1 John 4:20
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.
A statement that irks me like few others is, “I like Jesus. It is Christians I can’t stand.” That statement seems all cool, clever, above the fray, non-judgmental (unlike judgmental Christians) but actually it is a declaration of pitiful ignorance. Why?
If it is a believer saying it, 1 John 4:20 makes it clear it is impossible to say God is OK in my book but I don’t like His people. The Holy Spirit clearly says if you don’t love God’s kids, your brothers and sisters, you don’t truly love God (cannot love God), either.
When unbelievers say they like Jesus but can’t stand Christians they explain it is because Christians are narrrow-minded, judgmental, unloving, intolerant, holier than thou, etc, etc, etc ad nauseam. Jesus, on the other hand, was none of these things. He always walked around with a strange glow encircling His head, flashing the two finger peace sign and kissing babies.
Unlike the ultimate good ole boy that Jesus is, Christians say narrow-minded things like, “you can’t get to heaven unless you follow Jesus.” Where do they come up with these nutty ideas? They say unloving things like “there is a future of eternal torment that awaits those who reject Jesus.” They even say good people like Gandhi or Elvis didn’t go to heaven unless they trusted in Jesus instead of their good works. Get real! Elvis not in heaven?
Why do Christians get such a bum rap when everybody loves Jesus? Because those who say they like “Jesus” but think the church is too judgmental, narrow-minded, unloving, etc, are in love with a “Jesus” that they created in their image. You see, it is (narrow-minded) Jesus who said no one can come to God except through Him. (John 14:6) It is (intolerant) Jesus who warned an eternity of torment awaits those who reject Him. (Matthew 25:46) Judgmental Christians who say Gandhi or Elvis (or you and I) can’t get to heaven based upon our own efforts are simply stating what God’s Word says. (Ephesians 2:8, 9) It is even (holier than thou) Jesus who, when he forgave the woman caught in adultery, told her to go and change her lifestyle – “sin no more”. (John 8:11)
Granted, there are people who claim to be Christians but do not live like Jesus. They give Christianity a bad “image”. But, those followers who truly echo the words and the attitudes of Christ are not very popular either. And it is certainly true that some Christians can be a bit harder to love than others (my guess is they were also “love challengers” before they began to follow Jesus). But it exposes blatant ignorance to say we love God but not His kids – ignorance of Scripture but, even more critically, it usually also betrays ignorance of who God truly is – His nature and character as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
It is a package deal. You want Jesus? He comes with His still flawed, still imperfect, still in process family – the family of God. Gotta love ’em.
To live above with the Saints we love,
Ah, that is the purest glory.
To live below with the Saints we know,
Ah, that is another story!