Don’t you hate it when Christianity is painted with a broad brush — that it’s just a bunch of televangelists with carefully coifed hair scamming vulnerable people for money, Pat Robertson claiming to speak for God and saying embarrassing things in the media, Westboro “Baptist Church” picketing funerals and claiming that God hates fags? Many years ago, Catholics tortured and killed people during the Inquisition and then there is the Crusades (regardless of what atrocities led up to them). Christians are seen as hicks, hypocrites, money-grubbers, judgmental, bigots, hateful, intolerant, and even murderers.
I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with Christianity either.
But, three things, first, not everyone who says and does things in the name of God are true believers. Fred Phelps and his family who make up Westboro Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas are not a true Christian church, nor are they Baptist. They are a cult, led by an insane man. Many people in this country, some knowingly and some unknowingly, use this cult as propaganda that Christians are hateful and bigots.
I watched a video (For The Bible Tells Me So) a few years ago that many liberal churches were airing about the “intolerance” of evangelical Christians towards gay people and Westboro Church was one of their big examples of the so-called hatred in mainstream evangelicalism. The Westboro cult no more represents evangelicals than the soldier who killed several Afghanis represent the rest of our military. I would contend that it is intellectually dishonest to use Westboro as an example of evangelical Christian hatred for gay people. Everyone knows they are nutcases. And since Christ commands us to love our neighbor, we are commanded to love gay people. Saying that evangelicals hate gay people is simply a lie. There may be individual exceptions to that but as a whole, it is not in our theology to hate anyone.
Second, if these other “Christian representatives” are true believers, they have gone their own way and even preach a false gospel. Many televangelists are false teachers as they preach the prosperity gospel and positive thinking as Biblical, which they are not. They have their own greedy agendas.
The Catholic Inquisition had nothing to do with true Christianity but was about protecting “the Church” and the positions of power that it had. If you look at how Jesus lived His life on earth and what He taught, there is nothing Christ-like about some of the atrocities done in His name.
Thirdly, when I behave badly — react to someone in anger, become prideful, have critical thoughts towards someone, refuse to forgive — I am giving in to my flesh and not submitting to the Spirit of Christ living in me. Christians are human beings who fail probably daily at having the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.”) evident in their lives. What Christians DO have is forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s help in imitating Christ. If Christians all acted perfectly, we wouldn’t need Christ. We are sinners in need of grace and because we have the indwelling of the Spirit after expressing faith in Christ and making Him Lord of our lives, we are covered by the shed blood of Christ on Calvary.
Lastly, many people have left the church and the faith because of other Christians. I understand why and how that happens. But, the biggest mistake anyone could make is to leave the Jesus of the Bible in the process. Reject the badly behaving Christians, but don’t reject Christ. Don’t add false teaching into your beliefs. Flee any church that is not representing Christ properly, but don’t run into the waiting arms of false teachers who are more than eager to lead you down their deceptive path.
Run to Jesus. Study the book of John and study who He really is and accept Him.
I wish that Christians, including myself, were better representatives of Christ. Some of us are trying because we know the world is watching. But please do not reject the hope of salvation only brought through Jesus Christ.