Would you believe that I haven’t always been a Christian? In fact, throughout high school and college I didn’t even want to talk about God.
Hypocrites pushed me away from faith.
Can you relate?
People push people away from church. If you listen to someone talk about why they don’t believe in God or why they don’t go to church, they usually share incidents that happened with other human beings, not God. Often they experienced Christians who were not authentic, and said one thing yet did another.
Thankfully I met a few people at a pivotal point in my life who were the opposite. They were real. They didn’t judge. They didn’t pretend to be perfect. They didn’t force their faith on me, but they weren’t afraid to boldly represent their love for God either. Because of them I ran back into the church with a thirst to learn more.
Many Christians are responsible for pushing people away from God. My challenge to those of us who say we are Christians is start acting like it. In order to attract others to his greatness, we need to be intentional with our faith. And here are three ways we can start living it out.
1. We Need To Stop Judging People
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matt 7:3).
Being a good judge of character is not a bad thing. Bad judging, the judging that is prideful and malicious towards another human being, is bad.
I’m guilty. Initial judgment pops into my heart probably just as much now as it did when I wasn’t a Christian. I judge unhealthy people, I judge rich people, and I judge people when I go to Walmart. The difference now is that I pause to check myself. With Jesus is in my heart, I’m forced to stop, think and see the heart in everyone just as He always does. I’ll admit, sometimes this is really hard.
We were born sinners. It’s hard to eliminate emotions that come naturally. We can however, change how we internalize them. We can stop judging others and consider maybe they just don’t know the good news of Jesus yet. Or maybe they mean well but are having an extremely bad day and were caught at the wrong time. Maybe their heart is good but we need to hear their story.
How many times have you met someone who gave you a bad first impression? So bad you didn’t want to be around them? Then you got to know them and now you’re great friends. My wife thought I was cocky the first time she met me. I was so nervous I didn’t talk. At first, she associated me being quiet to being cocky. Thankfully, she sought me out and was able to see straight to my heart. She gave me a chance. Just like Jesus did.
What really helps to stop judging people is when you are reminded that you’re not perfect.
2. We Need To Stop Acting Like We’re Perfect
Many believers understand this major point: we are not perfect. Jesus was the only one who will ever claim that title. If we acknowledge how messed up we are, we are propelled to grow stronger in our faith because of how much we know we NEED God in our lives. Church should not be a place to celebrate our perfections, but more like a hospital to get another prescription of much needed medicine.
Sometimes people will put on fronts and facades just so you think they have it altogether. We assume because we see Facebook and Instagram lined with happy family photos, that they must have the perfect marriage and children. This is why it’s really good for us to share our vulnerabilities, be transparent, and be authentic.
While we should encourage each other to be pumped up Christians and get excited about the blessings of God and what He’s doing in our lives, we just also need to be real and share that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I don’t have a perfect marriage. I’m not a perfect husband or father. I don’t always have a loving heart.
Listen to what the apostle Paul says:
But He (Jesus) said to me. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)
There’s power in being genuine and real. When we are honest about our struggles and challenges, it not only forces us to heal and grow on a personal level, but it also draws people near to us—and in turn, to Jesus.
The relatability from sharing our vulnerabilities will make us stronger and move us to become higher impact Christians for those around us. Plus it separates us from acting like everyone else.
3. We Need To Stop Acting Like Everyone Else
Jesus said, “The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.” (Matthew 23: 1-3)
Churches are like gyms. Millions of members are attending, but only a small percentage look like it.
We need to stop blending in with the crowds.
How many of you go to church on Sundays but don’t live any differently Monday through Saturday?
Is your language is still the same?
Do you still road rage?
Do you still gossip?
Do you spend your money lavishly?
Do you cheat on your spouses?
Do you over drink?
Do you get into fights?
The list could go on. Mistakes are inevitable. We’re not perfect. But as we progress into a new level of faith, our mistakes should start dwindling. It’s just like in fitness, when you first join the gym you start off slow. You ease into change. You go through phases and it takes time to get from level one to level three.
But over time if you aren’t making any progress, then it’s time to apply more effort and take it up a notch. Eventually, if you want to get in the best shape of your lives then you need to kick your old habits and adopt new ones. Same goes for your faith.
People should know within five minutes of talking with you that you are a Christian. Or how about this, they should at least know that something is different about you. Others should be able to see, hear, and feel it pretty quickly. When you’re rocked by the love and grace of Jesus Christ, your actions, demeanors, and behaviors show it.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
Are you ready to get to the next level?
I know I am. I’m guilty of all three of these offenses. So writing and sharing these words also serves as a strategy to push me forward. I need to practice what I preach. Let’s hold each other accountable.
Speaking of, my friend Pastor John Jacobs (one of the people that I mentioned earlier that changed my life forever) and I will be putting on a special event in just a few weeks called Live It Out: Because It’s Not About You. He hasn’t always been a pastor, and I haven’t always been a preacher trainer. Wait until you hear our crazy story.
Save the date for May 5, 7pm at FMU. We’re going to share our story and how God has been working in our lives ever since we stepped out in faith just a few years ago. Plus you’ll hear the principles and action steps we’ve discovered that have truly taken our relationship with Jesus to the next level. It will be a fun and worship filled night to inspire and challenge you to gain more from your life.
Because who knows. There may be someone that hasn’t heard the message like this before. There’s a lost person out there just like old Theo, waiting to meet a Christian that doesn’t judge, that doesn’t act like they’re perfect, and that doesn’t act like everyone else. And that person may be you.
It’s not about you, but it starts with you.
Live it out today. And it may just be an absolute game-changer for you and everyone in your life.
Coach Theo and Coach Amber