Christians aren’t perfect, and I would never claim that I was the exception to that rule, so as you read through this, know that I do not wish to condemn anyone with what I am saying; rather, I hope to serve as a guide for others in hopes of self-examination resulting in another step in the sanctification process of our lives.
There are plenty of things that I believe Christians should stop doing right now, but these three find a particular place in my mind as something I see all too often in my personal circles. Christians have a moral duty to live according to the standards given in the Bible (Deut 4:2, 12:32; Ecc 12:13), but sometimes we fall victim to our own fancies; still, yet, there is hope in our shortcomings. I hope through this writing you understand the importance of good Christian behavior and how it enhances our witness to the lost and dying of the world.
Stop Expecting Non-Christians to Act Like Christians
This one hit me hard years ago. Growing up in a very conservative, quiet town in the southern United States, it was just understood that everyone went to church and believed in God, so much that I was 10 or 11 before I even realized that there were other religions or that some people had no religion at all. The realization came accompanied with feelings of animosity or hatred for those who would dare not believe in God or stand up for values not laid out in the Bible.
I ruined my witness numerous times in my teenage years with close friends because I brought that animosity and hatred to my conversations. I remember one time in particular during the earliest days of Facebook where my best friend at the time had written in his Facebook “About Me” section “When people ask me why I don’t believe in God, I tell them because I believe in reincarnation.” Laying aside the inconsistencies with that reasoning for another time, I’ll tell you how I reacted. Now my friend was not a Christian, as he said, but I somehow thought that by telling him he should be a Christian that he would suddenly be like, “Oh! That’s right! Now I’m a Christian.” On the contrary, my “stop with this atheist stuff because you know it’s not true” one-liners did nothing but push him even further away from the idea of God. My brash self could not understand why a non-Christian was behaving like a non-Christian and that caused me to influence him to have more reason to continue being a non-Christian – the very thing I wished to prevent! Had I realized that non-Christians are not going to look, behave, or respond like Christians, perhaps I could have spoken to him in a way that could have positively influenced his life towards God. It has been 10 years and I still kick myself for this regularly.
Remember church, there was a reason Jesus had to show up a while back and it was not because we were all behaving like believers.
Stop Cherry-Picking the Bible
God has given and preserved his word to those living on Earth, spanning generations and crossing every geographical border. What he has said is eternal and has not changed, so why do we feel the need to focus on just some parts of the text rather than it in its entirety? Now this can open a can of worms that could take us around and around for hours, but there is a main point I would like to make here.
If you sometimes feel as though there are parts of the Bible that make you feel uncomfortable, that is normal and expected. If you were to read the Bible and find not a single time where you sat the book down and said, “Woah! I can’t believe THAT is in my Bible?!” you are probably not a true believer. Why? Because God is clear in his word that his thoughts are above ours, that he is going to rub you wrong sometimes because it is within our nature to oppose God. Afterall, we are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3). To read the very words of the creator of the universe and not have any problems with even a single part of it is to affirm that you do not serve a God apart from yourself; rather, you are serving a god you have built in your own mind. You are serving something that you have created, something that believes and affirms everything that you yourself believe and affirm. That god is essentially just a cardboard cutout of yourself and that is not how the Bible explains our relationship with our creator.
Read your Bible and do not be afraid of the times you are going to feel uncomfortable with certain passages; it is completely normal and expected. Instead, seek trained leaders to help you work through some of your hesitations within the text; your relationship with God will only grow as you learn more about how he is.
Stop Being a Jerk
This one is especially important today in America (October 2020). I can’t tell you how many times I have deleted my Facebook application on my cell phone because of the amount of arguing, belittling, and nastiness that I read from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, especially during this election season. You are allowed to have an opinion on matters, but you must also recognize that not everyone in the world – even other Christians – will have those same opinions. Yes, there are issues such as abortion where Christians are to be united, but that does not give you a license to be mean to those who have differing positions or opinions.
Paul explains that no matter what we do, if we do not have love for others in our hearts, our efforts are in vain (1 Cor 13), and this most certainly includes discussing anything with other people, both Christians and non-Christians, in person or through some sort of network. The Bible does not give us a license to be a jerk to anyone; rather, we are to do unto others as we would have done to us (Matt 7:12). Being a jerk will only result in people putting up a wall and shutting themselves off to everything you are saying, so if anything, you are diminishing your chances of reaching someone even further. Perhaps Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said to love our neighbors.
As I said in the opening of this article, there are plenty of things we should stop doing as believers, and I may spend time soon addressing more of those ill practices, but I do stand firm on the need to stop doing these three today. I am guilty of these three things myself, which is one of my motivations for writing what I have here, but I do believe an inward examination of our motives and behaviors can do nothing but move us one step further through our sanctification process as we await our king. I hope you will join me in striving to be better every day for my God.