These are fascinating times in which we live. Since my childhood, I’ve seen Judeo-Christian ethics slowly but surely move from basically accepted standards and the cultural norm to rejected, stomped on, and moved to what, subjectively, seems like a shunned fringe of society. This sentiment is reinforced heavily on Twitter and other social media sites.
To devout Christians (among which I admittedly count myself), this is no surprise. The only startling thing is how quickly the tables have turned in the last few years. My reflections on this topic involve a combination of sentiments expressed by others in conversation, in various online forums, and Scripture.
Here are five reasons I’ve concluded why Christians and Christianity get so much hate hurled at them.
1. “Christians are hypocrites”
This one is a bit yesteryear. Dismissing Christianity because “Christians are hypocrites” was common before it became a national pastime to dismiss the Bible and Christianity. To address it briefly, however, yes, Christians are hypocrites. Because they are humans. All humans are innately capable of claiming to believe a set of principles and then turning to act in a way that defies those principles.
This behavior is not limited to Christians, but it is highly devasting when they make themselves out to be hypocrites. Cringeworthy is not a strong enough word to describe it.
We have the perfect, sinless Savior as our example. When one calls themselves a Christian then engages in behavior contrary to Christ’s commands, it is painful to behold. And the watching world pounces mercilessly on it.
When a pastor has an extramarital affair. When someone who identifies as a Christian on social media personally attacks someone with whom they disagree. When “church” groups picket events and institutions they find immoral. When believers cheat, lie, disrespect others, or engage in any sinful behavior, people notice and claim that as a reason not to believe Christianity.
Word of caution to sincere Christians: Don’t be a hypocrite. Know what the Bible says, and live by it, thus showing your lives to be beyond reproach. There are enough fake Christians out there; let’s not make the problems worse.
Word of caution to non-Christians: Yes, there are those who call themselves Christians, but are actually not. Fakes have existed since Christ incarnate was resurrected and ascended back into heaven. It is nothing new. One of Satan’s brilliant tactics is to turn people off from Christ by placing impostors in the church who dishonor the faith.
2. A Christian has hurt them
This one is a painful reality. Even though Christians are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), they are still capable of sin.
I’ve heard stories from people who abandoned any interest in the God of the Bible because the ugly behavior of one of God’s children was so hurtful to them, the resulting bad taste in their mouth caused them to reject Christianity altogether. It breaks my heart when I hear this.
This calls for another admonition to Christians from Philippians 2:12, to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
As one who grew up in a Christian church, I often heard that people are watching to see if we are faithful to Christ. While sometimes it is hard to tell if that is the case, it becomes crystal clear when a prominent Christian falls into sin. People come out of the woodwork to celebrate the fall, right along with Satan and his demons who rejoice at how many can be led astray by such an occurrence.
3. They’ve been hurt by the church
The Christian church is full of humans that are still capable of sinning. It is therefore capable of acting unwisely towards the outside world, and to its own members, in the process turning people off who were looking for an excuse to dismiss Christianity.
I shudder to even cite this as an example, but the most extreme case I can think of is the Westboro Baptist “Church,” whose members are infamous for picketing, hate, reprehensible behavior and zero evidence of Christlikeness. Yet, they unironically do what they do in the name of God.
They are in no way representative of the message of Christ. Not even for a second. Yet, to someone who has never read the Bible or interacted with a true follower of Christ, they might actually believe that is how Christians think and behave. Satan is probably winded from all the victory laps he has run while seeing what they have done to Christ’s flawless name.
There are more moderate examples, to be sure. The point is, when God’s Word is mishandled or ignored by the church, it is capable of doing immense damage to the watching world.
4. They always have been hated (Jesus predicted it)
It didn’t take long after Jesus ascended back into heaven (after being killed by His own people and being raised again three days later) before His followers began being persecuted, scattered and murdered. Just like Jesus predicted:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
– John 15:18-19
Other than the last few hundred years in Western civilization and the unprecedented first 200 years of the American experiment, Christians have had a rough go of it off and on since the beginning.
5. The most important reason
Though all the above are true, there is one reason that stands far above others, why people shun Christianity: because they prefer to sin rather than to get right with God.
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” – John 3:19
God, in His generosity, gave each of us a conscience, and undeniable evidence of His great works in the world (Romans 1:18-22). Our sin nature rebels against God, and we fight mightily against that which is obvious – the need for God.
Dearest reader, my hope, and prayer is that you will respond rightly to God and His wonderfully gracious offer of salvation through Christ alone (John 3:16, John 14:6) if you have not yet done so.
What is your response to Christ?