I feel like there’s a pretty big gap when it comes to Non-Christians understanding Christians’ attitudes and intentions. Here are four points that may help close that gap.
1. We don’t see ourselves as better than you in any way.
The way we became Christians is by receiving a gift from God, not by doing anything. I repeat, anything. How can we see ourselves as better than others when all we’ve done is receive something? What’s more, the same gift we’ve received – salvation through faith in Jesus Christ – is offered to you. We’re recipients of God’s grace. Grace means unmerited favor; in other words, we have God’s favor, but not because of anything we’ve done.
I have six kids. Last year I wrote and sang them a song. Watch it here:
http://gabrieltew.com/my-favorite/. All their lives I’ve told each one of them, whispering in
their ear, “You’re my favorite.” It’s been true every single time I’ve whispered it, because I’ve
never meant it in a comparative sense. I simply meant that I favor them. They would smile at me sheepishly, and I back at them, like we were keeping a secret from their five siblings. But they all soon figured out I was actually saying those same words to each of the others.
That’s how God’s favor is. He doesn’t favor some above others. He offers every person the
same grace (unmerited favor) that He would offer if there were just one of us. God’s favor isn’t comparative. It’s amazing for everybody.
What’s more is that the people who accept the gift of salvation from God do so because they know they’re lost without Him. So we Christians are keenly aware of our depravity and our need for God’s forgiveness. We don’t look down on anybody; we see ourselves as the lowest of the low. But we also see ourselves as forgiven, because that’s the whole purpose of Jesus’ coming and dying. So we don’t see you as lower than we, but we hope you’ll see yourselves as needing of Christ, and accept His invitation to salvation.
2. We don’t want you to act a certain way or believe like we do; we just want you to
I know we’ve been misrepresented in this (by our own behavior), but please know that
behavior is not our priority for you, and neither is your adoption of our beliefs. The only thing we want is for you to experience a relationship with God that will last forever, and wherein you will be happier than you could ever be otherwise.
If we do push for certain behaviors in our culture – and I speak for myself, although I suspect other Christians feel this way – it’s so our kids (and everyone, really, but mainly our kids) won’t have unGodly examples lived out before them. We hate for our kids, whom we want to know and walk with God, to have to overcome cultural norms that are displeasing to God. Lifestyle models in a culture are huge in shaping values for its children. We just want our kids to have an advantage in this way when possible.
3. We don’t identify with a certain political party; no party can accurately represent us.
Our identity is in Christ, and in Him alone.
Nothing in this world can contain Him. Whatever earthly thing He enters, He destroys and gives new life. Even the human heart, which is really the only thing He came to indwell, He doesn’t improve, but makes new. Old things pass away when we are born again, and we become new. Jesus used the analogy of new wine and old wineskins (Luke 5) to illustrate the impossibility of fitting God’s kingdom into worldly systems. Human governments and political parties are like old wineskins. Jesus didn’t come to overthrow Rome and establish His government in its place, which was the expected mission of the Messiah in the context of first century Judea. And He doesn’t offer us a political platform, liberal or conservative. He offers us eternal life, and the promise of guiding us, by His Spirit, through the challenges we face in this life.
4. When we disagree with you, we still love you just as much as if we agreed.
One of the most frustrating things for us is when people equate approval and affirmation with love. Which means that, if we disagree with you, we hate you. We aren’t going to affirm
someone’s immoral lifestyle choices that God has made clear in His Word are unacceptable to Him. We cannot condone what God says is wrong, even if the whole world says it’s right. As much as we are called to love you, we are called to love God first. If you require that we either love you and your sin, or hate you and your sin, I’m sorry. We must exercise a third option: we will love you and call your sin what it is. Wrong. But it isn’t wrong because it’s your sin. Our sin is wrong too. There’s a misused adage: Love the sinner; hate the sin. I tell my Christian brothers and sisters it’s fine to take that approach as long as we begin by hating our own sin.
Jesus instructed His followers to love even their enemies. That’s the standard of love to which we are called. I’m sorry that we haven’t always lived that out, but that’s our intention to do so.
I hope this helps Non-Christians better understand Christians. But I’m not so naive to believe this one blog post clears it all up. Maybe it can instigate discussion. Please let me know your thoughts.