
    I know this is not who Jesus is or what He is about. God has been talking to me about loving others and seeing them through His eyes, not mine. Thank you for posting this lady’s comments.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Carla -

      Thank you. Sometimes I think we have the “truth” part down pretty well. The “love” part, however, is sacrificial and costly. Most of us don’t want to pay the price.

    • Charles Palmer says

      After 24 years of researh and study of different religious books, which includes the Bible, my findings on Christianity is shocking. Christian behavior is non other than clear signs of a Satanic movement, and this can be proven by what is seen and what the Bible says. Christianity today is causing major damage, and there are many people suffering under the evil hands of it’s self-righteous and deadly acts. I have met fallen Christians, who’s lives will never find healing because of the great damage other christians have done to them, and many of these damaging christians were found to be church leaders. Just take an honst look at all the hurt and confusion within the so many ranks of Christianity today, then one can see how Satanic Christianity is. I do believe there is a true living God, but with christianity what I have seen and know, how can any person follow it’s Satanic ways?

  6. Charles Lord says

    The comments should help believers to understand the importance of speaking (and living) the truth “in love”. Love is more excellent than tolerance, or “live and let live”. Seems like this woman has experienced truth without love, and I am challenged and reminded by her comments to love others, and to love my neighbor has myself. Thanks for sharing her personal experiences and perspective. I add a brief story…while in seminary, we were ‘street witnessing’ and a man was offended that we were ‘trying to convert him’ and that we were judging everyone else by ‘witnessing’ to them about Jesus. He was quite angry at first, but a friend of mine asked the man to consider our motives and also how we might serve him. She said, “if you believed what we do: namely, that each human being is a sinner whose sin will be eternally judged, and yet God loves sinners and sent the Savior, and that whomever believes in Him is saved from judgement and receives God’s life… would you think it loving to not do whatever we can to share God’s invitation to life with everyone that they can?” His anger melted away right in front of me, and the conversation continued. Speaking the truth in love is more than speaking in a loving way, but really loving others. I am sorry that this woman and her family were not offered the grace of friendship and kindness, and I can understand why she is offended. Christians without love look merely religious, and if “religion” was all this was about, unbelief and unbiblical belief would still fall short of the glory of the gospel and the way of Jesus.

  7. Jerijo Cox says

    “Woe is me!” This woman’s statements are unfortunately accurate, convicting, and heart breaking. I pray God opens our eyes to these offenses and changes our hearts towards unbelievers, beginning with me.

    • kellie hewitt says

      jerijo, I disagree. Why are we surprised that our words would be offensive to nonbelievers? Jesus told us that if they hated Him, they would hate us. The words of the little girl “if you don’t believe in Jesus, you will go to hell.” are true. The Truth is often offensive and thought provoking. I’m sorry that they hurt some people and I’m sorry that sometimes -when our preacher is speaking the Word is offensive and hurts me too. It is is always upsetting to hear your faults and that no matter “how good we are” “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.

      • Chris Jones says

        Not saying that isn’t true, but you do get that those words are empty and useless, right? If the little girl (and more importantly, her parents) had said, “Jesus loves you and so do I” and her actions (and those of her parents) reflected that then lives might have been changed for eternity. “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will go to hell” is great to make us feel superior but does nothing for the person it is directed at. Actions speak louder than any words anyway, and that’s a Biblical principle.

      • M.K. says

        Some of us have the ability to say true things without being jerks. If you don’t that’s a character flaw.

        The only person in this equation who is hateful as you. It is very clear that it is much more important for you to be right than it is for you to be a good person. You want to be “hated” because being “right” and opposed strokes your ego. It lets you pretend to be the persecuted hero, when you’re just a bully with a martyr complex.

      • M.K. says

        I know I’m late to the party, but as an atheist, I have a couple of things to say.

        I can’t say even 10% of the interactions I have with Christians are positive. I actively have to hide my lack of faith at my workplace, where my co-workers are free to mention their beliefs in passing, because I don’t want to be prosthelytized to or have my ethics discussed and questioned at length. I’ve been fired from a secular daycare for declining attending church. It is emphatically unsafe to be who I am around Christians.

        When my mother died, she was Orthodox. We (my husband, who had a co-equal voice with me, and my sister) hadn’t been to her church or met her friends, most of whom were monks. We personally believe she is gone. She had left no will or money, so the cost of the funeral was on us. We waited to cremate her (unfortunately we simply could not afford to bury her) until after the service, and got special dispensation from the Bishop to cremate because he was her friend and he’d lost her. It was 100% out of compassion for them. We spent an extra $1000 to make sure she was presentable for the funeral and to cremate her later, because they kiss the body.

        Knowing this, they included psalms asking to deliver them from the unbeliever, including psalm 68, which cried to God to have our head bashed in. It wasn’t even spiteful. That’s just your holy book, that’s just what you pray for at people’s funerals. Hate’s just how you live.

        These are not atypical bad results in a see of good ones, this is how Christians treat me and mine. This is the sort of thing I can absolutely expect from either Christians, or the people Christians willingly fellowship with. They do not say it’s not OK. That is the standard you hold yourselves and others to, and I want no part of it.

        What I mostly want is for Christians to leave me alone. Not befriend me so that they can give me a message that my beliefs are not OK AFTER we’ve known one another for a while, but to leave me alone to live my life. Do not become more sophisticated in your evangelism, leave us alone. I want them to leave my gay sister alone, not beat her, not tell her she’s going to hell, leave her alone. It is clear you are either hateful, or condone hate. So, please, leave us alone. But you will not, because you are or associate with bullies, and what w

        • B.A.O. says

          After reading your post, I’m wondering if it’s partly due to the area you live in that you’ve had those experiences? Where I live, people don’t seem very tolerant of Christians and there’s a lot of gay pride. Knowing that, I can’t speak for the Christians in your area.

          WhatI will say, is people do bad things and the people who find God tend to be the ones who know they need him. Christians aren’t perfect, and anyone claims otherwise I’d deluding themselves. We are selfish, and honestly it’s easier to stick with people who understand how we think (and who we believe we’re going to see again. It’s hard to pour your heart into people when you know they’re probably be gong to the bad place when you die. Hell is not just hard for non-believers to deal with).

          I know your opinion is cemented in prior experience. All I’m really trying to get across is that we’re all coming form a very human, flawed place. It’s not being Christian that makes a person hateful.

          (Also, I’m pretty sure Psalm 68 is meant to apply to demons [think mental disorders like depression, or emotional pain like grief and sadness] nowadays rather than literal people. At least, that’s how it’s been explained to me]).

  8. says

    Spending a decade on the mission field forced me to learn the culture as an “outsider.” I’ve realized how clueless I was (and maybe still am) about relating to people who aren’t like me. It’s easy for those of us raised in Christian homes/environments to misunderstand how the rest of the world sees us and life in general. I’m learning . . . I hope.

    • Sarah says

      Keep in mind that when you’re in the United States, many if not most non-Christians were also raised in Christian homes and environments. Missions locally have got to be more challenging in many ways as those being ministered to already have a lot of varying preconceived notions about Christianity. But when it comes down to it, in local missions, a lot of the people you speak to have the same background you do.

      Even though I landed on the non-Christian end of the spectrum, I’ve had good and bad experiences with Christians. Many people have only had the bad experiences, unfortunately.

      • Salafrance Underhill says

        I used to attend Sunday School as a child, and the culture I grew up in was essentially baptist christian. I’ve always been an atheist, though, having been unsatisfied with the answers prvided by religion from a very young age. I *experimented* with prayer as a child – I read quite widely, from Norse, Greek and Roman mythology to parapsychology, to Hinduism and other religions, and I measured everything I read against what I saw of the real world. I have a close friend who’s an evangelical christian, and our friendship long predates her conversion. Essentially, I’ve thought about the religious question, and I’m not unusual for a western atheist. These days, when someone attempts to witnesss to me, I tend to see it as an attempt to subvert my hold on reality, in effect an attempt to drive me insane. I’m aware that the witness doesn’t share my perception and so I always try to be polite and sympathetic. In essence, I’m trying to communicate in this post how very different my world view is as compared with that of the would-be witness.

        It might not be flattering to you, as Christians, to understand that a proportion of the atheist community regards your belief system as insane, but it is the truth. Honestly, when I talk to Creationists, I find the experience quite scary, as I see a collection of people who are denying truths that they could verify for themselves, and as a political aim, trying to undo the hard-won achievements of Enlightenment thought.

  9. Renee says

    I came to Christ late in life (41).
    Since becoming a Christian and being involved in a church I find it highly frustrating how the “church” presses us to witness and evangelize our lost friends. I work with people now who are not saved. It is no secret that I am a Christ follower. I don’t hide it. I pray for them. On occasion I’ve had some come to me during a personal crisis and ask me to pray for them. But sometimes I feel like the church is trying to make me feel guilty because my friends are still lost. We even had a SS “program” to promote witnessing and there were charts around church so each person could log how many people they witnessed to each week. Like a competiton or something. And if you didnt participate – shame shame. If your friends die and go to hell it will be my fault because I didn’t tell them about Jesus.
    And if you hang out with them. . . What will my church friends think? Surely I’ll be ostracised from the church.
    Maybe that’s just my church though.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Renee -

      A verbal witness is absolutely necessary. The non-Christian will never hear the gospel unless we share it. But too often we fail to show Christ’s love along with His message. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Kami no Musuko says

      There’s another problem. We dislike being referred to as “lost”. We’re not lost, we’re on a different path. We have a different objective in life, different reasons, and like the path we’re on just fine. I used to be a christian. I became dissatisfied and switched to Shinto. In essence, the map I was using was unsatisfactory, so I got a new one. When people convert to a new religion, it’s because they want to. Not generally because someone told them they were lost or going to hell. That’s just insulting.

    • B Ansel says

      I have a question: How would you like it if I prayed for you to the God I believe in? I am not Christian, and I don’t push my religion on other people, but I do not use my prayers to pray for those who believe in another God and I would certainly appreciate it if those who believe in Jesus not pray to him for me. It would be the same (in my opinion) as praying to your devil to save me from my preferred beliefs.

      I think Jesus was a wonderful teacher of love, but I do not understand him as a savior or son of God. What I see are a lot of people who only see him as a savior Son of God and who completely ignore his teachings on how to treat the poor and outcasts. I have no trust in Christians who only want to hold that ticket that they believe transports them to Heaven. Leave me out of your prayers, please and I’ll do the same for you.

  10. Kim Wright says

    Great article Thom,
    I also liked the part about the “Christians look at everyone like they have a target painted on their forehead.” I don’t know why some Christians do that. But we need to remember that we could be the only living Bible some people see and witness and we need to act in love to everyone, just like Christ did. Love is the only way to win over non believers.

  11. R says

    It’s a tragedy that she is dead on. I personally think a huge majority of Christians are like this (myself included). I won’t go tracting for this reason. I think insincere evangelism can be more detrimental than a long-term waiting approach. And sadly, I have to agree with another commenter that when I do have deep converstions with non-believers, I’m not going to invite them to my church. I don’t even feel welcome there all the time, so why would I plunk an unbeliever down in the middle of it? Life is all about meaningful relationships — with God, fellowship with believers, and understanding unbelievers. If someone at church needs counsel, they don’t want their pastor to just quote scripture at them and then he’s done. No, everyone — believers and unbelievers alike — deserves to be taken seriously and to have time taken to understand them because we are dealing with the image of God.

  12. Susan says

    The guy who stepped down as president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain last month did what he called the Big Hearted Tour during his year in office. Amongst the activities he encouraged people to do was to give gifts to strangers on the street to bless them When I joined one of his teams to do that we found ourselves blessing sick kids and tired grandmothers who were caring for young children.

    He is a town centre chaplain in Peterborough. He and his helpers provide a listening ear to people. I read his blog yesterday and the fact that he was available on the street willing to talk to people meant that he was able to talk to a lady who was considering suicide that night. Rather than being suicidally desperate she had a new greater sense of how much God loved her. Sometimes he and his team of volunteers offer people a hug or give them a gift as they try to bring God’s love and God’s word into people’s lives.

