10 ways Christians tend to fail at being Christian

Jenny - posted on 09/26/2010 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I especially like #1.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shore...


Speaking as someone who, well, had the conversion experience 14 years ago that I recounted in "I, a Rabid Anti-Christian, Very Suddenly Convert," we Christians too often fail in these ten ways:

1) Too much money. "Wealthy Christian" should be an oxymoron. In Luke 12:33, Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 19:21, he says, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor." In Matthew 6:24, he says, "You cannot serve God and Money." Christians are generally pretty huge on cleaving to the word of God. I just don't see how those particular words could be clearer. (For more on this, see my post "Christians: No Fair Heeding Paul on Gays, But Not Jesus on Wealth.")

2) Too confident that God thinks we're all that and a leather-bound gift Bible. I'd like to humbly suggest that we spend a little more time wondering how we displease God, and a little less time being confident that there's no reason for us to ever wonder about that at all. (See my post "Certainty in Christ: A Blessing and a Curse.")

3) Too quick to believe that we know what God really means by what he says in the Bible. The Bible is an extremely complex, multi-leveled work. We're sometimes too quick to assume that we grasp its every meaning. Take this passage, for instance, from Luke 8: 9-10: "His disciples asked him [Jesus] what this parable [of the sower] meant. He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand."'" Huh? And that's Jesus "explaining" what is generally regarded as one of his most readily understood parables! Are we really all that confident that we always know exactly what Jesus meant by everything he said? Wouldn't we do well to sometimes admit that the words attributed to God manifested on earth are just a tad, well, Greek to us? (See my post "The Bible's Two Big Problems.")

4) Too action-oriented. We Christians could stand to spend less time acting in the name of God, and more time reflecting on the (ever subtle) majesty of God. We need more passivity, and less activity. More meditation, less machination. More reflection, less correction. More contemplation, less administration. More prayers, less airs. More mysticism, less ... um ... cretinism. (See my post "Doing Christianity vs. Being Christian.")

5) Too invasive of others generally. It is my personal, humble opinion that anyone seeking to mix church and state has failed to understand the nature and role of either. Being founded upon the principle that all men are created equal and deserving of equal protection under the law is what makes the American system of democracy such a gift to mankind. Attempting to mix the inherently exclusionary imperatives of a particular religion into the resolutely inclusive system of the American constitutional form of government is to work against everything that America stands for. Religion is a personal, subjective affair for the individual; politics and public policy is an impersonal, objective affair for everyone. (See my post "Does the Holy Spirit Vote Republican?")

6) Too invasive of others personally. We Christians are too often too eager to get up into the faces of others about their personal religious beliefs. If you believe in the reality of hell, then wanting to save non-Christians from going there is a worthy sentiment, of course. But the bottom line is it's absolutely impossible to talk someone who isn't a Christian into becoming one; in fact, more than anything else it's likely to push the non-Christian further from God. I believe we Christians would do very well indeed to spend our time "just" living as Christians, and let God worry about the non-Christians. (See my post "What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear.")

7) Too quick to abandon logic. When talking to others about our faith, we Christians too often resort to a language and line of reasoning that leaves good ol' fashion logic sitting on the ground behind us, waving a sad good-bye. "It's true because the Bible says it's true" is, for instance, an assertion that can't help but leave the non-Christian unimpressed, since it's so manifestly illogical. "It's true because the Bible says it's true" is no more proof of truth than is, "Apples are the best of the fruits, because I think that's true." Christians need to more readily admit that the religious experience -- no matter how riveting and real it is to the person experiencing it -- remains a subjective phenomenon, and talk about it that way. (See my "Let's Be Real: No One 'Walks' and 'Talks' with Jesus.")

8) Too fixated on homosexuality. Can we Christians stop already with the gay and lesbian fixation? I know many of us understand our stance on the matter to be unassailably Biblical. I know a great many of us are deeply concerned about the "homosexual agenda." I know. We all know. Maybe Christians could just give that issue a rest for a while. It's not like gay and lesbian people are going anywhere. They'll all be there when we get back. Maybe -- for just a week, a day, a month -- we could concern ourselves with something else, and let them be. (See my post "Christians: When It Comes to Homosexuality, Man Up.")

9) Too insular. When I became a Christian, one of the things that most amazed me about Christians is the degree to which they tend to hang out only with other Christians. We should stop doing that. How are we supposed to share Christ's love with non-Christians (which we're forever saying we want to do) when we barely know any non-Christians? Time to widen that social base, I say. (Plus, Christian or not, we still want to throw good, fun parties, don't we? Well, let's face it: The heathen class has all the good music. We might as well invite a few of them to our next party. Maybe they'll bring their CD's!) (See my post, "My Answer to Christians Denouncing R. Crumb's "Genesis Illustrated.")

10) Too uneducated about Christianity. Generally speaking (which of course is the most offensive way to speak about any group of people), Christians tend to embarrass themselves by knowing so little about either the Bible or the history of Christianity. Believing that the Bible is the word of God, for instance, is one thing; knowing nothing about the long process by which men decided which texts would and wouldn't make it into the Bible is another. It's not that all Christians should be full-on theologians or historians. But if you're a Christian who doesn't know the Great Schism from The Great Santini, or the Diet of Worms from ... well, the diet of worms, then you've got some homework to do.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Jessica - posted on 09/26/2010

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See, I just think that if the world abandoned "faith" and took up reasoning, critical thinking and logic instead, we would be much better off altogether.

