I try not to preach from my soapbox too often.   However, sometimes there are things that burn me up, and I can’t help it.  Today, I would like to talk about Christians.

What I am about to say is a view that I have heard expressed by several of my Christian and non-Christian friends alike.  Many of them have asserted that in their experience there are times when being in relationship with Christians is more difficult that being in relationship with people of the world.  Their concerns are disheartening.  As a Christian, I would hope that people would recognize a palpable difference in my demeanor and that I would serve as an example of Christ’s light and love.

The more I started to think about the topic, the more I started to wonder: “Has society placed unrealistic expectations on Christians?”  After all, we are humans just like everyone else.  If it weren’t for Christ, most of us would be broken and falling apart.  Actually, let me rephrase.  Many of us are broken and falling apart, myself included.  Considering that humans are all imperfect beings, is it fair that we Christians be held to a different standard of morality because of our relationship with Christ?  The answer is simple: yes!  The Bible says that although we are living in the world, we should not conform to it (Romans 12:2).  This does not mean that we are called to perfection.  It simply means that we are called to a higher behavioral standard.  Those who know better do better, Maya Angelou.

So why are so many people put off by Christians?  The truth is, some of us are mean.  Our hearts are hardened and bitter.  Frankly, there are some of us that do not treat others very well.  Some of us Christians live as though we are ignorant of the fact that God has given us the promise of eternity—blissful eternity for those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

So why are we so standoffish?  Truthfully, I couldn’t begin to know how to answer that question.  Actually, I don’t even care to.  What I do know is, we should individually and collectively evaluate whether our behavior is truly representative of God.  Would our actions draw others closer to Christ?  Are we attractive or repulsive?  I know that not everyone will be liked by everyone, but as a rule of thumb, are people generally attracted to us?  The answer to this question will require deep introspection.  Some might be able to assess themselves honestly while others might be oblivious.  I know this chore may even be burdensome for some, but as Christians, Christ instructed us to take up our cross and follow Him.  We have a responsibility to make sure that our actions are not deterring people from God’s Word.  We are called to build up and not destroy.

We can still live the life of a Christian and still be flawed.  In fact, the people who are watching us want to see our imperfections.  This allows them to know that God can love THEM in their imperfection as well.

One Final Note:  It’s slightly off topic, but I figured while I’m on a roll, I would throw it in the pot to stew.  Charity begins at home.  Which brings me to the topic of missionary work.  The Bible has called us to take care of the fatherless, the widow and the orphans, in other words, the disenfranchised.    So, we should burn with desire to help those who cannot help themselves, especially those living in impoverished countries and communities.  However, before we venture overseas, we should make sure that our homes are taken care of.  If our neighbor asks us for a piece of bread, we should not deny him and claim that we are saving it for someone in a distant land.  We should serve our family and honor our friends first.  How could we love a stranger that we do not know if we cannot love those whom we can see?

In 1 John 4:20, John states, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”  One of the underlying assertions that John is making in this passage is that it is easier to love in proximity.  It’s only once we have mastered that love that we can venture outside of our physical reach.