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September 10, 2008

Back to Jesse’s comment from two weeks ago (I need to make time to blog more).

We’re not loving people. What do you think is causing this? What’s the solution?

Dozens, if not hundreds, of things are causing Christians to fail to love people. UnChristian was one of the first sources to really blow this thing open. Much to my surprise, researchers also pointed out that most people’s bad opinions of Christians are not based on national news stories of pastors fallen from glory, or obnoxious people protesting funerals. Most of the bad opinions people have about Christians comes from personal interactions with Christians or local churches that hurt them.

One woman was rejected by a local church because she’s unmarried and has a young daughter. One young man was rejected by a Christian friend when he confided his homosexuality. The stories go on and on, and each is unique. You can’t point at a handful of events, or a few bad publicity stunts and say, “This is why people hate us” because it’s not the case.

And, of course, the only solution is to love people. I agree that we need to identify our lack of love, face our own brokenness, and ask Christ for His heart for people. What I don’t agree with is the idea that we need to air our dirty laundry before the world, talk about other Christians as though they are failing us all, and feed the “Christians are jerks” flame.

1 Corinthians 6 tell us to judge ourselves. We don’t take our issues before “the ungodly;” we deal with it within the body.

It happens, but I do not believe it’s the norm. Most local churches, and most Christians – even in the west – are good, normal people. Most local churches are feeding their communities, and partnering with international aid organizations. Unless its a big deal, however, you don’t generally hear about it because it’s not a captivating news story.

For example, did anyone in Elgin – or even at Church in the Word – hear about the woman who found the Benevolence room last Sunday very late after the service? She had several children with her and explained that because of her husband’s struggles, they don’t have any food in the house. Our wonderful Benevolence ministry sent them home with bags of groceries, but did you hear about it?

It’s the same in our daily lives. Most Christians are nice people quietly going about their lives: working hard, maintaining their families, and being good neighbors. People don’t notice nice and quiet – Christian or not. People notice obnoxious and offensive. People ask “Who do you think you are?” and “Why?” when you irritate them, not when you drag their garbage can out of the street for them.

We need to just love people – and of course we can always love people more – and get used to the fact that the world is not going to recognize it most of the time. We don’t need to flaunt it, because our good works are not done primarily before men. At the same time, though, we don’t need to tell the people who wrongly assume that all Christians are horrible hypocrites that they’re right. Because they’re not.

I’m not saying we should fight it, get all riled up about the false accusations, etc. because sometimes it’s true and because God is our defense. Turn the other cheek, keep loving people better, apologize when you need to apologize, and move forward in humility.

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