I once read this and I think many people feel the same way today because it seems that I hear it from people that I have invited to church.
Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”.
Honestly, we are exactly like that. We claim to know Jesus and have Him in our heart, but to people that we don’t know or are new to our church we are more like the Pharisees than we are Jesus. We tend to judge people by the way they are dressed or by what someone said about them in a whisper when they came in and sat down. What if you are judged in that way when you are standing in front of God? How would you like to be judged by the measure that you use every day?
It is true that people in the church can be much like children when someone new shows up. Children are mean. The words which many people in church use toward someone who NEEDS Jesus can be very hurtful and mean too! I don’t mean that every church is this way nor are all the people in each church this way, but the ones that we hear about certainly are!
In spite of the childish rhyme which goes: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. This is patently WRONG and most adults know it, but they teach this to their kids anyway. Words do hurt, many times more deeply and for a much longer period than sticks and stones.
Why do we do this? This kind of behavior is not what Jesus would do nor would He allow His disciples to act like this! “Church people” have always had a kind of “better than you” attitude and unfortunately it doesn’t do much for the membership of the church. Many of them would really get offended if you told them this too. So, how can it be fixed? Well…there will be some hurt feelings and some will get angry with the pastor if he is the one pointing it out, but you can’t get rid of a behavior if you don’t know it is there.
An addict won’t try to change their life until they recognize that they are addicted to whatever it may be. Although, I am not saying that we, as Christians, are addicted to this type of behavior but it does tend to happen more often in larger churches or in city churches, at least in my experience. Small country churches may notice new people but most don’t turn a judging eye to a new person until they get to know them or hear some gossip about them. Even then it is the wrong thing to do.
We are all sinners in God’s sight, but if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior then your sins are covered by His blood and forgiven. So the drug addict or alcoholic who shows up on Sunday and sits in the back is no different from the preacher who is bringing the message. Jesus loves them both and if they are Christian and have accepted Him as their Savior then their sins are forgiven. Even if they fail occasionally and sin again, Jesus still loves them and if they come in repentance to Him they are still forgiven.
We are all human and in God’s sight, a sin is a sin. There are no BIG ones or small ones. This is why Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors, whether they were accepted by the Pharisees or not and most weren’t. Jesus brought His message of God’s love to everyone, whether they were sinners, saint or adulterer or prostitute, and murderous thieves like the ones who were crucified with Him. Why can’t we do the same?
Because most church-going Christians think that they are better than others, but the ground is level and God’s grace and love are given free to all at the foot of the Cross. Only through the belief in and acceptance of Jesus as your Savior is salvation purchased by His blood and not your own works.