    I can understand people wanting to keep themselves pure and not let darkness in but the truth is that light extinguishes darkness. Put the light on and darkness cannot survive. Are those who do not allow darkness near them so afraid of the darkness that they cannot let it near them? If so how strong do they think the light in them actually is? I am not saying willfully and disobediently go into dark places but if we are walking with Jesus His light will protect us in the dark places. Not only that but we have the ability to shine God’s light into those dark places.

  13. Bob Dowdy says

    After being in the ministry for 30 years, that the most effective way of witnessing is the show me approach instead of the tell me. People today have been churched to death, they need to see what the church, Christian, and the Gospel can do for them them and how much they care. A dear lady of a church where I was once their pastor gave the best advice on this subject that I have ever been taught, “People really don’t care what you know, they only want to know how much you care”.
    A lady visited our church a few times and then she didn’t show up for several Sundays, I ran into her on day and she began to give me several excuse why she hadn’t come. My reply to her was simple, “I am not here to beat you down for not coming, you’re a grown woman and you already know what you need to do. My job is to just tell you that we missed you and that the door is always open and you will always be welcome when you decide to come. The other issue of why you didn’t come is between you and God, that is not my job. Mine os to tell you that we love you and if you ever need us, we are just phone call away.”
    She was almost in shock,and said, “I have never been told that before, and I will return”.
    Often we see ourselves as the convector of sins, when actually we are just the mouth piece of the Gospel which say, Jesus loves all sinners (including us) and He gave his life for everyone, not to condemn the person so that there is fear or shame of entering our doors.
    As I read the gospels I see Jesus attending the physical needs before He speaks of the internal need.
    People have heard of caring we are, now they are waiting for us to show it!

  14. says

    I agree our methods need to be better, but leaving people alone is not loving.

    Atheists don’t come to your door because they don’t believe anything is wrong.

    MOST Christians are very uncomfortable witnessing, it’s selfless, not selfish, to talk with someone because you believe they are going to hell.

    “How rude, this person keeps yelling at me about trains. Leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep here on these tracks…”

    • Salafrance Underhill says

      I can certainly understand that it might be very uncomfortable for you to witness – as a technique for attracting potential followers, it seems very forced and artificial, and it renders any attempt to express real friendship towards the recipient seem insincere and not a little sinister.

      I’m an atheist, so you may be tempted to disregard my views. However, I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous attempts to witness, and I’ve never felt that any of the people who made these attempts had my interests at heart, or would offer me the basic respect of considering the possibility, however faint, that I’d put genuine thought into my position; that I might be sincere in my lack of belief.

      Try to put yourself in the shoes of your prey – I suspect that you’ll become better people for making the effort.

    • Brittni says

      As a non-Christian that came accross this while browsing how to deal with a co worker “witnessing” & looking down on uncomfortable coworkers I can relate to what this blog is about, and this is an example of why “they” think the way “they” do about you.
      This attitude that the only thing that’s correct is what you believe, and if others don’t believe it too they are going to be punnished is what makes you impossible to take seriously. You have an obsession with conformity that drives you crazy if you’re not able to get the gratification of thinking YOU caused someone to conform to YOUR beliefs & norms.
      Beliefs that became your norms because they satisfy your selfish personalities that let you really make everything feel like everything is about YOU. The whole universe of God and angels and saints are concerned about YOUR life, watching everything you do and guiding you to the most happy you could possibly be, because it’s all about YOU. Then you get so comfortably selfish that you start changing and making-up history and science to not only suit your made-up ideas, but to give you a reason to think you are superior to everyone else that disagrees with you.
      By this time, you have gotten so spoiled – because anything you wanted to be true you just made up as “God’s word” – that anyone that disagrees with you must be out to get you, or persecuting you – just like a spoiled child that doesn’t get their way.
      It never occurs to you that some people just don’t believe, or they believe slightly differently, or that your ideas of a bearded man on a cloud are ridiculous. And you actually have the audacity to dictate to a stranger his fate because you’re mad that he didn’t join hands with you and sing gleefully about how gay people are going to hell?

      • B.A.O. says

        You’re words irritate, not because they get to the heart of anything true, but because they ring of the type of atheistic condescension the internet is ripe with; also, you made a sweeping generalization, you claim that centuries old book is something we just “made up” (which means you’re either talking to people who died a long time ago or you’re convinced we have time travelers among us), and you have the AUDACITY to suggest the lot of us are gleeful about eternal suffering. I cannot get over that last one. I know there are some sick-minded people out there who are happy about it (Westboro Baptist comes to mind), but to suggest that a third of the planet wishes Hell on others…do you know what you’re suggesting? Hell is worse than the Holocaust. Hell is like…nothing I want to believe in, but I do believe in it because I don’t feel something will go away just because I refuse to believe in it. We don’t talk to strangers because we like the thought of telling strangers they’re going to Hell; we do it because we’re completely terrified that they will go there, and a word or testimoney from us might have made things turn out differently. Yes, Christians are selfish – we don’t want to live with the guilt. But you are startlingly self-centered to reduce such a huge group of people into such a small horrifying box.

  15. Sarah says

    Forgive my lengthy response, but I figure there’s room for a variety of non-Christian responses.

    On Being Selfish, Not Really Interested in Others: Upon first read, I thought that mostly it was just younger Christians being selfish due to lacking perspective, but then I read further and realized it wasn’t. I also realized I just don’t interact much with evangelical Christians any more except on a “Hey, you like that local ball club? Me too! How about that player?” level. There are some wonderful exceptions with friends who have been friends for many years, but I don’t want to really test this theory much now after having spent so many years of my youth as a target.

    On a more personal level, I wouldn’t fit in Christian churches much anyway. Is there room in churches for people in the 30-49 age group who don’t have a lovely spouse of 10-20 years and 2.5 wonderful children? There is some room for people in that age group who are divorced single parents, but that can really depend on the congregation. I don’t fit in that mold either.

    On Being Self-centered and Judgmental: In my experiences, Christians will generally ask what I believe first, but it seems that it’s generally so they know how to attack. Different approaches for different people, but it’s the same problem.

    I was talking to a Muslim friend recently and I noticed he had a Bible with him. Asking him about it, he pulled out the Bible and showed me some business cards from a group that was handing out Bibles along the sidewalk outside his mosque stating that they were interested in Christian-Islamic dialogue. I began to wonder why Muslims didn’t start standing on the sidewalk outside Christian churches on Sunday mornings with copies of the Qu’ran stating they were interested in Islamic-Christian dialogue, but that thought lasted only a moment as it was pointed out that such activities would garner police attention very quickly.

    On Being Unwilling to Develop True Friendships with Non-Christians: It’s a whole lot worse when it involves kids and lost friendships. I definitely recall telling other kids how they better accept Jesus or go to hell when I was a child.

    I’m not sure I have added anything but a few more stories.

    • Ness says

      Sarah,
      I just wanted to answer your question directly about if you would “fit in” to church. Not to be sarcastic, but yes and no. Church done in the right way usually focuses on encouraging and challenging people who are Christians. Although people from our church sometimes invite non-Christians to our church, we tend to prefer to invite them to our “small groups” because it’s at a home of one of our church members. We are able to be hospitable to our non-Christian friends at these small party-like/hang out events without making them feel like they have to go through the religious motions of worshiping a God they don’t believe in. It’s more personal and we get to treat them like they are truly are friends. Not that our non-Christian friends aren’t welcome to church (of course they are!), and if someone showed interest in attending we would definitely invite them. As to the demographic, yes, you would totally fit into OUR church. We have former homosexuals who aren’t married who are 40+. We have elderly women who attend who are widowed or their husbands aren’t believers. We have single moms. We have women who are pregnant and unwed. We have single women who are in the 30-40 range who just plain aren’t married for no reason other than they aren’t married. We have men who are widowers. We have older couples who haven’t been able to conceive. We have families that have children who have all been adopted. We have young people and old people. We have elderly couples with children who are believers and who aren’t. There are families where grandparents live at home with them and attend church with them, too. We’re a multi-racial, international church. All of these people (who are all believers) have their own sins and their own blessings that they bring to our church – and we love one another deeply. I have never experienced such a close knit family, not even in my biological family. We are blessed to have such a diverse church – and we’re in the South! I think this type of diversity is much more prevalent in northern urban areas though, so I will add that to be fair and not make it seem like all churches are like this :)
      Thank you so much for your honesty Sarah.
      PS – I’m 24 and a mom of two kids, just in case you’re curious.

  16. says

    Thom, I blame the church institution for putting us here. In high school I was in an Independent Baptist church, complete with soul winning classes and sinner-phobia. I was not taught how to be an effective witness, but rather I was educated well in separation and self-righteousness. Every Southern Baptist church I joined afterward also had a similar “save-them-at-all-cost” perspective. It is refreshing to be in a church, not SBC, that teaches truth, love, and grace but I am still unlearning all my old habits and find it hard to connect with lost people. I have learned, however, to listen and hear the perspective of the other person who is just as much made in the image of God as I am. Thanks for sharing this Thom and may this woman be blessed, if only in this life.

  17. Susan says

    Sarah my friends at church never said but I strongly suspect looking back that they prayed me out of my marriage. They all saw me hurting and some had enough contact with him to know how badly he was capable of behaving.

    I believed it was wrong but when I look at Matthew 19 it says that we are not to put aside our marriage but it does not say that that God won’t do so on our behalf. I look back at how things worked for me during that time and I have no doubt that God organized it all for me even down to providing me with somewhere else to live on the exact day that i needed it. I am a different person without having to deal with all hassle I had while married. Yes God hates divorce but sometimes He arranges it because it is the lesser of 2 evils.

    When I found out that he was divorcing me my question was Lord what do i do now. The answer was “love him” He even helped me love him. No loving father would take anyone through an experience like that and then condemn them simply on the grounds that divorce is always wrong. Divorce is not the unforgivable sin!

    I don’t know your situation but my response is to remind those who condemn you of the lady caught in adultery.No one could throw a stone because none of them were innocent enough to do so. She knew that she had misbehaved and was told not to continue doing so but she was not victimised by a sinful mob.

    Sarah there is a place for you in the church it is just that you have not found it yet. I pray that you do soon.

  18. says

    As a Southern Baptist Missionary for 18 years and an adjunct Seminary and Baptist College instructor, I taught a “PostChristian Evangelism and Ministry Course”. I focused on teaching having an open and listening discussion with our co-workers, neighbors and friends on spiritual topics. I tried to emphasize building true friendships with someone outside of most Christians “church bubble” of friends. I also taught not having a “packaged” message or response to spiritual questions and approach the friendship as a shared learning experience with the friend you’re talking with. My classes were popular with the college and seminary students, however I found almost no interest at all from current serving pastors and lay leaders. I would have 2-3 friends in my community each year I was “sharing Christ” with, which weren’t good numbers to report as a missionary. Someone remained good friends, some didn’t, some became followers of Christ, some did not, but we remained friends To hang out with “Non-Christian” friends, go to a bar to talk with a friend, to admit you didn’t and the Bible didn’t have all the answers someone was seeking was considered heretical. And eventually this was one of the reasons I was forced to resign as a missionary. So in all that, thanks very much for continuing the discussion and input of how to share the awesome love and message of Jesus Christ to restore lives and connect people personally to the God of the universe.

  19. Christiane says

    Hi TOM,
    in your story, a non-Christian meets an impatient person for sure . . . perhaps someone whose pride is involved in ‘saving’ others . . . and the non-Christian is ‘dropped’ abruptly when things don’t go as the Christian wanted them to go, a rather immature behavior at best.

    I was thinking how differently a non-Christian would react to someone who showed the fruit of the Holy Spirit ?

