Christianity, according to polls, is the largest religion in the world. But this survey is too simplistic. There is so much more to the faith than just a simple declaration of beliefs, than just going to church on Sundays, donating to the church, than this short period of piety for most during the holy week…
There is more to being a Christian than that.
Proof of this is how professing “Christians” roll their eyes when their fellow believers share their faith. They challenge and discourage those who preach the Bible while writing in their bio-data that they are of the faith.
Also, there are many who are only “partially Christian” – they take the principles they like in the Bible and then throw away the rest. They say they believe that Jesus is God, but they hang on to their 2nd and 3rd wives.
Then there are those who are just naturally superstitious and just happen to be born in a Christian background. While I was recently watching the fight between Pacquiao and Bradley in a restaurant, one “Christian” remarked before the results were announced: “Manny, you better make the sign of the cross or you will lose again…”
These are the fillers to the said number of Christians in the world. They’re the fence-sitters who like to see what’s going in the church but would rather not be involved. They’re those who don’t bother with the deepest things of God and are more concerned with their image. I’m not referring to these Christians.
The Christians referred to in this article are those who believe in the Bible as the only source of knowledge for faith. Those who live out what they regularly meditate on in Scripture. Those who deeply believe that there is only one God: the God of Israel who sent His only Son, Jesus, to be the final sacrifice for sins. Those who believe that Jesus lives to this day and will soon return to keep His promise of a new heaven and earth. Those who use all God’s gifts to bring back glory to Him and to share the gospel.
These are the Christians of old led by the same Holy Spirit. They’re the real deal.
So why does the general population, including the Church’s own members, dislike them? If you’re one of those who have always been wondering why you feel that way, below are 10 possible reasons.
1. Christians are excited about the thought of the end of the world.
While most of the world are ecstatic about a better world that is coming through science, technology and man – the believer looks forward to the day that it will crumble and die. Christians believe in this because Jesus did prophesy about it. They don’t wish for everyone and everything to be destroyed, actually. They just long to see a world without poverty, sickness, evil and death just like everyone else.
Needless to say, there are those who who primarily preach this not out of love and joy, but out of frustration because of their failures in this world.
2. Christianity calls for a holy life.
There’s just no escape from this. The Bible is clear, the struggle against the evil within will always be on the shoulder of the believer. It’s a struggle because its going against the tough grain of the human heart that just loves the flesh and the world. But Jesus paid for the price once and for all, there is no need for condemnation. Christians are free to be good and holy. Nothing separates them from the love and presence of God no matter what happens. Its like a huge free buffet with an endless supply of forgiveness, love and the power of God. And He Himself paid for the bill.
3. Christianity requires a lot of work.
The misconception is that once one becomes a Christian, there is no longer anything else to be done. The result is backsliding (going back to the old life). The call of the faith is a call to God’s work. The believer will be encouraged to be mobilized in church, to serve. He will be guided to meditate on the Bible regularly, to pray unceasingly, to share the gospel to friends and family, to preach, to teach, to feed the poor, to give… The list is endless. No this faith is not a dead end. Its a new way of life. The God Christian’s serve will not make you idle and lazy. He will turn you into someone you never thought you could be.
4. Christianity will demand your time.
Whether its attending a small group, a prayer meeting or teaching – the Church will not only ask for you to walk down the aisle or to just raise a hand and shed a few tears. The Church will ask you to replace all the useless things in your schedule with what pleases God.
5. The Church will ask you to part with your money without apology.
Jesus was clear in Scripture: you cannot love both God and money. He taught in plain language to give to the poor, the widows, the orphans and the harassed. He knows the dangers of being attached to the things in this world. He intends to replace that with Himself – the source of life. Does this mean that we ought to live like cavemen? No. Jesus simply teaches that you should be the master of your money, not the other way around.
Sadly, this is also Jesus’ teaching that most wolves in sheep’s clothing love to use.
There are many false teachers out there that look legit but are really just after your money. They would ask for it in exchange for wealth, promotion, health and power. They appear like the real thing as they preach, but a close examination of the Bible always reveals what they really are.