Becky - posted on 09/26/2010

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I wanted to clarify that I am not a wealthy Christian by ANY stretch of the imagination, lol! So I'm not trying to keep my money. :) I see what you're saying though. Of course, by that reasoning, it is wrong for anyone to be wealthy (which I think is what you're saying.) But, since Christians have been commanded to care for the widows and orphans and to share what we have with the poor, I guess we do have a higher responsibility on us to "share the wealth."
My biggest problem with many Christians is that they seem to overlook "judge not, lest you be judged" and "love your neighbor as yourself."

C. - posted on 09/26/2010

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What I don't get is why non-Christians expect Christians to be PERFECT?? NOBODY is perfect. I agree with the post, but at the same time you can't expect Christians to be perfect. Simply being a Christian does not exempt you from making mistakes in your life.

JuLeah - posted on 09/26/2010

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To start: I am not a Christian. I am Jewish.
Most Christians I call friend give Christians’ a good name. Most Christians however, do not.
I believe folks like you ought to be hired as the 'official spokespersons' and the offensive folks ought to zip their lips.
I have read all three of the major bibles guiding our current time. All three say basically the same thing; be nice.
If there were one thing I could, as an outsider, advice Christians to never say it would be... any sentence that starts like this, "I am a good Christian, but ..."

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Petra - posted on 09/27/2010

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But I do love the way he pokes fun at speaking in generalities... the guy can write :-)

Dana - posted on 09/27/2010

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Love the post and I agree! Though I do think it's unfair to assume or imply that all Christians are this way.

Jessica - posted on 09/27/2010

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I don't consider myself a Christian but used to be involved in church and youth groups- I have to say the guy who wrote this is pretty spot on! He makes very good points that many, many Christians should probably be reminded of. And about the wealth thing, I do think there's a difference between being wealthy and being greedy with it. My ex step-mother was a religious fanatic (not really in the good way) and went to a church that was CRAZY with money- to look at the outside of this place you'd think they were an uber-expensive salon, or a mall or something- the building was *huge* and pristine. And at the time they were trying to get donations to add additions on for more stuff- including a coffee shop. I just always thought, is any of that NECESSARY??

Charlie - posted on 09/26/2010

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No , non Christians do not expect Christians to be perfect but you better believe if you ( general) want to act all sanctimonious that your as close to perfect as possible otherwise dont say anything at all .

In fact what we do say is people in general are not perfect including Christians .

?? - posted on 09/26/2010

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I don't think anyone thinks Christians are, or have to be, perfect. I think this says the exact opposite of what you're thinking Christina. It says 'Don't worry, we KNOW you're not perfect, stop pretending you have to be. Stop acting like you are. We know you aren't and it is okay' to those Christians that you do see out there that do all of these things listed.

Kate CP - posted on 09/26/2010

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No, but being an ass about being a "perfect Christian" pisses a lot of people off. A lot of Christians have a "holier than thou" attitude and act as though they are enlightened. But then when they make a mistake they are all to quick to point out that nobody is perfect and God is forgiving.

Yes, God is forgiving...of everything. So why not skip the judgmental crap and just live and let live?

[deleted account]

My favorite is #10. I have a friend like this, who refuses to believe that human beings (MEN) decided which books were to be included in the bible. He doesn't believe that ANY other books were ever considered, except for the ones already in there now. (Head desk, head desk).

Heather - posted on 09/26/2010

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I personally wish "Good Christians" would stop telling people how to be "Good Christians" and just live by example. I don't think it's any christian's place to tell someone else how to live or point out what areas they're "failing" in. It's kinda hypocritical when you consider no one's perfect. Just my opinion.

Kate CP - posted on 09/26/2010

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If there were one thing I could, as an outsider, advice Christians to never say it would be... any sentence that starts like this, "I am a good Christian, but ..."

See, I hear it this way: "I'm a good Christian BUTT..." Makes people sound like such jerks when they start a conversation that way. A sure-fire way to piss off a Christian in my area is to ask them to forgive you. They get confused then you explain that Christ taught forgiveness not retaliation and then they get all huffy. It's actually rather entertaining to watch.

Johnny - posted on 09/26/2010

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Some of the people who have most inspired me in life have been Christians who followed these guidelines. Some of the people that have most disgusted me are Christians who do not. But as a non-believer, I find it odd that he thinks that Christians simply need to improve their behavior to convince non-believers that they should believe (at least that is sort of what he sounds like he is saying). As an agnostic, there is literally nothing any human can do to convince me to have faith in a god. I used to work with a woman who washed the feet of the homeless, whose picture should be next to compassion, understanding, and tolerance in the dictionary. Probably the most amazing person I've ever met. And yet knowing that she lived her faith did not lead me to develop my own faith. It simply made me want to live a better, more caring, more charitable life. Faith comes from within, you can't catch it like a cold.

Jenny - posted on 09/26/2010

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Always looking for loopholes to keep the cash lol.

Not exactly, in order for you to "have" there MUST be others that "have not". The system itself is immoral.

Becky - posted on 09/26/2010

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I agree with all of them except the first one. I don't believe there's any sin in being wealthy and I believe wealth is a blessing that comes from God. You can have money without being a slave to it. I believe the sin is not in having money, but in being greedy with our money. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had because he knew he loved his possessions too much to do that, not because he had possessions. So loving our wealth and refusing to share with others is where we go wrong, not in just being wealthy.

[deleted account]

Great post Jenny! I'll need to formulate further thoughts, but I just wanted to say right off that I 100% agree, and I have some more ideas as well...

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