    • Christiane says

      Some food for thought:

      “It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
      The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
      We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
      Nothing we do is complete,
      which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
      No statement says all that could be said.
      No prayer fully expresses our faith.
      No confession brings perfection.
      No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
      No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
      No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
      This is what we are about.
      We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
      We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
      We lay foundations that will need further development.
      We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
      We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
      This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
      It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
      an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
      We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
      We are workers, not master builders;
      ministers, not messiahs.
      We are prophets of a future not our own.” (O. Romero)

  20. Ed says

    We have to remember and never never forget as Christians that God chose us not we Him. I am continually blown away by the mercy of God, and only pray that others can come to know it as I have. On my best day and at my best moment apart from Him my righteousness is a pile of filthy rags. I pray that God will give me the friends that I need so that I can learn through interacting with them the things that I need to learn. If He gives me a friend either Christian or not I pray that I will value their friendship as a gift from Him. God works sovereignly through people to teach us things whether they be Christian or not. We just need to have the wisdom to know where we need to keep the healthy boundaries in relationships so we clean interact without controlilng the other person, and respecting their freedom to be who they are.

  21. says

    Greetings, Thom
    First I just want to say, my husband is a FT Pastor, and a friend of mine shared your site with me, I love it, I brought your book ” Becoming a Church Member” all I can say is WOW! I did not come from a Christian Home but became a Born Again Believer at age 11 and been in Church ever since that day. ( I am now 55 yrs old) have been member of 7 churches since that time and only left due to relocation , but I have never been explained about the “why of church membership and exactly what my responsibilities were.. I told my husband I was so “convicted” about what it means to be a church member, that I wanted to join the church again! lol.
    now to the comment to “what the unsaved thing of us believers” It is difficult for the unsaved to understand the blessed hope that is within us, not are we only commission to spread the Gospel we are to …Go Ye Therefore into all the world. It is like having the cure for Cancer, and seeing people with Cancer suffering and dying when you have the cure to bring about their full recovery, why would they want to reject it? but honestly I think if I did have the cure, and would try to share it passionately with a loved one, or friend, they would reject that too!!! they wouldn’t believe that I held that cure. I can’t speak with the Christian’s in the above comments, and it is only from a one way perspective, Heb 4:12 reminds us that his Word is going to be offensive, and as believer’s what we hold to be biblical and true will be offensive to others. We all know that they are some believer’s that I would call over the top and do stupid things. shame on them, but they are in my opinion a small minority PTL. It just is a reminder to myself to be a Friend, and I would love for others to just see Christ in Me! that they would just have to ask about that Blessed Hope!!

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thank you Elizabeth. I’m not sure how many rude and selfish Christians there are. I do know, however, that they are noticed by the non-Christian world.

  22. Josh says

    I just finished my second degree at a Baptist seminary. I’m pretty convinced that this pattern is reinforced from the top down (i.e., from pulpit to pew). So many of my colleagues at seminary aren’t capable of having a normal conversation with someone who isn’t a Chrisitian. They are uncomfortable in places where they are “outnumbered.” I’d love to see an assignment in evangelism class where each student is required to go to a coffee shop or (yikes) a pub and meet someone, and be required to not talk about politics, philosophy, morality, or the gospel for the entire conversation. They’d be required to learn to talk to normal people the way normal people talk. Sports, their kids, their own school classes, etc. As it is, we are a bit more monastic in our presence than I think is helpful.

    • says

      Hey Josh,
      What you suggest is exactly what I taught and gave assignments for in the evangelism class I taught at a Baptist seminary. Congrats on your degree and God’s goodness to you in serving those around you!

      • Josh says

        Steve,
        That’s really awesome. I’d love to hear stories about how that went for your students, and a graph showing the difference in the average number of syllables in the words they used when they weren’t talking about theology.

    • Susan says

      One of the challenges the minister (the aforementioned city centre chaplain and recent president of BUGB) gave the evangelistic team was take the money he gave them and go into that betting shop over there and put a bet on a horse. It did not matter which horse as long as the race ended before the group disbanded for the day. One of the team said there is no way that I could do that. I have never been in a betting shop in my life and I do not want to start now. She was persuaded to have a go and see what happened.

      She felt as if she was going into an alien world Surrounded by people who knew what they were doing when she did not. An alien world where people had different values and attitudes to hers. She had to be helped and guided to follow the normal procedure.Yes she won and gave away the winnings to bless others.

      She learned some very important lessons from this experience. She realised that for those in the betting shop the experience of church must also be like coming into an alien environment.They too would experience the different in values and attitudes. They too would need to be guided to follow a procedure in order to fit in with others.

      She experienced a little of what it is like to go out into the world. We are called to go out into the world not sit and wait for them to come to us. Even those who live in the same community can have a very different life experience. Some can read others cannot, no I am not joking either.The lady who set up an advice project near here reckons that 40% of her clients are functionally illiterate. I knew it was an issue but not that it was so big an issue.

      The world of business marketing has a lot to teach us how to “sell” our message. The aim is to meet the needs of others and profit from doing so. When we meet the needs of others we profit from the church growing. The question becomes how do the prospective customers know that the business can meet their needs. They use the language and the colours and the mannerisms that show that they can meet that need. They show the benefits of what they offer to a group of people they are connecting with. Like Paul they become like some so that they can win them over.

      They talk about building relationship with prospects. We walk about building relationships with those on the fringe or as some call them people of peace. They know that closing the door in the face of a customer will only alienate them. They talk about the idea of starting by helping customers get to know you and then move on to liking you before they can finally trust you and accept what you have to offer. .

      See what I mean we have a lot that we can learn from the business world. They are constantly looking around to see what people are hungry for and then feeding them on stuff that sometimes is indescribably bad If we know what people are hungry and thirsty for then we can develop good food that truly satisfies their hunger. To continue the metaphor it needs to be presented in an appetizing way, well packaged and possibly making tasters or samples available.

      Help I have started preaching to myself! I

      (I describe myself as an online educator and transformation guide on my Google+ profile. My desire is to find ways of feeding people good stuff.)

  23. darb says

    First I want to thank you for posting this, for being forthcoming and for all the encouraging comments.

    I use the moniker darb because I live in the heart of the bible belt and am concerned about repercussions of being a public atheist. We are, after all, the most reviled groups in America, even behind Muslims. I am concerned about hiring bias. I am concerned about downsizing bias. I am concerned about my children being ostracized or bullied. I am concerned because I have seen it happen.

    It is SO refreshing to hear the accepting attitudes I hear in these comments. I only wish I could be assured that these were majority attitudes amongst Christians. I wish that good folks like you would speak out against those who would discriminate against me. I wish I could be myself without fearing proselytizing, condescension or worse. After all, we are all just humans trying to make our way in this uncertain world.

    To be clear my atheism is personnel and should be of NO concern to you. However, we do have one thing in common, even if you don’t realize it. We both want our country to be great and one of the great things about our country is that is it a secular state. THAT is what is important to me. I have much trouble getting the Christians I run across to understand this but a secular nation is in ALL of our best interest. All you have to do is look at some of the theocratic countries in the Middle East to see how majority Muslim states persecute minority religions. It has happened many times in this country where one Christian sect persecuted another Christian sect. That is what happens when religious power is the same as the political power.

    Let’s start with what we have in common, not what our differences are.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Welcome to the conversation Darb. I hope you will have the opportunity to meet some of the Christians represented by the commenters. We often do a lousy job demonstrating the Christ in whom we believe. Feel free to engage me at anytime. I would love to hear from you. Hopefully I would listen well.

  24. Laurie Anstead says

    This is a sad truth.. and very convicting. I think we should remember that all of us were once non-believers. and people are people. not projects.. we can’t walk around saying we care and we love everyone just because we’re suppose to. that kind of love can only come from encountering Jesus on a daily basis… wake up church! Unfortunately there would probably be more christians if it weren’t for some Christians.

  25. says

    Sad but so so often true. Completely true. Yet, she reads your blog. Hmm… Interesting to ponder why. Anyways, John has co-workers who, while yes, most everyone knows he is a Christian, he never ever really talks about faith with. I have a good friend, who of course knows I go to church on Sundays, I never ever talk faith with. I don’t have the relationship capital to do so, and it doesn’t ever come up naturally. I have wondered, when life for all of us is all said and done, will my friend and John’s co-workers shake their fists at us and demand to know why we weren’t more outspoken and pushy about Jesus because He is the most important thing. Do we minor on only the minors? How do we genuinely, with true love, share our faith with our friends and family? I grew up in the era of EE and the Roman’s Road. Great programs and methods, but rarely relational. I try not to seek relationships based on a person’s need for Christ or lack of one. I try to just have friends. I pray for them. I pray that the opportunity to speak will come. Until then, I just love. Funny thing though, one of John’s co-workers was let go. It was a long time in the making. He was a very contentious man to deal with, and John had gone round and round with him many times. Yet, on his last day, John stopped by to wish him well. The man spent the next hour telling John how much he admired him, and that his consistent love for others and lifestyle choices made him want to be a better person and to realize that faith can make a difference. He said John was the most “real” person he had ever met. He thanked John for showing him that Jesus might actually be worth considering. John had no idea he had made that type of impact. That coworker is now investigating Christ. God works, even when we keep our mouths shut. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that love means investing authentically in others. Amy

  26. says

    Hello, Dr. Rainer,

    I must say the thought that came to my mind as I was reading this was, ok, so this young woman didn’t like the way Christians behave, which is too bad. But why on earth would I let a non-Christian tell me how to be a Christian?

    The fact is, we are supposed to share our faith as much as we can, and if this woman doesn’t like it, fine, but that doesn’t mean we should stop because she says so. And I guess she doesn’t like the fact that Christians are wary to build a close bond with a lost person, again, I can see why she doesn’t like it, but the Bible says that we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. And consider the churches you’ve pastored, would you have ever told your members to form close bonds with unbelievers? Maybe you would, but I doubt it.

    I wish this weren’t the case, but the Bible tells us that the world hates Christ, and that hatred will be felt by us. Matthew 10:22

    Dr. Rainer, this has become my favorite blog, and your podcast is the one I look forward to more than all others, but if the point of this post is that we should follow this woman’s advice, I couldn’t disagree more.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Tom -

      The point of the post is not to agree, but to listen. That is the purpose of contextualization as advocated by the Apostle Paul. That is why missionaries are trained before they go — to understand the culture they seek to evangelize.

      Blessings friend.

    • Patty says

      Mr. Estes, with all due respect, you sound a bit defensive in your response…and honestly, I felt myself feeling a bit defensive when I started reading her comments, but she’s right. Too many times we as Christians witness because it’s “what we’re supposed to do”…not out of an overflow of the love and grace we’ve been given. If we truly share out of a heart that is overflowing with the love of Jesus…we won’t be so concerned about whether they “pray a prayer”…we will share and they may or may not hear…but God is ultimately the one who gives salvation, not us. When we truly grasp that…pride ceases to be a part of our witnessing.

  27. Danita Hill says

    I am married to a non believer
    We’ve been happily married for 28 years and although I have prayed for him every day for years my efforts to love him through Christ have continually been hampered by the church family.
    They mean well but after several very uncomfortable situations in a church setting he no longer wishes to attend any church events with me.
    It’s important that we as Christians recognize that Jesus is a relational loving Savior.
    Evangelism is as much about loving someone even when it’s hard or they are different or they don’t believe like we do as it is about telling the story of Christs Love for us.

  28. Eric says

    Thank you for this post Dr. Rainer. It is fortuitous timing because I began to see that my own personal evangelism was not serving God, but serving myself. It became quota-oriented goals, not an interest in the person. This attitude revealed that evangelism was merely works based; something to add to my own resume, rather than adding someone to the Kingdom. In speaking with other believers, they reflected the same sentiment. The basis for our witness should be founded on a love for people and love for God. Unfortunately, this type of evangelism is taught in SBC seminaries and pulpits; although, I don’t want to place the entire blame on one party. However, the pendulum should not swing to the other side and we completely abandon evangelism, which is the common tendency. Effective witnessing should be very personal and relational. I’m sure you remember when Penn Jillette (the illusionist from Penn & Teller) advocated for “proselytizing” because it was consistent with one’s beliefs and worldviews even though he is an atheist. And the account he gave of an audience member who passed on a Bible after a show was highly personal and intimate. Penn respected the Christian because he 1.) lived according to his beliefs and 2.) demonstrated respect and concern for Penn. I believe churches have emphasized the former and completely omitted the latter. This oversight has led to impersonal evangelism.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Eric -

      Great word. My favorite quote from you: “The basis for our witness should be founded on a love for people and love for God.”