6. The Church will ask you to put God first.
Jesus teaches even to this day to love God above all else, and then others second. He also teaches that if you had to choose between God and friends, family, job, wealth, even health – you gotta choose God. He may appear cruel as He asks this from us, but it really is a test of faith that all Christians go through. Think about it, if we really believe that God is all powerful, good and wise – then why could we not believe that He will take care of all other matters when we put Him first?
7. Christianity makes its followers appear weak and lame.
Jesus’ teachings on radical love and forgiveness, even towards enemies, is an offense to most who prefer instant justice. For the shallow others, brotherly love hints of secret homosexuality. The shameful cases of sexual abuse in the Church today committed by its leaders are only confirming these concerns… But loving unconditionally, loving the unlovable and loving even one’s enemies are also acts of faith that Jesus taught. Apparently, the kind of love that God revealed is much more bigger than what man is capable of doing. And how about justice when we’re wronged? Again, the answer is faith. Why take matters in your own hands when you have an all-powerful God who is always present and knows the perfect timing for everything? This is one of the most difficult struggles of being a Christian.
8. Christians teach God-confidence, never self-confidence.
This, I think, is the area where believers today are encountering the most resistance and persecution. The world today advocates relativism and self-sufficiency. Everyone is free to choose what they want to follow because everyone is now the god of their lives. Each person is taught to depend on themselves for everything, even things about God, which explains everything that is morally wrong in the world today. And where does that leave God? Outside of everyone’s life. No one today will readily accept that God is the source of every good and right thing.
Unfortunately, this idea has infiltrated the Church too.
Most Christian believe that they can force God to give them something as long as they believe in their mental capacity to think positive. This reduces God into a mindless genie (for more on that, click here.) The Bible is quite clear though, all its heroes depended solely on God and not on positive thinking or self-confidence. When they asked God for something, they asked like the servants that they were. Not like CEOs calling on the logistics department.
9. Christians breed fanatics.
The believers have no one to blame here but themselves. God is all about balance and fairness in Scriptures.
He only lifted this balance and fairness when the time came for Jesus to die on the cross. In that case, things became unfair – for God.
But everything else about God’s teachings encourages balance.
For example, Jesus teaches that no one who puts family first before Him is worthy of Him. Does this mean that we should abandon our kids for Him? Of course not. Because He also showed multiple times that He loves kids (and they loved him) and even His own mother. He even warned everyone who would make little children stumble in their innocence (he was also referring here to the believers with child-like faith). The ancient church also emphasized love for family. So, putting these together, this means that in our struggle to provide for our families, we should always remember that God and His work is more important than the things of this world.
But the fanatics, they get one or two teachings, focus on it and ignore all other teachings that are meant to balance it. This is why we have Christians who are racists, who are hateful, who are discriminating with their spiritual gifts, who follow false Christs and who recklessly spread their selective ideas to the disadvantage of the Church.
10. Christians elevate God above science.
Science is actually a religion nowadays that even the atheists bow to. But for the Christian, science only proves the existence of God. Any discovery by science was made by God and serves a purpose in His plan. There are many other things in the world that God created and is only waiting to be discovered. And if there is anything about the faith that science could not accept, it’s only because science is dealing with Someone that they could not possibly measure.
When Stephen Hawking declared, “There is no need for theology… There is no God…”
The Christians answered, “It is because our God is too big for your devices, your theories, your formulas and your equations… And He requires something that your science can’t grasp: Faith.”
It’s a never-ending debate. But does this mean that the Christian doesn’t enjoy science and technology? We do! But its just that we see a higher purpose to it all: it all points to Jesus, our Maker and Creator.
And the Church goes on…
These are just some of the reasons why Christians are disliked. And we know that its not going to change. Its something that we have to live with. Its part of the cross that we have to bear. And we do so joyfully for our Lord who took our place on the cross.
This faith that we have will continue, despite the regular attacks we receive. Why? Because this faith is not of this world. And the God who nurtures it is beyond this world.
A Jewish leader, Gamaliel, did well when he said this in a deliberation among Jewish leaders on what to do with the apostles in Acts 5:35-39:
“…be careful about what you’re going to do with these men… Leave them alone… For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God… you may be even found fighting against God…”
2000 years later, the Church of Jesus still stands.