Have you ever wondered what its like behind the scenes at the Customer Service call center? This is a stressful way to make a living, because the call center deals largely with people who are upset and just want what they want. Rare is it when someone calls Customer Service with realistic understanding of what the organization offers, and level-headed expectations of the customer’s role in the product or service. This analogy is somewhat what it is like for a Christian, when non-Christians level mean-spirited accusations and angry complaints about Christians, churches and God. Christians are often treated like God’s customer service call center operators.
If the worst of one’s treatment as a Christian is that unknowing people visit unrealistic expectations upon you, and get upset, call you names and such… you’re fortunate. It’s not martyr-syndrome, but rather what Jesus told us to expect. When you become a Christian, you’re signing up to take incoming fire up to and including giving your life. Think about the Christians in orange jumpsuits being paraded down the Libyan beach by ISIS terrorists, preparing to be executed… that is what Christians have historically
faced. Much like the Islamists today, the Jewish leaders dealing with the birth of the church despised Christ’s followers. To confess Christ as the Messiah was blasphemy, and they would react violently. The deaths at the hands of Isis were very much like the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
Acts 7:54-60 (NLT)
54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage.
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him
58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
When being a Christian is popular, many people call themselves Christians, but never enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s pejorative, but the vernacular for these “believers” is CHINO – Christians in Name Only. Chinos talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. No one can look into someone else’s heart and know if they believe or don’t. Believers, particularly mature believers, are usually strong enough in their faith to show it in their walk. They fail, but they still try to make their walk match their talk. At the first sign of opposition, or temptation, a Chino will abandon the pretense of a Christian walk. They may have told the world that they are a Christian, but when it came right down to it, they never really were.
In Luke 14:28, Jesus likens the uncommitted follower to one who goes unplanned into a large undertaking,
Luke 14:28 (NLT)
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?
Jesus continues, using the unfinished building as a teaching tool. Many Christian seekers do not count the cost of following Jesus, and their unfinished discipleship stands as a monument to their failure. Faith and trust, obedience and sacrifice are all required of one who would call themselves a Christ-follower. Those who don’t count these costs, never actually believe ON Him, because they never sincerely believed IN Him. Francis Chan has an excellent 11-minute video that teaches the meaning of counting the cost.
It may be tempting to write off all the unpleasant encounters that non-Christians have had on shallow, uncommitted believers; tempting but not true. Regardless of how committed someone is to their relationship with Christ, they still fall short. Non-believers, new-believers, shallow-believers, and the hard-core believing faithful all fall short. When someone is looking at another person, they are all flesh, and all fall short. Believers fail, but when they fail they seek and receive forgiveness
Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,
26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Yet another reason that non-believers tag Christians with tags like “hater” and “hypocrite” is that there is something in the non-believer’s life that isn’t compatible with the Bible. These accusers may have libertine sexual appetites, enjoy using foul language, prefer dishonesty and unaccountability, or have an affinity for another type of sin. Rather than dealing with the Bible head-on, they desire to excuse themselves from known sin by transferring blame onto Christians. This, by the way, is an unnecessary and eternally deadly approach to God. They think they are facing judgement and harshness, but instead receive love and God’s forgiveness. Jesus agonized over those who rejected him, pridefully clinging to their heavy burdens.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
“Christians are not sinless, but hopefully they sin less” is an old preacher’s adage. It means that Jesus comes alongside the seeker and meets her/him where they are. I’ve counseled believers saved from substance abuse, sexual deviancy, financial crimes, moral turpitude crimes, liars and just about every other evil someone can participate. Everyone who sought salvation was saved. Regardless of their sins, all were forgiven. Rather than being judged, they were loved. I have my own fair share of sin in my life, and if I had to clean it up before being saved, salvation would never have happened.
Finally, I want to address selfishness and why it is a good thing when you’re talking about your own salvation. Having decades inside the church, I know there are plenty of cantankerous Christians, Chinos, weird ideas, infighting, judgmental people, and unloving people inside the Body of Christ. There also many dearly caring, compassionate, generous, humble, honorable, loving and sacrificial people in Christ’s Body as well. I praise God for growing me to a place of maturity to where I can accept the difficult Christians and love them just as much as the ones with wonderful hearts and personalities. Even if I didn’t have the spiritual maturity, I know that I have selfishness about my own salvation, and I will not allow difficult people to keep me away from being in community with the Body of Christ. No one and no thing, will I allow to get in between me and Jesus.
When people say or post things to the effect of “Why are Christians such hateful hypocrites?” I hope this blog makes it easier for someone to understand. Christians are not Jesus, and yes, some of them are hateful hypocrites. Others who are hateful hypocrites are Christians in name only, and have no skin in the deal when non-believers are looking. I hope believers will read this and run toward Christ to improve their walk. I home non-believers will read this and realize that people are not God, and your salvation does not depend on His fan club. Christians are unqualified to be God’s customer service call center.