Christians sometimes have a bad reputation because sometimes we live up to it. Though many Christ-followers have mimicked their leader by being generous, kind and self-sacrificing, others have worn the name of Christ while leading crusades against muslims, marching through military funerals ranting about doom or just generally being a jerk. For Christians who are concerned about our reflection on Christ to the world, nothing scares us quite so much as the idea that people are rejecting God-their only chance of hope in this life-because of our nasty attitude. The peaceful Indian leader, Gandhi, was a good man who missed out on a great God. Though I love his example and definitely believe he is someone we could all learn from, his quotes sometimes send shivers down my spine. Gandhi famously said,
Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians are not like him.
(Or, alternately: “I like your Christ, I dislike your Christians.” The quotes are somewhat debated, but the sentiment remains.) It is statements like this which frighten us most, and well they should! We need to be reminded, even if through harsh words from a Hindu, when we are not being Christ-like. Quotes like these spur us on to be better Christians, more like our Christ. They might pop into our minds when we’re talking to unbelieving friends, keeping us from gossiping or reminding us to control our tempers. They inspire us to love our neighbor by giving them a more accurate depiction of the love of God. However, I think we sometimes take this so seriously, we forget one very important part of our theology.
Though we are all innately evil (including those of us who come to know Christ,) people are never the enemy. Non-Christians are not my enemy and I am not their enemy. As a matter of fact, though we sometimes seem to have little in common and entirely different values, goals and agendas, we all have a common enemy.
Though Christians certainly need to learn some manners, our Facebook rants are not the source of all evil. Our hypocrisy and self-righteousness are sinful and may lead someone astray, but they are not what is sending souls to hell. All of these sins that pop up in our own lives (and I repeat: pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, gossip, bitterness, bad tempers, bad manners) are tools in the hand of the real enemy. John calls him “the thief.”
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10
If someone was wreaking havoc in your neighborhood, breaking into every home to rob, beat and murder you and your neighbors, would you not feel unified against this threat? Would you all sit down to have an argument or pity party about who left their door unlocked and who was unarmed? No! Everyone is being terrorized, everyone has a common enemy.
We must open our eyes to the real and present danger that is Satan. Guns are not the leading cause of death, nor cancer, drunk driving, illegal drugs or obesity. The leading and only cause of death is Satan. There was no death until he slithered in and death will be the last enemy conquered. You know what pulls kids away from church? Is it the style of our music or the inconsistencies in our lifestyles? Is it illicit behavior that’s now acceptable in high school? Pornography? Gang violence? Liberal media? Broken homes?
None of the above. The leading and only cause of people falling away from God is Satan. Likewise, he is also the cause of porn and violence and broken homes, but those are merely tools he uses to “steal, kill and destroy.”
So yes, be a nicer person. Look into your heart and make sure you are reflecting Christ in your lifestyle, words and actions. Let your friends and coworkers know that those who protest at funerals and leave nasty rants on Facebook have nothing to do with you and your God. But also keep in mind, we are not the enemy. And, when interacting with nonbelievers, remember that none of us are enemies at all. We share a common enemy. And then, do not neglect the next part of John 10:10, these words from our ideal and wonderful Christ,
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.