Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. A couple of years ago he wrote an article titled What Non-Christians Really Think About Christians. He interviewed unbelievers to get their perspectives of Christians. I will share one of these comments followed by an anonymous quote that highlights the observation.
Christians are against more things than they are for. “It just seems to me that Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other. They are so negative that they seem unhappy. I have no desire to be like them and stay upset all the time.”
In some respects we are guilty as charged. Over the centuries and even today Christians, or at least those who claim to be, have said and done some of the most stupid things in the name of Christ. We need to be more understanding of those who do not know Christ as we do
This past week some in the Christian community got upset when astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson tweeted on Christmas Day, “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.” Those Christians who were angered by this are missing two important points. First, this statement is true, and second; Sir Isaac Newton was one of the greatest Christians to have ever lived. I saw this as a great opportunity to tweet Neil Tyson, “@neiltyson Thank you for reminding us that one can be both a great scientist and a great Christian.”
We get a bad rap from those who in ignorance misrepresent what we actually do believe, and those antagonists who mock and mischaracterize our intentions, but do we have to add fuel to the fire by acting insulted at every trifle. Christians need to wake up and smell the coffee and quit taking the bait. Non-believers will act like non-believers until they become believers, and it is a waste of our time and energy getting upset with them. Jesus taught us to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44. That is not just a Christian cliché; it is a command.
While I am at it let me say something about persecution. When we are ridiculed for our faith it is a form of persecution, but before we whine about it let us remember it is nothing in comparison to what our first century brothers and sisters were subjected to, or what our fellow believers experience today in China where they are politically oppressed, and in Africa and Islamic nations where they are often tortured and martyred for their faith.
We are to defend what we believe, but not in a mean and hateful way. He are called to speak “the truth in love,” the truth that man is a sinner and lost without Christ will be offensive enough.