    • Salafrance Underhill says

      This is very much how I tend to perceive approaches from would-be witnesses. I’ve read several posts in which people (believers) have expressed the desire to witness through ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ and I’d personally have a lot more respect for someone whose life expressed the spirit of their religious belief as opposed to attempting to fill that quota. The Christians I’ve remembered with fondness were those who actually cared about other people; the ones who appeared to express the legalistic, judgemental and relentless and cultish urge to convert were, honestly, kind of a pain in the ass. Not people I respected or would want know.

      • Thom Rainer says

        Salafrance -

        I would love to interview you for this blog. We Christians could learn much from you. Are you open?

        • Salafrance Underhill says

          Hi Thom,

          Thank you for expressing an interest in my views. I’d be inclined to politely question your assertion that you could learn from me, though. I suspect that I share many of my attitudes with those of a sizeable subset of the atheist population, but in other respects I’m not very typical of the rest of the human race. I’m actually very introverted, and view myself as a witness to the bustle of human activity rather than a direct participant. Whilst I care deeply about the fate of the human race, I don’t see myself as having much part in it, or any power to change things for the better. Also, people need to share a sizeable conceptual landscape for mutual communication to be possible – I honestly think I’m just too different for my world view to make much sense to the majority of people.

          Kind regards,

          S.

          • Thom Rainer says

            S -

            I respectfully disagree with your assessment of your potential contribution, but I certainly respect your decision to decline the interview. I will run a post tomorrow that has excerpts of comments from non-Christians. One of the excerpts is yours, but I am not providing names.

            Let me thank you for your willingness to engage us evangelical Christians. I know we seem like a strange lot, and most of us are. I do hope you will have the opportunity to meet more Christians who actually act like the teachings of Christ.

  29. Stacy Crawford says

    Could it be that we are so unprepared to defend our faith and beliefs that we close ourselves off from conversations about others’ beliefs out of fear? That’s certainly not our calling! What has happened to us as the body of Christ being the proof of His love?

    Btw, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I sang in the choir at First Baptist Church Mt. Washington when you were the interim. I enjoyed your time with us and enjoy following your tweets!

    • Thom Rainer says

      Hey Stacy -

      FBC Mt. Washington was a blessing for me, not the least of which was my oldest son finding his wife there!

  30. says

    I see this as a partial problem of people thinking that sharing the Gospel equates to inviting someone to Church. James Boccardo has a great book called, “Unsilenced,” perfect for jr. highers all the way to college profs, on sharing the Gospel. In a few words, *you* share the Gospel, have apologetics in your back pocket if needed, then get back to the Gospel!

  31. says

    Wow. I often fall very short in this area, but do have a few things on my heart regarding the topic.

    Sincere relationships are what gives us permission to exhort and build each other up in love and to share the wonders and mysteries of the gospel with unbelievers.

    When I get confused about what the bible expects of me regarding righteousness or about where and with whom I should be spending my time, I “run to the red ink”.

    Jesus got the most grief about forming relationships with sinners and tax collectors. In fact, a couple of the very few times it is recorded that he was angry and made harsh comments, he spoke to this very issue.

    The church has placed itself before and above the very people it is supposed to be ministering to. That sounds like a wild generalization, I know. Sure, there are glimmers of hope here and there; but overall, how are we doing in Western Europe and North America? And, what are we going to do about it?

    When we avoid forming authentic relationships with the people God places in front of us, we cheapen the value of Jesus’ sacrifice. When we fail to be a friend to those who need the ultimate Friend, we are silently agreeing with those who stand in opposition to Christ.

    We can do this Church! Let’s start today. Invite someone over for pizza. Help a neighbor with their yard work. (insert your idea here). Nothing heavy, just “show” some Christ like love without judgement, hesitation or reservation. I promise, though it’s not my promise to give, that over time God will create an opportunity for you to point to Jesus and the cross.

    “You” are the light of the world……
    Matthew 5:14

  32. Jared says

    Thank you, Dr. Rainer. This post could not have come at a better time. I recently stepped into a new ministry and noticed that my students, for the most part, have grown up in church with the same people surrounding them their entire lives. They hang together at church, at school, and everywhere else. Most of them do not know any unbelievers. We are beginning a series on the Great Commission and some portions of Acts. This post will be helpful to me as I prepare to communicate what it means to live missionally with love and wisdom toward those outside of the faith.

  33. Kyndra says

    This definitely made me think more about my motive in sharing more than anything. There is danger too in being paralyzed by fear of rejection, not wanting to impose, and being worried about offending. We have to remember that there will be times when we love and build relationships with our unbelieving friends and they may still reject us and our invitation. They may still feel imposed upon and offended. It isn’t only the self-righteous, poorly timed evangelistic attempts that get this response. I read a stat that said %80 of unbelievers say they would go to church if they were just invited. I found this article challenging and helpful, but I still wonder if our problem is not about offending when we evangelize, but rather not evangelizing because we are worried of offending. Both failures are rooted in loving ourselves more than we love our lost neighbor.

  34. Craig says

    Not surprising in the least. As a pastor seeking reconciliation with a family in the church who was irate towards me for confronting a longstanding deacon for creating factions and division in the church, they refused a reconciliation meeting, threatened my job, and threatened to physically abuse me in a Christlike manner if I didn’t leave their property…no kidding! How’s that for brotherly love?

  35. Mike Towers says

    Can I judge every atheist as mean, self-righteous and hateful because of the one I met that was like that, too?
    I’m sorry there are bad example, misguided people who call themselves “Christians.”
    We shouldn’t let non-believers and bad example Christians prevent us from sharing the gospel.
    That being said, our witness will be more effective if people truly know we truly care about them. While the most important thing in our minds is their salvation, it’s not the most important thing to those who are lost. Why? Because they are spiritually dead. Jesus loved us as we were. We are called to be like Him. I think that includes His love for the lost also.
    Good thoughts to reflect on.

    • B Ansel says

      You know, I’ve read almost this entire page of comments and after having done so, I’m curious about why Christians in the developed nations feel that they need to go so thoroughly over this same territory over and over again.

      Jesus stated about 2000 years ago that he would return when the sheep are gathered (he also said he only came for “the lost sheep of Israel”, to me that means the Jews, not Christians). Jews don’t proselytize and they certainly don’t look for converts. They do offer conversion (in many synagogues, not all) for those who wish to become members of their faith, but, they do not go seeking new adherents. I am curious why Christians, who wouldn’t have their New Testament without the existence of the “Old” (or as I call it, Original) Testament feel the need to convert when the religion their book is based on didn’t? The Christian religion has so many more adherents than the Jewish faith. If Christians would spend half the time actually living the message of Jesus and not trying to push his “saving” abilities on others, I’d have more respect for them.

      The “save them” game is about numbers and perpetuation of the church and it’s coffers, not about anything else. Christians will say it’s about saving non-believers from the pit, but that is a message that is warned against in the “ORIGINAL” Testament. (See “Fear, the Pit and the Snare” in Isaiah 24, and for more about the church coffers, go a little further back and start at the beginning of Isaiah 24).

      The church leaders are the ones who have dealt treacherously. They have made a business out of religious churches. They have scammed people into giving them money for a make believe story.

      The fear of the pit is what makes someone stumble and end up “taken”. I don’t need anyone to tell me about a pit that was invented by a religion that wrote a book based on an already existing book written for an already existing religion who doesn’t believe in Hell.

      Why the Christians writers thought it would be a good idea to attach their NEW Testament to a book about Judaism is pure arrogance in my opinion. Christians state their religion supplants the “old” religion. What audacity!

      Why don’t you just learn to live with those Samaritans rather than try to convert them? The world has already been so thoroughly gone over for Jesus that it is starting to look like Jesus’ arrival is overdue. Of course, Jesus was hung on a tree, and that means he was cursed. He’s never coming back.

      Yeah, I guess the things I say are rather harsh. The fact is, I’ve had numerous attempts to convert me and my children (against my knowledge) and I don’t think there’s much that can make me more angry than meddlesome worshipers of Satan telling my children that they need his “religion”. Leave my children alone.

      I wonder how you all would feel if I targeted you for my beliefs? You’re lucky that my beliefs don’t require me to try and convert you.

      Jesus stated (in Matthew 25) that when (if) he were to come back, he’d separate the sheep from the goats and he would take the sheep to Heaven. The requirement for one to be sheep and not goats was to live the message of Jesus’ Gospel, to tend to the poor, the sick, the downtrodden… to do “for the least of these”. He said nothing about converting others to his church. You are the ones who are “LOST”, not me.

  36. Steve says

    Honestly, I’d rather have my people annoying non-Christians with constant church invitations rather than assuming that they will never believe. The main thing here is that we need to be willing to have a dialogue and try to understand and really love non-Christians. But we need to get to the gospel at some point, and those who would not turn to Christ will not like it, and that’s OK.

    • Salafrance Underhill says

      Have you considered the possibility that you might alienate more people than you could ever possibly ‘save’ by adopting this strategy?

  37. Brent says

    This was a great read. The comments you highlighted pretty much sum up why I quit the ministry and simply can’t do “institutional religion” anymore. Why? Because at the end of the day, an institution has only one real mission: self-preservation. All other proclaimed organizational “visions” or “mission statements” ultimately take a backseat to this need. The result is a warped theology that speaks to all the wonderful ideals we think should be a “no-brainer” for people to embrace, but in practice leads to exactly the dynamics described here. Thanks.

  38. Truth Unites... and Divides says

    What Do Non-Christians Really Think of Us?

    Hence, a good reason to have seeker-sensitive churches.

  39. John Newland says

    The tension between our responsibility to witness and being holy is difficult to navigate for modern American Christians. Even as a pastor, I wrestle with how much I hang out with unbelievers in social situations, especially those where unchristian practices are prominent, and how aggressive I should be in sharing my faith. Loving on people and waiting for someone to ask me about my faith has never produced any real results, but neither has aggressive witnessing. The command to witness must be obeyed, so must the command to be holy.

    Even with our best and most careful efforts, I’m resigned to not be surprised when “the world hates” us. Jesus warned us that they would, but we must patiently, thoughtfully, obediently endure.

  40. Lew Halstead says

    There are really two sides to the coin here, the Christian behavior and the non-Christian response.

    Jesus is a tough sell, we’ve got to stop “selling” him. No doubt our presentation is flawed even by the best of us. We must always be sharpening the pencil. Our point of view, that all are created in the same image of the same God along with what Paul emphasized that when Christ died we ALL died and the only difference is that we received the “good news” and the other did not, needs to come to the forefront to change our behavior. Humility goes a long way in communicating love.

    The other side of the coin, I have found lately, is a resurgence of the Cain vs Abel conspiracy. The entirety of scripture has a point made that our identity is wrapped up in what we sacrifice. God made it clear that when we identify with the sacrificed beasts (lamb, bull, etc.) whatever issue they may be pertaining to, the issue is dealt with, between us and Him in accordance to what happened to the said “beast.” The 1st example was following the first couple’s fall. Later, when Cain “saw” God’s favor on Abel’s sacrifice, it wasn’t that just “what” was sacrificed was better, it was whose identity was wrapped up in that sacrifice was better. Cain detested the idea that Abel was better than himself. The truth was that Abel WAS BETTER, not because of behavior, family origin, financial status, race or anthing else – no other competition existed. Abel was better because what he brought to be sacrificed was HIMSELF, the sacrifice was what he identified with. Cain killed Abel because Abel was better than him.

    We point to Jesus and we say (like Abel), “That is me.” The world points to ANYTHING ELSE and says (like Cain), “That is me.” Due to the favor put on us because of the sacrifice we choose to “present,” we are better than they. The non-believers see “what” we identify with and are offended, sometimes to the point of murder. It IS our fault because we chose Him, there is where a unique dynamic of evangelistic humilty begins!

