#45 – Perception Is Everything Our perception of others is often the means by which we judge them. If this holds true how are we being perceived as Christians and what are we doing to help or hinder that perception?
Ryan: Don't be the one who hides from representing what Christ is all about.
How do non-Christians perceive Christians, or more importantly why do they perceive us the way that they do? This is such a huge question in our society. Our culture is driven by what others think or might think of us. One hour spent watching television would tell you that, with the type of marketing that is used to influence us to purchase and use products. So if we can be so driven to drive the next greatest vehicle on the market to impress others with our status and we can be so obsessed with what we are wearing just at the chance that someone may actually care that we are wearing the same outfit that Cameron Diaz wore last week, why is it that we could not seem to care less about what others think of our faith. It saddens me that we are living in such a narcissistic society. Our obsession with ourselves has caused us to loose sight of others and maybe even the people that are the closest to us.
If there is one thing that bothers me more than anything it is this; people who love to claim their faith in Christ and their religious affiliation only to live a lifestyle that could not contradict what they are claiming to be any more. Oddly enough it is usually these people that are the most vocal about their devotion to Christ, making sure that everyone knows that they are a Christian. It is people such as this that teach those around us that Christians are nothing more than a bunch snotty, holier than thou, judgmental hypocrites. Just this week I had a conversation with a woman who was dealing with this sort of hypocrisy. She worked with a man who has frequently confronted her about her Catholic beliefs, yet it has always been in a very attacking way. She has no faith in the church or anything that is presented as Christian because of people such as this man who would quite forcefully let others know how wrong they were but living a life that completely contradicted what he was telling others. They reason that this man put such a sour taste in her mouth about Christians and the church is because he was dating and sleeping with two different people that also worked with them while neither one was aware that they were being two timed. She told me that he had made the comment that because he was saved he did not have to worry about what he did because he was forgiven. His twisted theology was causing those around him to see Christianity as a fraud.
What makes this even worse as far as I am concerned is the fact that this man is supposedly in school right now to become a pastor. If this is the direction that the church is taking then we indeed are in serious trouble. People need to realize that we cannot take a narcissistic attitude toward Christianity. Jesus did not come and say live your life as if it were all about you. Take care of number one and everything will be ok. In no way was this the message of Christ, He came and broke the law down to two things and neither one has anything to do with a me-centered attitude. When asked what the greatest commandment was his answer was two-fold.
Commandment number one: Love the Lord you God with all of your heart.
Commandment number two: Love your neighbor as yourself.
If we could figure these two things out and live our lives by these two very simple laws we would begin to see people come to the Lord in huge numbers. People would see Christians as people that actually cared about their hurts and needs, their fears and problems. They would see us as sincere people who have something genuine that they are searching for in a relationship with the one true God. And if all of this were to happen people would see less of the Christian who is all about themselves looking for someone to judge, put down, chastise, and disregard as not worth the time or effort.
Ask yourself this: If I am to be Christ like, would he stand on the corner with a bullhorn yelling at people about how they are going to burn for eternity in hell if they don't repent? Now you may be saying, "yeah those idiots give us a bad name but take a moment and think about how we can portray the same attitude as bullhorn guy with something as simple a look. Our scowls at people who may be living a horrible life of sin is very much in the same way telling those people that we feel they are inferior. The beauty of Christ is that he came to die for everyone and he came because he loves everyone. And for those of you who maybe weren't sure, everyone means everyone, even the homosexual drug addict who is prostituting their children for their next high.
As Christians we have for far too long locked ourselves away from the big bad world in hopes that it will just go away. We hide in our churches on Sunday liking the fact that we are in our comfort zone and see no need to look outside the church for those that might need to hear what we have to say or what we have been given in a relationship with Christ.
Final Thought: Don't be the one who hides, allowing the misrepresentation of Christ to continue as the perception of what Christians and Christianity is all about.
Posted July 10, 2007 | Ryan is currently a student at Northwest University and is working toward his degree in Pastoral ministries.
Good message| Posted August 10, 2007
It's a great message for people to learn. I know that I can be judgemental sometimes, even if it isn't outright. But the truth is that the only thing that makes us different from the world is grace. A phrase I heard before comes to mind: We're not better, just forgiven. Good job!