Let’s take a virtual survey of the readers. How many of you have stopped doing something or going somewhere because of a negative experience? Here are some examples…
(1) Have you ever stopped going to a restaurant because the food was bad?
(2) Have you ever stopped going to a retail store because they failed to help you out?
(3) Have you ever stopped going to a certain car garage because of poor maintenance service?
(4) Have you ever stopped talking to someone because of how they treated you?
You see, we are people who live within the fabricated context of our own comfort zones. We like things a certain way and that’s cool. Yet, when we go to a restaurant, we expect decent food and when the food is bad, we choose to stay away from that establishment. The same is true for all of other questions listed above. If someone or something doesn’t fit our expectations, we are willing to take our business elsewhere.
In the context of Christianity, we have “expectations” of how we are to live. These expectations may very well be legalistic but some of those expectations are set forth from the very Word of God! Let’s get some things out of the way though. First, believers do not always live the way we are called. Right? We mess up and we fail, we fall down and screw up. I’ve done it, you’ve done and we don’t exactly reflect Jesus very well some of the times. For some of us, that might be most of the time.
I was sitting in church earlier today and the pastor discussed how there are a number of “baby” Christians out there who never grow up because they never get involved in Christian community or they never have anyone who is there to hold them accountable and sharpen them. That is a very true statement right there. We need other believers for growth, accountability and encouragement.
Yet, in spite of all our victories and shortcomings, the world around us finds reasons why not to believe in God and follow Christ. Here are some of those excuses I’ve heard and witnessed myself.
1] The Church is full of hypocrites.
I am not going to argue with that. Christians can be downright jerks; to the world around them and to each other. We sometimes stab one another in the chest and talk about each other behind peoples back. Christians preach one thing and do another. That’s hypocrisy 101. I am going to go ahead and give this one to those of you who choose not to follow God on the grounds that Christians don’t always live what they say. Here’s the point though-being a Christian isn’t about being perfect but pointing to the one who is perfect. Christianity isn’t about what we do but what Jesus did. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross and rose again. Christians, just like unbelievers, need Jesus.
2] Someone within the church hurt me in some way.
This one hits close to home for me because I know the effects this can have on people. I know someone who was the victim of abuse. It’s unfortunate that it happens but it does. Christians are recovering hypocrites, plain and simple. Sometimes people, believers and unbelievers, abuse their power and place of influence. It sucks too. That’s life though. We live in an imperfect world and we are imperfect people. Being and claiming to Christianity does not mean we have achieved the inability to never sin again; rather, we simply are forgiven and are position in the right standing before God. The issue here is that the focus is taken off Jesus and placed upon the short comings of a person. Those short comings are the reason why Christ came though. He died in our place to remove our sins, once and for all. In the end, it won’t be about what someone did to you it will be about your faith and where you place it.
3] I am sick of “open air preaching.”
Yeah I hear ya, it can be kind of annoying huh? I remember a number of years ago, hearing someone yell out the need to, “Repent and turn to God or we would go to hell,” while I was on vacation with my friends in New York. As much as I don’t enjoy open air preaching, it’s actually in the Bible. John the Baptist did it, Jesus did it, although a lot of his open air preaching was directing against the religious leaders of the day. I mean, you can ask them to stop if you feel led to. Open air preaching is both biblical and is currently protected by the U.S Constitution.
4] I am sick and tired of hearing preachers and Christians tell me I need to repent or else I am going to hell.
Yeah, that one ranks up there with Mondays after a long weekend, huh? I know it’s never really fun to hear anyone tell us how to live our lives. I mean, get real- they don’t know us, they don’t know our story or our struggles. So, sure, makes perfect sense right? What if, though, they were actually telling the truth? What if, at the end of our lives, we actually do end up in hell for failure to respond to the message of Jesus? Would it make a difference? If it would, responding would be the appropriate reaction. Delaying may not be the best course of action.
5] The church is nothing more than a social club.
That, my friend, is sometimes true. The church can be a social club at times. The church can be quite exclusive to outsiders too. Sometimes, churches do a really good job at making people feel uncomfortable. We, the church in general, need to improve in that area. We are a family though. The church is a family of people who share common interests, attitudes and goals. Again, we’re not perfect, not by a long shot.
6] I don’t need religion; I am good enough on my own.
There’s a half-truth in that statement. We don’t need religion. Even in the Old Testament, religion wasn’t needed for anything. Noah, who built the ark, found favor in the eyes of God. There were no 10 Commandments to break. Abraham was called the friend of God and again there were no 10 Commandments to obey! Religion is a set of rules and regulations which often set impossible standards to follow. In that sense, we don’t religion but are we good enough? Where is the measuring stick for being good enough anyway? Who sets the standards? If I set the standard then I would, in my own nature, allow people I like to pass through even if they failed and others I would make fail. Hitler himself felt like he was doing the right thing in executing Jewish people. There needs to be a standard. If that standard is set by the Word of God then no one in this world is good enough. Only Jesus passed the test and only he is good enough. Trusting in him and his work is the only way to receive salvation.
7] Christians are so judgmental.
Are we judgmental? Some of us are for sure. Yet, sometimes we are simply standing up for what we believe in and loving people enough even though it comes across as intolerant and or judgmental. Again, Christian’s are not perfect; we are works in progress.
-Word to the Wise-
So, the world outside might point their finger at us and say this or that and they might use us as an excuse as to why they don’t follow God, but there is a deeper issue at the root of it all. Scripture is quite clear on this too. You see, the real reason people don’t follow God is this: they love the darkness.
“And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.”
It goes even deeper than men loving the darkness too…
“And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.”
Sinners are so in love with their darkness that they would rather call out to the rocks to hide them from the Lamb, rather than repent.
So hey Christians listen up! Our inconsistent lifestyles (not living in accordance with our new identity in Christ) does not bring glory and honor to Christ. The world around us sees those inconsistencies too and they utilize that as an excuse to not follow Christ.
We will be labeled as judgmental, intolerant Jesus freaks and we will face persecutions from the world but our call remains the same; we are to imitate Christ, love God and love others. We need to strive to be Christ like in everything we do and say.
We have an awesome God on our side who is in us working out his plan. We need to do this one thing-follow God. He needs to be first always.
There will be haters among us. There will be “Christians” who don’t mature and live out their potential. There will always be a million reasons why people choose not to be a Christian. We will be used an excuse sometimes.
The truth is that men love the darkness more than the light. As Christians, we need to love and imitate Christ more than we love and imitate the world.
7 Reasons Why I Am Not a Christian| Written by Mike Monica
All Scripture References taken from the New Living Translation (www.biblegateway.com)