    Our presentation must embrace their (possible) extreme point of view. Our love must have the capacity to “go there.” Now, there’s a tough sell!

  41. Kenny Kuykendall says

    I for one certainly appreciate this lady’s honesty concerning her views. We could all take a course in tact when it comes to our ministerial approach, however, we must realize that Christ did give us a commission to reach the lost. There is only one thing more offensive than sharing our views about Christ; and that is remaining silent while men face a Christless eternity. I am certain those in hell are offended by the multitudes of believers who remained silent about their faith and failed to heed warning of eternal damnation. Certainly we should all incorporate tact in our relationships, but truth is truth regardless of personality, preference, or platform.

  42. Rose Mead says

    I have many non Christian friends and I have many family members who are non Christian so I’m well aware of the tension there is on both sides of the fence of belief and non-belief. When you read between the lines this woman is saying that she feels that the love and attention she feels from Christians is not genuine. I don’t question her response. She may long for others to value her friendship for just who she is.

    It is tricky sharing your faith in our Western culture. People basically feel that they are “good” and in no need of anything to “save” them. So, we as Christians are trying to be obedient to our Lord in sharing the gospel to a culture that doesn’t need God. I think most Christians genuinely care about their neighbor’s journey into eternity. But, what I see mostly in my non Christian friends and family is that they zero in on any flaws that we the Church have in order to justify their refusal to believe. I think this is a way to calm their conscience. In the end, we all stand before God and answer for our decisions.

  43. Truth Unites... And Divides says

    What does Jesus think of unbelievers and those who refuse genuine invitations to go to church, or who refuse to seek Him?

  44. Bryan says

    As I read her comments and the rest of these, 2 thoughts came to mind. Why are we a Christian? Because it works, because our parents/environment was Christian? Those are opinionated reasons or subjective. Is Christianity true? We need to answer that question, and then decide to really follow Christ, which would mean that we hang out and “love” non-Christians and Christians. Get out of the bubble, that is the great commission. I am a Christian because it’s very reasonable to believe it’s true based on the evidence. At that point it’s not about my preference. I have to deny my preference, because naturally, I don’t prefer the calling of Christ.

    My second thought is for Christians and non-Christians to resist judging Christianity based on what Christians do, since Christianity is not works based, however, evaluate Christianity based on what it claims and teaches. That does not mean that Christians get a pass for bad behavior. People can say whatever they want about themselves, but the Spirit in them is much more evident than the personal claim. I’m a sinner, saved by grace, and humbled everyday. I’m looking for opportunities to love, but I’m not perfect at it and pray that God will continue to regenerate me.

  45. Rose Mead says

    I’d like to add another comment to what I already stated above. I think we fail in sharing the gospel because we fail to understand grace. It is grace that God has extended to us. He’s given us something wonderful that we don’t deserve. We haven’t earned it. When we grasp this then we can share this with those who are not Christians. We can show them that God offers them grace as well. This doesn’t mean that if we do everything just right in our witness that all will come to Christ but at least we will represent the true nature of God.

  46. says

    Thom Rainer, just wanted to say I really appreciate your columns here and on the Christian Post. You are writing about the topics that Christians need to be reading these days if they’re going to have any impact on the world.

  47. Dennis says

    Should we be blunt to those we meet as to our love for the Lord, or should we befriend them first? . . .take our time and ease into it? Hmmm . . let’s see, . . will that non-believer be alive the next day or even 10 minutes after we meet them?? Is the Lord placing you in their path for a reason? Have you been placed to plant a seed, . . . water it , . . . or reap the harvest? Our Bible says that “Now is the time for Salvation”. I always try to turn a conversation to a spiritual side within a few minutes of talking to someone. It is how you do it that may be seen as being offensive to someone. Arrogance from a Christian has no place in a conversation with an unbeliever, . . or with anyone actually. I always ask new neighbors who move in if they will be looking for a church in the area, and I enthusiastically invite them to try ours if they haven’t looked or thought about it. We tell them to let us know when they want to attend and that we would meet them and sit with them so that they don’t feel like strangers. If the parents don’t seem enthused about it, I offer to take their kids to Sunday School with us, . . and parents sometimes like that . . it gives them a break on Sunday mornings, but guess what? . . soon they are coming to the church to see the children’s programs and activities when invited, and with their children attending, it always opens a door to talking to the parents about spiritual things in some manner. On Judgement Day, . . I hope I never have someone I know from work, my neighborhood or anyplace say, “Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus Christ? . . we worked together for 20 years” . . . “Why didn’t you tell me? . . we were neighbors!?” Wow ! . . that would break my heart to hear that. That person I meet for the first time and chat with in the grocery store line, . . will I ever see them again? . . . where will they spend eternity? If you know someone is going to get run over by a truck, do you wait to tell them “Stop!!” or “Watch out!”? . . food for thought. We must be obedient to our Lord, and what we do, we must do it out of love and be humble, . . we are but servants ourselves.

    • Salafrance Underhill says

      Have you ever heard the phrase ‘It takes eighteen months to make a baby elephant’? However well-meaning you are, you have to acknowledge that attempting to force something like as fundamental as faith, as important to the core of someone’s being, is not necessarily a tremendously bright, nor a particularly kind move.

      It seems to me that one thing Christianity really needs is advocates who are smart, insightful, articulate and kind. Attempting to wrestle people into adopting your spiritual garments *will* alienate the more thoughtful ones.

      Here’s a thought: divide your proselytes into, say two camps. In camp 1, train your people to adopt the method you outline above. In camp 2, teach your people to use tact, sensitivity and intelligence, and to exemplify your faith by their actions.

      Allow to simmer and then compare and contrast.

  48. says

    Its true for many cases. We as Christians should not force anyone but leave it up to their choice. Its because we are afraid at some point that if we do not force or request anyone they may not be like us. Also many non-Christians finds Christianity a GOOD way of living life.

    • Salafrance Underhill says

      > Also many non-Christians finds Christianity a GOOD way of living life.

      There are many aspects of the Christianity that I grew up with that seem highly praiseworthy – kindness to the ppor and sick; befriending the marginalised, valuing peace. Quakers, for example, represent these and other aspects very well, and as such I have a great deal of respect for this group and no small amount of affection. On the other hand, evangelicals seem strident, slavishly legalistic in the sense of the Pharisees, judgemental, *mystifiyingly* smug and often rather mean-spirited.

      I make the point about smugness because I know for a fact that there are many people who are not Christian who value ethical behaviour and live their beliefs to a high standard of fidelity. I’ve spent a lot of time around scientists, for example and I’d say that the majority are in their respective fields because they see the advancement of knowledge as a valuable thing in its own right and they wish to improve the lot of the human race in whatever way they can contribute, large or small. They’re really not in it for the big bucks, or to pull the wool over the eyes of the stupid plebs. Look to the seamier elements in the population of lawyers, businessmen and politicians for those qualities.

      Again, look at secular humanists, many of whom involve themselves with voluntary organisations because, again, they want to make the world a better place.

      To listen to many evangelicals, though, you’d think these people were scum – just acheing to deceive the good members of the flock and score points for Satan and his minions.*

      I am a secular humanist. I don’t have a religious bone in my body – my mind just doesn’t work that way. At the same time, I have ideals and an ethical framework that revolves around a central concept – harm no one. I don’t need the threat of eternal punishment to convince me not to murder, lie or steal. Surpisingly, I am far from unusual.

      * Disclaimer – I am not affiliated with Satan or his minions, although I do wear a lot of black and have occasionally attended rock concerts.

  49. says

    At the end of the day, what most non-Christians think about Christians in America is that we don’t love them. They know we love ourselves, and we love our beliefs, and we love our right to speak up about stuff we don’t like, and we we love our right to love Jesus, and talk about him and wear t-shirts and stickers about him. But they don’t know we love them. That is our own fault. We have become more known for defending our right to be followers of Christ than acting like followers of Christ.

  50. OneMan says

    Here is something radical: How about quit the whole trying to “save” people thing. I know I do not need to be saved. I do not believe in hell, or the creation myth of the Bible being the only viable creation myth. If you dig it, cool. Leave others alone. Spirit, god, the universe, buddha, nature, Paramhansa Yogananada, Eddie Vedder, Michael Houser, Shannon Hoon, Thich Nhat Hanh, Dr. Bob, Erich Fromm, Krishna, the stars, divine mother, Amma, kindess, love, philosophy, Freud, Che, Jung, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr, Ghandi and all of the other myriad of spiritual teachers have their own unique ways of finding folks when the time is right. just be human. quit trying to change others. they will never respect you for it, as it it colonization of the spirit.

  51. Victoria says

    As a non-Christian, I have to say that 90% of these comments continue to back up the point from the article. Most of them talk about “waiting to develop a relationship before witnessing” or something of the sort. There are over 20 major religions in the world, nevermind the number of smaller subsets. Has it ever just occurred to Christians that we just don’t believe the same thing you do? That we don’t think you’re right? That we don’t, at any point, want your prayers or your opinions on how we should think? If Christians are going to be so narrow minded that they are only going to have relationships with people that think the same thing they do, or think that they are better than people that don’t agree with them, why would we want to have a relationship? If you can’t look past my religious preferences (or lack thereof) and see me as a PERSON, I’ll just hang out with my open minded, non preachy friends.

  52. Diana says

    Since I am an atheist, as are my children, I don’t know what Christians say to each other about non-Christians, but I figured it out on my own. After my kids were treated just like in this story, by several Christian children, I googled on the issue. Well, viola! This has happened to my kids repeatedly with Christian children. They are the worst hypocrites, compared to the Muslims and the Jews. They are downright cruel to my kids the way they begin befriending and then drop them, and shun them.

    I actually love the teachings of Jesus and think he was an amazing philosopher. It is a shame that I feel like I follow his teachings about treating other people with respect more than most Christians, especially the children among them. Jesus would be disgusted with most Christian children. Often the more devout parents of these children are very kind, they are just raising some very unkind, judgmental children.

    I wish I didn’t live in the Bible belt. It is very difficult for my kids to be surrounded by so many hypocrites.

  53. Sloane says

    Here’s a bright idea: STOP PRESSURING OTHERS TO JOIN YOUR RELIGION. If someone doesn’t want to join your church, that doesn’t make them a jerk. They’re entitled to their own beliefs, just like you’re entitled to yours. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but if you really want the rest of the world to accept you, then you need to accept the rest of the world. Stop focusing on how many souls you can save and start focusing on being a good person. And by ‘good person’, I mean being compassionate and generous, not paraphrasing a book written three thousand years ago on a street corner.

    I don’t hate Christians, but because of the way I’ve been treated in the past, I’m wary of them. If you want to be respected, then do some respecting in return.

  54. Mitzi King says

    I found her concluding comment about being judgmental pretty funny! She thinks that it’s okay for her to be judgmental because she doesn’t “claim to follow a belief system that has actual rules AGAINST being judgmental”. However, because she is CONDEMNING someone for being judgmental, that indicates that SHE has a standard (a rule) against being judgmental. Hence, it is against HER OWN STANDARD to be judgmental and she cannot call her judgmental behavior “okay.” She is a hypocrite as much as any Christian. She is as judgmental as those she condemns. Funny.

    • Salafrance Underhill says

      Hmm… I think what we need here is to elucidate semantics. Firstly, I’d like t point out that it’s impossible to function without judgement, unless you aim to live the life of a barnacle. Actually, even barnacles offer some basic judgement – they discriminate between the presence and the absence of the tide, for example.

      Everyone exercises some degree of judgement.

      The particular species of judgement under scrutiny herein, though, is a special one. We mean something specific, and I’ll go out on a limb and exercise my own judgement by defining it; almost as though I were some higher life-form with a capacity for sublety and careful, culturally informed, discretion.

      If I judge someone in the sense of the accusation levelled against the judgement of certain Christians, I am determining them to be a lesser human being for some sin of theirs that, objectively, in no way harms other people. The sin, for example, of atheism. The sin of being gay. The sin of belonging to some anathematic, schismatic sect or even a wholly different religion . The sin of failing to conform to your picture of how they should run their lives. The sin of being different.

