Have you ever felt tired and weary by the actions of fellow Christians?
Over this past year, I’ve been so deeply discouraged and truly saddened by the way I’ve seen followers of Jesus speak and act in relation to the world around them–in relation to fellow image bearers. My soul is heavy and tired.
Recently, I’ve shifted from a deep sense of sorrow for the way it seems Christians have moved away from the message of Jesus to anger for the way biblical truths have been misrepresented.
But this has all challenged me to internally reflect on my own faith. As much as my heart is filled with what I would like to think is righteous anger, I can’t overlook my own responsibility in the way I carry myself as an ambassador for Jesus.
I want my life to reflect his glory in every aspect of my life. I want the heart of Jesus to be my heart towards the many pressing issues that are unfolding around me. But honestly, I’ve begun to grow weary by the actions of American Christians at large. I fear our witness is being compromised for the sake of what we “feel” our lives should look like as Americans who are free. It seems as if we’re mixing our identity in Jesus with our identity as citizens of a nation.
But I don’t want to be discouraged and I don’t want to lose sight of the beauty of the body of Christ. Surely, Jesus knew we wouldn’t get it right every time.
From the crusades to slavery, people have used Jesus to support their own agendas. I must take a moment to point out how absolutely unacceptable and far off from the heart of Jesus these events were. And the list goes on much further than these. The more I ponder on past events and even current events that are unfolding before our very eyes, I’m left asking God why do his people continue to act so egregiously in his name?
Now I can not and will not condone any of the unbiblical actions historically or currently made by Christians in the name of Jesus. But I also know it is damaging for a Christian to stay in the place of discouragement and sorrow towards fellow believers.
Here are three important truths to keep in mind as you wrestle with the actions of your fellow believers.
1. You don’t get to make the call on someone’s salvation.
In our attempts to make sense of the disconnect between a Christian’s actions and their faith, we must refrain from making the judgement that they are not saved. Scripture is clear that there are people who claim to be Christians and truly are not. But that isn’t for you to decide.
It’s the Lord’s job to separate the chaff from the wheat. It’s not our right to make predictions or claims along the way. Make no mistake. Jesus does not take lightly those who proclaim a false witness. The Kingdom of God will be purified. Judgement will come.
The imagery of the wheat and the chaff in Matthew shows how difficult it is for us to distinguish the difference. It’s not until the wheat and the chaff are full grown that a farmer can decipher what to harvest and what to burn.
There will be false Christians in our churches and in our society. And it’s very likely we won’t even be able to recognize them. But as much as we would like to be able to call them out and let the world know who they are, we can’t. Because we simply do not know.
It also serves as a greater tool for division among the Church if we assume the role of drawing the line between who’s actually a believer and who isn’t. Journeying down this road will lead to the opposite of redemption and resolution. Even if you have the purest of hearts and righteous anger for the faith determining a person’s salvation is not a call you get to make. Leave these matters in the hands of the Lord.
This isn’t a passive or ambivalent way to respond to the current situations we face. It takes great faith and trust in our Savior to know he is just and that he will deal with those who falsely testify to his name.In our attempts to make sense of the disconnect between a Christian's actions and their faith, we must refrain from making the judgement that they are not saved. Click To Tweet
2. Sanctification is an ongoing process.
The process of salvation is far richer than a hand stamp into heaven or your ticket out of hell.
A deeper understanding of salvation involves your instant justification, your ongoing sanctification, and your soon-to-be glorification. We would all love for our sanctification to be as immediate as our justification. But that’s not how it works.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we’re continuing to be transformed into the image of Jesus. This doesn’t happen overnight. This is an ongoing process being worked out in our hearts and lives and it is a process that others should be able to witness over the course of time.
People should notice our old ways are being cast aside and our new ways, the ways of Jesus, are taking shape in our lives. This is a process for each and every believer, regardless of how long they have been saved.
But here’s the difficult thing. The sanctification process doesn’t happen at the same rate for every believer. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we meet someone who has been saved for 40 years and yet seem spiritually immature.
We’re all still growing and maturing in our faith. So when you see a Christian acting out of step with the character of Jesus, remember that they’re in-process the same way you are.
A person’s spiritual immaturity doesn’t provide an excuse for their actions. But it does give you a sliver of understanding into their behavior. Unfortunately, we’re witnessing a massive display of spiritually immature believers acting out of their fallenness rather than their faith in Jesus.When you see a Christian acting out of step with the character of Jesus, remember that they're in-process the same way you are. Click To Tweet
3. You mustn’t mistake kindness for condoning.
Jesus offers the same measure of grace to the victim as he does the perpetrator. This often doesn’t sit well with us because we want the perpetrator to be punished and we want the victim to be saved. But Jesus wants redemption and salvation for both.
This is the beauty of the gospel. It truly is good news that’s not limited by your actions.
The bible calls us to not withhold grace and forgiveness from others, because Jesus didn’t withhold it from us. Our heart for others should be the same as Jesus’ heart towards them. We should desire restoration and redemption even for those misrepresenting Jesus. Our hearts should not grow cold and callous towards our fellow Christians whose actions are detestable. We must continue to respond with the heart of Jesus rather than our fallen nature.
This doesn’t mean we excuse or condone the actions of those acting out of step with the gospel. We must stand for truth and justice. But we can’t throw love out the window. This is a fine line to walk and one we must be intentional about. Even in our righteous anger and firm stand on biblical truth, we can’t become imbalanced in our own desire to shine the light of Jesus.
So, yes, have conversations with other Christians on their actions and don’t feel the need to soften the truth, but go into those conversations with the desire to equally display love.We must stand for truth and justice. But we can't throw love out the window. Click To Tweet
Be angry, but do not sin.
There’s nothing wrong with being outraged by the current display of Christians, but we must caution our hearts from creating division among the Church. As believers, our intentions should be to display the glory of Christ and not to go on a rampage of how corrupt and distorted the Christian faith in America has become.