Thanks to social media, it has been increasingly easy to gain insight into the minds of those who follow Christ. Our reflexes have become increasingly sharp in posting memes that require others to “share and like” if one really loves Jesus. Or, perhaps, we post pictures of church signs that contain some well-intentioned message. Then the truly stalwart Christians post news stories showing the evil of the world and decry the wickedness of humanity.
Take just a moment and look at this from a different perspective. Look at these things as a lost person would.
Many of the memes posted about Christianity are either based on hoaxes (if I see one more post about Proctor & Gamble and Satanism I will scream), or have enough grammatical errors and misspellings to make an English teacher openly weep. And as for the church signs? The grammar and spelling applies here as well, but perhaps worse is the fact that most have horribly painful puns that no one outside of the church actually thinks are funny.
Many of the things believers do to make their point to the lost world around them is a lot like showing family photos to a stranger. They have no point of reference for what they are seeing because they have no personal investment. They don’t know the people, they don’t know where it took place, and because they have no reason for context they really aren’t all that interested. That’s when the outrage begins on our part. “Why don’t they enjoy looking at these pictures and hearing these stories? What kind of cold-hearted, insensitive people are they?”
The funny thing is that is precisely what the world is asking about Christians.
The world around us doesn’t know us. Sure, they know some things, but they generally aren’t the best representations of us. They know caricatures, extremes on both sides of Christianity, that certainly do not represent the true nature of following Christ. “That’s because they haven’t taken the time to get to know us!” we say indignantly. “They don’t know me as a person, but they’re making assumptions about me!”
You see where this is going, don’t you?
Jesus was rebuked because He spent time with tax collectors, harlots, and anyone else He could find. The religious leaders of the day spat that He was a “friend of sinners” (Matt. 11:19). Jesus spent time with people so that they might come to know Him and therefore have a context for what He had to say. Jesus knew exactly who He was ministering to—He was God in the flesh, after all—but He nonetheless went out of His way to interact at a close, personal level.
In our zeal to push back against an immoral culture, we have pushed away the very people Jesus has called us to reach. We are so shocked and saddened by the lack of a moral compass in people’s lives that we have thrown them to the wilds instead of helping them find their way. We are in the world and not of it, make no mistake, but we are still in it. Jesus said that as we were going about life we were to be making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). As we go about the life God gives us, we will meet people who are lost without Christ. We need to stop being so surprised people without a compass get lost and then we mock their lostness. Instead, we need to graciously provide them with the knowledge of how to get on the right path, remembering that people generally accept directions better from someone they believe actually knows the way.