      An example of this kind of judgement is the propagandised manipulation of the wartime German populace into judging the entire population of Jews as inferior human beings. This sets the stage for more overt acts against your untermenschen du jour, exactly as it did in Nazi Germany. If you’d like some background, read The Pianist, by Wladislaw Szpilman; or The Diary of Anna Frank.

      I have no problem whatsoever with judgement in the general sense.

      Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church is an admittedly extreme example of this mentality. Even if I hated gays, I could not, under any circumstances, bring myself to picket funerals . I don’t have children, but I have enough empathy to have some tiny inkling of the enormous soul-wrenching that a parent feels when they lose a child, and to me, desecrating a funeral in this way seems monstrous.

      I know that the majority of Christians are much, much better people than the variety caught in this particular spotlight.

  55. Debbi says

    Hi there,

    The word Christian seems to have been misinterpreted, to share His name you must behave like Him, every item this woman mentioned, Jesus would not have done nor did He do. If the Word can not be translated correctly in to the actions our God intended us to do, we should stop and reassess, I am a Christian and my first words to anyone I meet do not come out of the Bible, but my from my heart, I engage them and try discover them, each person I meet I know God loves very much, I try to get to know them simply. Never have I tried to shove my faith (relationship with God) onto someone else, because I know it is an intimate thing between God and them, even if they don’t know it yet, if I’m asked I say I a Christian, but mostly I try to live that it is blatantly obvious who is my Daddy.

  56. April Carter says

    It seems that most people here, Christian and non Christian, are guilty of the same error: you assume that all Christians are alike. Everything the woman complained about is foreign to me. Why? Because things are different in the rest of the world. And I was raised by foreign Christian parents. The woman is describing typical modern Western “Christianity”, not the entire Church. She also fails to realize that most Christians are hated because they are godly and their respective countries are wicked. The list goes on and on. As for western Christians, if you are like the woman’s comments, then you need to stop being carnal and start being Christ-like.

    The woman also doesn’t realize that atheists force their religion on others via the internet, books, laws, etc. When I was in the Navy, my atheist shipmates literally spent all day every day blaspheming God, mocking Christianity, and voicing their offensive opinions. My Christian shipmates did not have that behavior towards them or other non Christians. So, the woman would be wise to realize that many atheists are mirror images of stereotypical fundamentalists: they work hard to preach their gospel and proselytize people.

    • Erica says

      I disagree. As Christians, you are supposed to be the ‘better’ role model. You are not supposed to be judgemental. You are supposed to be the living image of a Christ like life, and that is the best way to bring the light of your God to a person who doesn’t believe.

      Witnessing, lowering yourself to the standards of others, that will not win you brownie points. it is the hypocrisy of Western Christians that makes so many dislike them. it is how they act differently than what they ‘profess’ to believe.

      Is it offensive for a non-christian to say that they do not believe God exists? No, not unless you are incapable of standing on your own belief and faith. If your faith is not strong enough to stand in the face of another’s disbelief or criticism, then you do not actually HAVE faith. You are simply trying to conform.

  57. says

    Mr. Rainer,
    We met briefly in May during Fellowship Week at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO. I would like to speak with you about allowing us to include some of your material in Ikthoos Magazine. Please visit IkthoosMagazine.com to view our current issue. Thank you for your time.

    Respectfully,
    George Fuller
    Founder
    Ikthoos.org
    IkthoosMagazine.com

  58. Sara E says

    I can appreciate your point of view. I wouldn’t like being treated like that either – being someone’s project and being discarded if I don’t “form”.

    But I ask you to reflect – why would someone come and try to show you their beliefs in the first place? What worldly benefit would it have for someone if you “convert” to their faith? From my perspective (as a Muslim), what I do in everyday life is try to make my actions stand on their own. This is the way I show my beliefs and how it affects me in a positive way (being honest, humble etc). If I were to introduce Islam to someone, it wouldn’t be for my worldly benefit. I wouldn’t make money off of it. When I see someone suffering, and having an inability to cope with life, I WISH I could tell them about my faith, in order to help them tap into something bigger than themselves. It’s not some conspiracy, or with selfishness that I tell this person. It would be from sincere affection. And I would definitely try to help them as a friend as well, but friendship can’t do it all.

    Thought I would add a nuance to your article.
    Best,
    Sara

  59. Sara E says

    Oh I apologize for not reading thoroughly. I understand now that the article was simply an example with commentary above it! Anyway, I think Christians can probably sympathize with my previous post.

    Cheers
    S

  60. Nita says

    So, I’m a Charismatic Catholic Christian and I don’t act like that. It could just be the location your in and how those Christian s are being taught. I for one use my own brain and my own Bible degree. I agree that Christians are always looking for someone to attend churchwith them, however I for one am aalways willing to go to their place of worship. Last time it was a mosque, the guy said he’d go to mine and every single opportunity to go to 3 different opportunities a week he refused . Also, I don’t talk about Jesus unless the person is Christian I use the universal God. I have respect for Buddah he was a good guy. Also, I never tell people they’re going to hell because the God we all worship is the judge and he’salways kknown for being Forgiving and full of Grace. Amen. So, STOP PUTTING ALL OF US IN ONE CATEGORY.

  61. Tryp.W says

    I know this was blogged months ago but i saw the link on Pinterest and decided to click and read, being a non-christian myself. The points made are understandable and i can relate. I was raised in a independent fundamental baptist home and the Bible was taught to me daily as well as being put in a christian school. My dad was a youth leader and I had to live my life accordingly. Leaving home after just turning 19, I went out into the world with no more then a pair of clothes in my bag, mainly to escape the Christian lifestyle. Every person I knew that proclaimed their faith had failed me miserably including my parents, my best friend of 8 years had told me our senior year of higschool that we could no longer be friends because i was not chirstian enough to be worthy of her friendship. Another friend of mine was raped by the pastor. I don’t have any good memories of Christians, as i could go on and on with examples. I try to keep an open mind and consider everyone’s opinions and beliefs but unfortuntely I do feel bitter towards christians. If anyone who is a christian and bothers to read this, please for the sake of your faith be genuine. It seems christians love to place judgment on the sinners of the world and preach hell to anyone who will not accept their terms but do not look at their own lives honestly. You are the destruction of your own cause. My best friend of today is an Atheist and she is everything a christian should be in character. I am more of an agnostic type now and am happy for once not to feel the pressure of Christianity. I do wish you all well. ( yes grammar is poorly written I know :) )

  62. jay says

    The bottom line is christians and non-belivers cannot be friends. we can be aquaintences, but that is as far as it goes. evangelicals by their faith have the responsibility to witness, humanists, secularist, intellectuals and free thinkers do not want to be witnessed to. Eventually a political, world view or scientific disagreement will occur that keeps us divided.

  63. Mary Grace Drapiza says

    It is really sad…. but it’s true. Not because we are Christians we can call ourselves “Perfect”. We have no right to judge and treat worse others who have their own belief. We can’t be good example if we behave like that. Me either I repent to the Lord Jesus and asking me to help to be Christ like… We can’t force others to believe about what we believe if we will act like that. I hope and I pray that all of us have a loving heart for those we want to reach out.

  64. Sarah says

    Very sad to know but I can truly understand where those two ladies are coming from because I happen to have a father who was a strong christian an is now a non-believer while my mother and I are still strong Christians. Once upon a time we used to go to church regularly and now we hardly go because my father doesn’t want to come. So my mother and I go together. So many times my brother had told me to be open and have a open mind. So I have coped with two sides of life.

  65. peace seeker says

    I usually don’t put messages on these types of sites, but I feel God’s energy stirring inside of me to make an exception.
    This issue is one that resonates deeply with me. It is a very delicate and sensitive topic for many people. I lost a friend during college because I wasn’t a Christian. There have been many tense and awkward family moments due to the same patterns of conflict described above. Like the lady in the story above, I am also a practicing Buddhist, but a couple of years ago I reconnected with my Christian roots via what could be called a born-again experience. So as far as labels go (and I don’t really like labels) you could call me a Buddhist/Christian. Both labels apply as I have retained some metaphysical Christian beliefs. But even with the double category, it still seems that I am viewed with suspicion by very orthodox/traditional/strict Christians. Even when asked about my beliefs and after explaining them, I am still invited to church repeatedly and conversion still seems to be a priority for my friend or family member. I have even been told on several occasions that I have not accepted 100% of Jesus. It really makes me feel like a second-class Christian when I believe in Christ but am told that I haven’t accepted Christ. I’m not sure how much more of Jesus I can accept! Are there levels of Christianity which require that we prove to each other how Christian we are so that we can finally be accepted among certain circles.
    Here’s a funny story (but maybe not so funny). There was one time when my friend actually asked me to ask “the Jesus that I believed in” if he was the real Jesus. Well, of course logic teaches us that this implies my friend harbored an assumption that I believed in a “fake” Jesus. I’ll be honest, at the time, I was really insulted by this request.
    I have great respect for the Bible, for Christianity, for my Christian brothers and sisters, and for the good contributions that they make to society. But sometimes, their actions can be very hypocritical and hurtful to the people they love. And the people who love them are left scratching their heads wondering what the big deal is all about.
    As far as solutions – no guarantees these will work but this may be a good place to start:
    Interfaith dialogue which genuinely seeks to understand the other side.
    Missions should be more about Christ’s message of love than conversion.
    Empathy for the other position. For example,
    Non-Christians should understand that most Christians believe in hell and this makes spreading the gospel so much more urgent for them. But Christians need to also understand that people don’t like to be condemned (it’s an ego thing). So, instead of saying to someone that they are going to hell or pushing religion every time they meet. Ask the non-Christian how they are, form lasting friendships no matter what faith they have. Non-Christians should also avoid needlessly categorizing all Christians as “hypocrites”. It is not the person who is the hypocrite it is the action that is hypocritical. We are all human and will sin and make mistakes and do things that are hypocritical no matter what our egos tell us. “For all have fallen short…”
    I really like the saying: “Actions speak louder than words.” Sometimes it is best to express your faith without saying anything. God’s consciousness can be manifested by our deeds.
    I know that I went kind of long, here. Open, honest, and helpful religious dialogue is something that is close to my heart. I really hope that something here helps to advance the cause of understanding, healing, and peace.
    With love and a bow,

  66. Ellen says

    Great article. I am a Catholic Christian, and I feel that I get the same kind of treatment from my Protestant friends and acquaintences. It may not be all Christian denominations that behave like this, but I do feel that Protestants tend to be more vocal and bible thumping about their faith than most Catholics I know. I am not a big fan of evangelizing my faith to anyone because I feel that everyone is entitlted to what they believe, and that every religion comes from the same root and branches out in different directions. The terminology in each faith is just different but is the same principal, and goal. Think of it as a different path to the same place.

    I know that I have said this in other blogs, but this is so far the most appropriate blog post yet: I have a friend who I rarely see anymore. Back when in grade school she invited me to her church, and they put me right on the spot to immediately join. It was okay at first, but after I got confirmed, our friendship pretty much hit rock bottom. At church, there were a bunch of Youth Group activities, of course, my friend would continuously pester me to go to every church activity and even get my mom involved in conspiring. So, I had to go to these activities. Our friendship became a very low priority because she would never call me to see if I wanted to the movies or the mall, etc.-she would only call me about church. I did eventually leave that church because they were all self absorbed, self-centered, self serving, etc. And they would always use God as the reason why I should comply with them. What a load of garbage. I tried to express my views and feelings, but they would never listen. They would just call me selfish and a complainer. As for my friend, I see her a few times a year, while she does not seem as judgmental as before, she still brings up God and church, and nit picks because I go to the Catholic Church. So, she is pretty much Anti-Catholic, believing that the Catholic faith is not a true Christian faith. While, I am not Mormon, that is another Christian faith that is constantly being attacked. People in general do not know enough to judge it. While it may seem quirky in what they believe, if they are happy and content with it, then leave it be. Who is anyone to say that any Christian denomination or non-Christian religion is not true.

