Here are four surefire ways to turn people off about believing in Christ.
I am going to paraphrase this, but I believe it was Gandhi who said something like, “I like Christ but His Christians don’t look very much like Him.” Perhaps it was because they weren’t very Christ-like. Maybe I should say “we” weren’t very Christ-like because I know that we all fall so far short of God’s holy standard (Romans 3:23), and that includes me! The Apostle Paul tries to help us keep our perspective and writes, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Even being God (Philippians 2:6), He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). How could we not be humbled by that!?
Have you ever heard someone trying to be self-righteous and judging others by their own standard and yet failed to live up to what they said? We can fool everyone we know, including those in the church, but we can’t fool God and ourselves. When we are saying one thing and living another, we can most certainly turn people off to Christianity.
Bearing Fleshly Fruits
When the world sees that we’re not that much different from them, then Christ doesn’t seem important to them. That sometimes makes them see religion as a crutch because they figure we’re just like they are. Of course, growing in holiness (sanctification) takes a lifetime and will never be completed this side of heaven; but when we are bearing more fruits of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) than we are fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we could be turning people away from Christ. They will see it as a “religion” instead of what it really is: a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I can remember being called a “Bible thumper” in my younger years, which was probably true. Only later did I realize that Jesus never forced Himself on anyone. Jesus never pressured anyone into making a decision to believe. He never walked up to anyone and said, “Believe in me or you’re going to hell.” This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t witness to lost people because we’re commanded to, but we can’t beat them up with the Bible. We can quote Scriptures or ask them (as I did one nurse in the hospital), “If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure what would happen to you?” Each witnessing encounter will likely be different, but never did Jesus use strong-arm tactics. That can turn people off immediately.
If unbelievers like our Christ but we don’t look very much like Him, then we’re making people turn away from God and from Christ in particular. We had better not be a stumbling block for unbelievers in our claim to know Christ. If our lives betray us, then others will see through the hypocrisy and say, “If that’s what God’s like, I want none of it.”
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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