I’m minding my own business last week, when an article comes across my desk instructing me (and all evangelical Christians) how to show love to all of these people we supposedly hate. The conclusion? Stop being Christians and agree with everything the world says…then they’ll know you really love them. (my paraphrase)
The unloving Christians. The media has been telling us for years that Christians are unfeeling and unloving. But the evidence doesn’t show that. It’s a deception and it is not true.
What the Numbers Say About Unloving Christians
In fact, looking from a purely statistical angle, actively church-going Christians out give and out volunteer those who don’t attend church by far. By far.
Some studies have been criticized because they included giving to a church as charitable giving. (Considering that most churches do charitable outreach, there’s clearly nothing wrong with that classification.) However, one study looked beyond that and summarized their findings with this statement,
In short, religious actives on a per capita basis give substantially more to secular, non-religious causes than do inactives.
Did you get that? Christians give more even to secular causes than do non-Christians.
But, as a sign that even hallowed science can be biased, check out this quote at the end of the above mentioned study’s summary.
We must confess that our report has been so uniformly upbeat about the religiously active that we have grown uncomfortable. The key findings of our research are so consistent that they could not be ignored…
Then they went on to describe how even though way more Christians volunteer and give than non-believers… they’re not doing enough. Just look at how many Christians don’t.
Listen, the propaganda machine will continue to say that we’re unloving, I don’t expect that to change. But brothers and sisters, we in the church have got to stop perpetuating this myth!
How to Really Show Love
If you are a Bible believing follower of Jesus, you have been given the ministry of reconciliation (according to Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18)
What in the world does that mean?
The word translated “reconcile” means “to decisively change; coming (changing) to the same position.”
If two parties are not in agreement, in order for them to be reconciled, something needs to change. One or both of the parties needs to move or change their position.
Can I tell you a secret about God? He hasn’t moved.
In the garden of Eden, it was mankind whose sin separated them from Him. We were separated from Him then, and it’s our sin that separates us from Him now.
Little words can be very important in imparting meaning. Here’s part of that verse in Corinthians, it says,
God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…
That little word “to” carries so much meaning. God reconciled us TO Himself…He’s given us the ministry of reconciling the world TO Him.
That means telling people that they need to change their ways to line up with God’s. Because, remember: God has not moved.
But we don’t like being told that we’re wrong, that we have to change to be reconciled to God. And so, we name those who call us out unloving.
How the Church Has Failed
I really believe that one of the biggest ways believers have failed is by buying into the lie that Christians are unloving, and doing everything to bend over backwards to make people like us. Besides looking desperate, we are in effect trying to reconcile God to people…His ways to ours. It’s backwards and it will not work.
I think an interesting study would be to look at the timeline of when churches began trying to suck up to non-believers (the whole “missional church/seeker friendly” movement) and see how much more loved people are feeling. All of these groups that we supposedly hate, do they feel more loved (according to the media)? Have relations improved or gotten worse in the last few decades? They’ve gotten worse because the media -and some in government- are drilling into everyone’s heads that Christians hate them. And we Christians fall in step, pandering to avoid being labeled unloving.
Disagreeing is not hating.
Telling someone you believe they are wrong is not hating.
Calling out sin in order to reconcile a person to God is not hating.
Are there unloving Christians? Most definitely. But that seems like kind of a ‘duh’ thing to have to say, isn’t it? Among any group of humans, there are going to be some jerks, right? And we Christians need to do a better job of telling the jerks among us to stop it!
Another ‘duh’ thing that I’ll say, just to be clear. If we truly are Bible believing followers of Jesus, we need to follow all of it. And that means that as we reconcile the world to our Great God, we do so with love and graciousness and kindness.
Boldness doesn’t have to be rude. Daniel, who stood up to the king, was described as being full of “wisdom and tact”. Let’s shoot for that.
Reconciled To God
Our amazing Creator God has done everything to give us a way to be reconciled to Him. You’ve seen this painting by Michelangelo, right? It’s on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Look at Adam loafing there. He looks indifferent, doesn’t he? You can almost hear him sighing an apathetic sigh. And do I sense a little eye rolling going on?
See this close up of their hands:
All Adam has to do is lift his finger to touch the hand of God. Do you see that?! The Father is reaching…straining to meet him. And literally, all man has to do is barely lift a finger.
And that, my friends, is the ministry of reconciliation that we’ve been given. Reaching out to an indifferent world.