    I later joined the Catholic church and converted because I feel that it is the only church I have found that does not judge other people. The Catholic Catechism believes that we are to respect all religions, including non-Christian religions for what they believe to be true, The Catholic parishes that I have been to do not pressure people into making excessive commitments to serve in church like the Protestant churches do. I have also found that unlike other churches, I can talk to people in church without them breaking confidentail information, they don’t encourage a lot of gossip. That indeed may be because a lot of people in the church do not know each other that well or interact that much, so they are less likely to gossip. A last point that I can say is the Catholic Church lets people live their lives and serve God outside of church witht their gifts and abilities. Serving God does not start or stop in any church. I apologize for going off on a tangent!

    I believe that true friends are there for each other and support and respect each other. True friends should be able to have friendships with different religous beliefs without interrogating them into possibly converting. I think that it is very petty and vane to say that kids of different religions cannot play together. I just wish that people would be willing to set their beliefs aside when they are out in the real world. Another thought that has come to mind (not trying to sound political) is that that what would be our personal rights are being compromised is because people tend to abuse their rights at other people’s expense. People have the right to have whatever faith (or not) as they wish, but they do not have the right to compromise another person’s rights for having a different belief. If everyone would just leave well enough alone, then the government probably would not be interering at all.

    As proud ot be the Christian that I am, but I have to say that I do not blame people who do not go to church, or who do not have a faith because I think that many churches have an agenda that benefits them. Anymore, it is usually about money, or cutting in with people’s everyday lives. If a person chooses to go to church, there must be a balance between church and having a healthy and balanced life. Just because a church has an activity or service at a specific time, it does not mean that everyone must drop whatever they are doing. Everyone should be allowed to decide if and when they will participate in any church function. If the timing does not work this time or even the next time, so be it. He/she may be able to come the next time; just leave it with no strings attached. A personal relationship or friendship is more important and more valuable than religious anyday.

  67. says

    Since I trusted Christ, I have had a desire to share the Gospel with others. No doubt, over the past 25 years or so, many of my attempts have been cringe-worthy. Yet, I hear in several of the comments, though not all, a subtle call to stop sharing the Gospel with words. This, of course, would serve no purpose other than the purpose of the “god of this world”.

    “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4)

    God so loved the world- including atheists. As we speak to “the world” of Christ, God’s love should be manifest. Albeit, some will preach Christ in a harsh manner and so cause some to complain. Others will preach Christ in a loving manner and some will still complain. What then shall we do? Let your compassion for their soul be heard in the timber of your words. But let your words be the Gospel of Christ.

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16,)“

    For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”” (1 Corinthians 1:18–19, ESV)

    • Truth Unites... and Divides says

      “Yet, I hear in several of the comments, though not all, a subtle call to stop sharing the Gospel with words.”

      Brian, thanks so much for observing this. Your comment is one of the very best, if not the best comment I’ve read on this post and thread.

      If all of apostles simply lived with the saving knowledge of Christ, and only shared the Gospel with words when asked, then I could see Biblical basis for the argument to stop sharing the Gospel with words.

      But since it’s diametrically the opposite of that, it’s simply the Holy Spirit inspired Biblical mandate to share and proclaim the Gospel with words, oral and written.

      Thanks again Brian for a most excellent comment.

      • Brian Braddock says

        Thanks “Truth Unites…and Divides”. I happened across this post while preparing to challenge our church on personal evangelism. It was very helpful for me to process all of the objections and different opinions about it. I’m going to encourage our church to ensure that they have God’s compassion for the lost before they seek to evangelize them. Otherwise, I fear we will simply come across uncaring religious zealots. I’m all for zeal, but not without knowledge- Knowledge of God’s compassion that is.

        Thanks again for your encouragement.

  68. says

    Spot on. You’ll probably notice my link to you in a few minutes, but I wanted to say this here–one really encouraging thing for me, as a non-Christian concerned about Christian overreach, was to see so many Christians deeply convicted by this article. As discouraging as it was to see how many Christians didn’t realize how badly they come off to outsiders (it’s shocking how little they tend to understand about real love), it was sweetly encouraging to see how many Christians will hopefully learn from what has been presented here. I appreciate that you included this article and hope it helps a lot of people. Namaste, peace, and all that good stuff to you.

  69. CleanPianoKeys says

    The trouble with Christians is, they think every one else’s spiritual view is of the “””Devil””””. I really do wish they would acknowledge the Devil as their own. Theirs and their cousins the Muslims. No one else believes in the Devil and quite frankly I and many others are tired of them labeling me and mine with some creation they invented. This is not new, they have done it since day one. They are in decline and it couldn’t happen to a better bunch. Hopefully the Muslims will soon follow suit. So Christ men and women, get it straight will you please. The Devil is your guy NOT OURS, he is part of YOUR pantheon NOT OURS. OK? So quit calling all of us Devil worshipers. We aren’t now nor were we ever. Devil only exists in YOUR minds, no one wants him or you. Deal with it.

  70. Marah Kittelson says

    I am 17. Most of my friends are some form of agnosticism they claim to be Christianity. I became a True Christian 2 years ago, and ever since then, things have been different. They find me to be pretentious and judgmental, saying I have no respect for their beliefs. They claim I treat them like they’re less than me. What happens is they ask me a direct question about my faith and beliefs, I answer honestly to the best of my knowledge, and they get offended. One of my friends sent me the link to this blog, claiming I’ve been acting like the people this woman described. They no longer want to be my friends. Y’all seem like very intelligent, Christian minded people. I was wondering if you could give me advice on how to reconcile this relationship? I’ve been praying about it, asking God to give me the words, but I’m scared. Thanks for your help!

    • says

      Hi Marah- First, let me say how encouraged I am by your testimony. It reminds me much of my own. I’ve included a quote from the Apostle Peter below that has helped me much regarding the situation you describe. By way of background: The people to whom Peter was writing, were relatively new Christians who were suffering severe persecution, even torture and death, because of their testimony for Christ. His counsel to them will surely suffice for our situations. Hope you find these verses helpful:

      “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:14–16, ESV)

        • Truth Unites... and Divides says

          Marah, listen to Brian Braddock. Not to Captain Cassidy.

          “What happens is they ask me a direct question about my faith and beliefs, I answer honestly to the best of my knowledge, and they get offended.”

          Did Jesus and the Apostles not do the very same thing as you? And did they not all get unjustly persecuted and suffer false accusations too? As well as many other godly Christians throughout history and all over the world today? The Pharisees were offended. If your friends are offended, they may very well be Liberal Pharisees.

          Stand on the Word; pray in the Spirit. You’re doing great Marah.

    • says

      They are saying that you’re behaving in a pretentious and judgmental fashion because that’s exactly what you are doing, Marah. You claim that you are a TRUE CHRISTIAN™, which implies they are false ones–then go on to say that they’re really “agnostics” practicing some form of deeply inferior Christianity. Do you not understand how insulting that is to them or how pretentious that is of you to even say? How can you treat people like that and say you are a TRUE CHRISTIAN™?

      See, nobody knows what a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ looks like. There’s no checklist. Every single Christian in the world, in every one of the 40,000 denominations in the religion, thinks he or she is doing things the way they’re supposed to be done. You’re awfully young to have figured out the magic formula for what a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ looks like. Maybe you should start a new denomination. But do you remember what Jesus said? You’d know his followers by their love. And your friends do not feel loved by you. Nor is love coming off this post you wrote. So obviously you are doing something very wrong.

      Please do not take their criticism to be some kind of sign that you’re obviously doing the right thing or that you’re being persecuted for being such a stunningly awesome TRUE CHRISTIAN™. One day you may well find yourself disengaging from this religion or at the least from this mindset, and you may well find, like 70% of your peers will by the time they turn 30, that you were totally wrong about what you believe right now, and you’re going to need those friends to help you through that emotional catastrophe. You need to get over yourself and stop thinking you’re some kind of advanced being or that you’ve gotten totally right what billions of Christians have been struggling to figure out for 2000 years. You need to start loving your friends, and that may involve you learning what love even looks like (hint: they are the ones who get to say if your behavior is loving–not you).

      • Brian Braddock says

        Marah- I’m sorry you’re having to endure this verbal attack by Captain Cassidy. I’ve seen other posts of hers filled with similar anger and hatred. Sadly, she cannot see the hypocrisy of her accusations of you as being “insulting and pretentious” while she pretentiously insults you for your opinion. There is no doubt that you and I will say things wrong sometimes. People like Cassidy will always be there to jump on you when you do. The irony is that this IS exactly the sort of thing that Peter was encouraging the christians about in that verse I posted for you. The only response is one of meekness and love. “Be not overcome with evil, but over come evil with good” (Romans 12:21)

        • says

          How strange to be told I am hateful and angry, when I am neither. I think I’d know if I’d been attacking anybody, or what my mindset and emotional state were. But Christians are very fond of attacking someone’s tone to dismiss them out of hand, and you just did that–I’m not surprised, and I’m not even angry at this point that you attempted to silence me in such a callous and cruel manner. I’m so used to Christians being hateful and mean-spirited that it’s actually surprising when I run across one who is different. Marah asked a good question, one I wrestled with myself when I was a Christian, one which you’d be wrestling with too if you only understood, and I gave her an honest and completely accurate answer. It wasn’t the answer that gave her permission to continue to treat her friends like that, which is what I think she was seeking; nor was my answer one absolving her of her responsibility to treat people with love and respect. I think you, like Marah, need to learn that love is as love does, and it is the person you are interacting with who gets to decide if your behavior and words were loving. And yours were not. Now, I’m under no mandate to love you, but you are under one to love me. And you just flunked bigtime. Don’t worry, Brian. I’ll save you a seat in the lake of eternal fire while we sizzle and scream for eternity for our finite thought crimes. I’ll bring cupcakes. Any more snide, snarky, hateful remarks you want to make? It’s always fun to see a Christian fail the biggest commandment his Savior gave him.

          • Brian Braddock says

            Captain Cassidy- I’d be very interested in what you think it means to “be a Christian.” Here’s my take on it. Will you be open minded enough to consider it?

            As I told another person recently- The Christian Message displays the perfect balance between the complementary and universal truths of Love and Justice. God’s Love does not pervert Justice. God’s Justice does not contradict His love.

            The greatest example of how God balanced these two truths is seen in the cross of of Christ. Jesus said that “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Shortly thereafter, Jesus laid down His life for the sins of the whole world- thus calling us all friends for whom He died. The greatest act of love ever known to humanity was expressed to humanity by God Himself. God knows what love is. He is Love. But what about Justice?

            Justice is also seen in the Cross of Christ. “God proved His loved for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). In order for us to experience God’s Love, God’s justice had to be satisfied. Otherwise, God becomes unjust. An unjust God is not a loving God. So, to satisfy His own perfect justice in order that we might experience for all eternity His perfect love, God allowed His Son to receive the just punishment that we deserve. God’s justice requires death as the penalty for sin. Thus, Jesus offers His death in our place. This is where love meets justice- at the Cross. As Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

            What does He mean by “shall not perish?” This death is more than just the death of our bodies, but also of our souls. The death of the soul is carried out in God’s prison that was created for the devil and his angels. ““Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41, ESV) Jesus’ death on the cross satisfies God’s just judgment against our souls. We will all face physical death, but we needn’t face eternal death.

            The Gospel means “good news”. In the Greek language it is the pronounce, “eu-ang-ellion.” Prior to its used by the Lord, its secular usage referred to the “good news” that a king would pronounce to his people after wining a battle against there enemy. He would inform them that their enemy had been defeated and they could rejoice and no longer fear the destruction and death from their enemy. The citizens were to “believe the good news” and live in peace. What Christ meant by it, was the He had gone and defeated our soul’s greatest enemy- The Law of God that condemned us. Not that the Law was bad. The Law is good, but we have violated it, and earned it’s condemnation. In that sense the Law of God becomes our enemy. Jesus satisfied the Law’s demands by dying in our place. The Good News is that we can avoid the judgment of the Law by “believing the good news.” That’s the “whosoever believes in Him” part of John 3:16.

