I feel that I’m an authority on the topic of people hating Christians. After all, I was a pastor’s kid, went to a Christian school, played in church bands my entire life… I’ve seen my fair share of Christians, both real and fake.
What I’ve discovered over the years is that there are really three types of Christians. The most common is the “Membership Christian.” These are people who go to church because of the social connection. They might somewhat believe Jesus lived and they probably believe you should be a “good person,” but mostly they’re there for the free donuts and the friends. If the pastor preaches something that hits them a little too close, they might just leave for greener pastures, or they might just tune him out. Actually living a faith-filled Christian life is not something that interests Membership Christians.
The second type of Christians are the “Functional Christians.” These are people who do believe in God, in Jesus, the resurrection, etc. At the same time, they understand that the “world” as Christians like to call it does not relate to weirdos. A Functional Christian believes that the way they should witness is by living THEIR OWN LIFE in a Christian way. After all, the Bible says that “by their fruit you shall know them.” In other words, if someone’s a Christian, they shouldn’t have to tell people, it should be obvious. Functional Christians have many unsaved friends, who are drawn to the Functional Christian because they like what they see…
The third type of Christians are the ones that get all the press, because frankly, they’re the most annoying. These are the Standards Christians. Standards Christians are extremely focused on rules, regulations, and standards. They take the verse “avoid every appearance of evil” to mean that they shouldn’t do anything that could ever be construed by ANYONE to be bad. They don’t watch R rated movies (which they arbitrarily picked even though PG-13 movies often have tons of crap in them), the men keep their hair short, they don’t listen to “secular” music, and they certainly don’t drink or dance.
The problem with Standards Christians is twofold. First, they NEVER think that they themselves are judgmental. Ever. In all my years, I’ve never met a Standards Christian that would ever acknowledge being one. Second, they look down their nose at anyone who does not follow their rules, regulations, and standards.
Of course, Jesus himself never looked down his nose at anyone. He didn’t judge people who were sinners, he forgave them (something which only he can do). Jesus understood that you can’t draw an unbeliever in by treating them like a second-class citizen. That’s why he spent his time with the sick, the prostitutes, and the tax collectors (the real dirtbags of his time).
Standards Christians are on a quest. They want everyone to follow their phoney-baloney-made-up rules. They try to impose them on everyone they meet, even if they’re doing it by quietly passing judgment on people. You see, quietly passing judgment is their way of guilt-tripping people into becoming a believer.
Have you ever heard the term “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar?” Well, Standards Christians are vinegar.
Unfortunately if you were to break it down into percentages, you’d probably get something like 60% Membership Christians, 10% Functional Christians, and 30% Standards Christians. That means for someone on the outside looking in, 60% of the Christians look like hypocrites and 30% look like judgmental morons. That can’t be attractive to a non-Christian.
And it isn’t attractive. It’s evident from the national reaction to Christians. The media mocks Christians. Non-believers always claim hypocrisy and judgmentalism – and rightly so.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to refrain from judgmental behavior, from hypocrisy, and from phoney standards. This means not looking down our noses at people who are non-believers or who are doing something against our beliefs. It really is God’s job to judge people’s souls. We can know right from wrong without judging… those are two different things. We also have to refrain from hypocrisy. That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, it means that we can’t say one thing and do another. If we have a problem with alcohol, then for Incredipete’s sake, we can’t go around telling people drinking is wrong!
And finally, we can’t try to impose phoney standards. I often heard the term “higher standards” when I was growing up. “We Christians need to have a higher standard.” What exactly does that mean? A higher standard than Christ? People who use that term are deluding themselves. Being Christ-like isn’t a set of rules. To say that it is misses the entire point of what Jesus tried to teach us by his example.
What would Jesus do? He’d start by not sinning (which he was good at), follow that with some teaching to anyone who WANTS to hear about Christianity, and finish it off with some good old fashioned wine and dancing.
To the non-Christians reading this, I’d ask you not to lump all Christians together. We’re not all the same, just as all non-Christians aren’t the same. There are churches out there that teach love, forgiveness, and kindness.