            You see, Christians are not sure of Heaven because they think they’re better than anyone. They are sure of Heaven because they believed that Jesus is their Savior, their King who has conquered their enemy. I often hear non-Christians saying that Christians think they are better than everyone else, but I’ve never heard a Christian say the words, “I am better than you.” To say that would be contrary to the Gospel that they professed to believe.

            Isn’t this really good news though? God loved us so much that we don’t have to hide in the darkness anymore, making excuses for our sins, blaming others for the way we are. All of us, can have complete and total forgiveness from God simply by believing the Gospel. Have you believed this Good News?

            By the way- Jesus did in fact go around and tell people about Hell. I gave one reference above. There are 11 more below. I don’t point this out to win an argument. But to show why death of the Cross was necessary. Namely, the punishment for sin is so horrible, Jesus paid a horrible price to rescue you and me.

        • Erica says

          I have to say I’m with Captain Cassidy on this one. Jesus was known for his love, not his remarks on how he was better than everyone else. He had his ideas on what was right, but he didn’t go around telling people about how they were going to burn in hell, or how he thought that his way was better than any other way.

          Sure, he may have believed that, but he also knew that saying so would only put people on the defensive. Defensive people close their ears.

          The first and greatest commandment of any Christian is to Love. Through Love, anything can be done. If Christians as a whole practiced that commandment regularly, then it’s pretty unlikely that the stereotype portrayed in this blog would exist at all. Just something to think about.

          • Brian Braddock says

            Hi Erika,
            I appreciate your comments. May I make a few of my own without appearing “un-loving?”

            You appear to be out of balance concerning the complementary and universal truths of Love and Justice. God’s Love does not pervert Justice. God’s Justice does not contradict His love.

            The greatest example of how God balanced these two truths is seen in the cross of of Christ. Jesus said that “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Shortly thereafter, Jesus laid down His life for the sins of the whole world- thus calling us all friends for whom He died. The greatest act of love ever known to humanity was expressed to humanity by God Himself. God knows what love is. He is Love. But what about Justice?

            Justice is also seen in the Cross of Christ. “God proved His loved for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). In order for us to experience God’s Love, God’s justice had to be satisfied. Otherwise, God becomes unjust. An unjust God is not a loving God. So, to satisfy His own perfect justice in order that we might experience for all eternity His perfect love, God allowed His Son to receive the just punishment that we deserve. God’s justice requires death as the penalty for sin. Thus, Jesus offers His death in our place. This is where love meets justice- at the Cross. As Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

            What does He mean by “shall not perish?” This death is more than just death of our bodies, but also of our souls. The death of the soul is carried out in God’s prison, that was created for the devil and his angels. ““Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41, ESV) Jesus’ death on the cross satisfies God’s just judgment against our souls. We will all face physical death, but we needn’t face eternal death.

            The Gospel means “good news”. In the Greek language it is the pronounce, “eu-ang-ellion.” Prior to its used by the Lord, its secular usage referred to the “good news” that a king would pronounce to his people after wining a battle against there enemy. He would inform them that their enemy had been defeated and they could rejoice and no longer fear the destruction and death from their enemy. The citizens were to “believe the good news” and live in peace. What Christ meant by it, was the He had gone and defeated our soul’s greatest enemy- The Law of God that condemned us. Not that the Law was bad. The Law is good, but we have violated it, and earned it’s condemnation. In that sense the Law of God becomes our enemy. Jesus, satisfied the Law’s demands by dying in our place. The Good News is that we can avoid the judgment of the Law by “believing the good news.” That’s the “whosoever believes in Him” part of John 3:16.

            You see, Christians are not sure of Heaven because they think they’re better than anyone. They are sure of Heaven because they believed that Jesus is their Savior, their King who has conquered their enemy. I often hear non-Christians saying that Christians think they are better than everyone else, but I’ve never heard a Christian say the words, “I am better than you.” To say that would be contrary to the Gospel that they professed to believe.

            Isn’t this really good news though? God loved us so much that we don’t have to hide in the darkness anymore, making excuses for our sins, blaming others for the way we are. All of us, can have complete and total forgiveness from God simply by believing the Gospel. Have you believed this Good News?

            By the way- Jesus did in fact go around and tell people about Hell. I gave one reference above. There are 11 more below. I don’t point this out to win an argument. But to show why death of the Cross was necessary. Namely, the punishment for sin is so horrible, Jesus paid a horrible price to rescue you and me.
            Matthew 5:22
            But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
            Matthew 5:29
            If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
            Matthew 5:30
            And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
            Matthew 10:28
            And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
            Matthew 16:18
            And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
            Matthew 18:9
            And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
            Matthew 23:15
            Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
            Matthew 23:33
            You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
            Mark 9:43
            And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
            Mark 9:45
            And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
            Mark 9:47
            And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
            Luke 12:5
            But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

            Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:07 PM March 03, 2014.

        • says

          So, Brian, if I read what you wrote and come away thinking that you are not only massively un-loving, but also do not present any sort of compelling reason for me to think that your quirky lil take on your religion is viable for me, then I am “closed-minded”? No evidence, no proof of anything, just judgment and threats, but if I don’t fall into line like you did, then I’m the one who is “closed-minded”? Is that what you’re seriously saying? Huh. And you think you’re being a good little Christian?

          My take on it is this: the character of Jesus that is presented in the Gospels (and Acts to a limited extent) said that people would know Christians by their love, not by their dogmatic adherence to rules and Bible verses and smug, calculating threats against those who do not believe. If he told people about Hell, well, that was him, and you as a follower were told not to be judgmental, not to threaten people on behalf of your imaginary friend. You are not Jesus, unless you have something startling up your sleeve, so that “do not judge” rule seems to be in effect here. Moving on, the Love Chapter that Christians use for their weddings (and then promptly forget) says absolutely nothing about dogma, threats, or theology, but everything about how to tell when someone is behaving lovingly or not, and says that love is the chiefest virtue of all virtues. And we can see the effectiveness in love in a variety of cults and movements, which gain converts through techniques like “love-bombing.” Nobody converts because a Christian looked down his or her nose at them or disapproved of them OH SO HARD or told them all about how “just” it is that a savage, bloodthirsty, ruthless god murdered his own innocent child to pay for the crimes (many of them only thought crimes) committed by the humans he created and a cosmology he invented to keep them out of a Hell that he apparently created. That’s not only monstrously UNjust, but wow, do you really think this system is a sign of your god’s power rather than his rank ineptitude and horrifying capacity for evil? Because to me, that’s all the reason I need to reject such a disgusting conceptualization of the divine.

          Sorry.. I think I’ll just have to live with King You thinking I’m “closed-minded.” If you are what your god thinks is an ideal follower, then the last thing I’d ever want is to identify with a group of folks like you or risk spending eternity anywhere near you.

          The only real problem here is that with your judgmental attitude and scorn for love, you’ve got about as much chance of seeing your Bible’s mythical Heaven as I do, and I’d rather you go somewhere I’m not going.

  71. Gabe says

    Dear Thom, I also would like to post your blog on my FB page. Would you allow me? Of course all the people commented on it should have….Please let me know! God bless you and all who reads it!

    Thanks!

    Gabe

  72. RD South says

    I’ll tell you what we think of you. We think you are the rulers of the world, the dominant religion, and the overwhelmingly dominant in the strongest countries. Yet you still try to pretend to be the oppressed outsiders you once were back when you were conquering the world by converting kings by pimping Christian wives to them.. Those who pay lip service to your religion outnumber those of us who refuse to by a ration of 3 o4 4 to one. The outer layer of your religion is all nice, but that’s just the outer part: the hard under layer is a psychotic black hole theology. Christianity is only tolerable at all because it isn’t being practiced. You’re professing one religion and practicing another, the one you want. You are everything your tales tell that the antichrist will be. God is real, and your theology explicitly places itself between us and God. I will not accept the mark of your overlord. You’re just as bad as the Moslems and all the others. I hate this cancerous meme, and wish I could free the world of it. Anything else?

  73. says

    I am going to school in a unbelieving school, and I get pressured by teachers and kids to join them and I say no, how do I tell that they are wrong in their reasoning and that Jesus is the light without getting into a fight, and making me looki like an idiot and getting me into trouble

  74. Mary says

    I find this thread very interesting and relevant in my life. I consider myself to be very spiritual and an ex Christian who still believes among other things in the teachings of love from JC, but not the dogma of any religion…..Up until I moved to the Midwest 20 or so years ago, I really wasn’t aware of much exclusion toward me from many Christians. I had certainly had a few run-ins from some extremists, (one was quite violent toward me) but the last couple of decades has me wondering what has happened to so many Christians to cause them to be so exclusive and hell bent (excuse the pun) toward eliminating non-Christians from every social and even professional circle? I find myself saddened any even angry at their actions and words.

    I know a few wonderful Christians who enjoy discussing with me our different spiritual viewpoints, but these are quite rare…….They are generally the ones who are truly filled with light and have amazing attitudes…..they get it!

    NO ONE OWNS GOD……If more Christians would try to be “Christlike” they might realize THAT is what salvation is all about.

  75. Catie says

    I have to say that i am disgusted with the post. I cannot believe what i have just read. You people have got nothing to do with your lives and decide to go and bag the Christians. you should all be ashamed with yourselves, go bag your own relgion. Not all christians are bad, some of them are better than all you people.

    • Bolekwa says

      Let me get this straight. You’re being judgemental to a lady who wrote about factual events where Christians were depicted as not being perfect saints as they claim to be.
      You sound a whole lot like the Christian woman who kept on pruning her garden when the kids were hurting the boy’s feelings.

  76. Anna says

    Thank you for addressing this issue. I guess what I’d like to say is that as a person who is not a Christian, I learn more by watching. Christians do not need to witness or tell us about the good words of their god. They need to show us “good works.” I once worked side by side with a woman who was truly friendly. I liked being around her because she treated everyone with warmth and dignity. Her open smile and warm regard for everyone made her an approachable person. I liked the way she talked about her family, her children and mate. She never complained about them but spoke of them in loving terms. She wasn’t afraid to look into my eyes and meet me wherever I was at that moment, be that a moment of gladness or a moment of sorrow and pain. I liked what she saw in me. I felt good when I was with her. This made me curious about her and one day, I asked, “Martha, I always feel so good when I’m with you. What’s your secret?” And then she told me about her relationship with Christ. She had not mentioned being a Christian to me before this, yet what I felt when I was with her found its way into my heart. This woman was so very strong in her relationship with Christ that she did not need to speak his name or threaten hell and damnation. No, the Love that is Christ flowed into everything she did. I think that when we need to depend on the “outside” as contrast to what we think we are, and fight against it in order to become who we want to be, we have missed the mark. Martha did not need to separate herself from “others” in order to know the love of Christ. Thank you.

  77. Dan says

    The truth is that America is not a christian nation. Just like Rome there are many beliefs under one roof. Christians have deluded themselves by thinking their passing dominance here was due to their love of god. They don’t have a clue about how they got that power by murdering, cheating, and disenfranchising those who didn’t share their religious beliefs. Or how many of their ‘converts’ just went along to fit in to the mainstream culture. That’s now changing. If christianity is to survive they have to give up their arrogance and demonstrate the positive values they preach. No more free ride. No more threats of a ridiculous hell.

  78. Bolekwa says

    This article is great, it’s lovely to see that people are open to being criticized. Honestly, no offence, but non-Christians are lost souls in need of saving (even if that is your belief). Actions speak loader than words and I can completely relate to her article. There is a lady at work, pushing the Christian views down my throat the whole time, almost whispering to sound more “saintly”.
    Eventually I grew so sick of listening to her religious stories, I told her directly that I’m interested in getting to know her and care about her, and I’m not interested in what her church does.
    This was probably the most honest thing I’ve ever said to an outspoken Christian. And it would be great if all Christians remind themselves of it….non-Christians want to get to know you and your identity, not what your church says.

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