Christians have some annoying habits. Here are six things I wish they would stop doing:
Instead of having a reputation as being peacemakers, promoting reconciliation, and working towards unity, Christians are known for being loud, argumentative, petty, and contentious. Unfortunately, any semblance of Christ’s gospel message of hope, love, and grace is lost within the endless noise, debates, accusations, division, and hatred.
Christians need to stop obsessing over being right and having all of the answers and start focusing on following Christ’s example: sacrificially serving, helping, comforting, and loving everyone around us.
For Christians, it’s often easier to yell and scream instead of doing the very hard—and humble—work of loving others. Arguing is addictive because it feeds off of our need for self-glorification, self-righteousness, pride, power, and recognition.
Acting like Jesus, a person who ultimately died on a cross and devoted His life to selflessly helping others doesn’t seem that appealing ― it isn’t. But we need to try—and the first step is to stop being combative and start focusing on being a peacemaker.
2. Idolizing Famous Christians:
One of the most popular—yet subtle—idols Christians worship are, well, themselves. As believers, we respect, honor, and admire those who lead us towards a better understand of Jesus—but we can quickly turn these individuals into false idols.
Our pastors, favorite theologians, Christian reality TV stars, Christian athletes, and Christian celebrities can become a personification of our faith—a modern day Golden Calf that represents our belief in God.
We put lots of hope, confidence, and much of our identity into these idols, and when they inevitably fail, we assume that God failed. But they aren’t Jesus.
Too often, people abandon Christ not because of anything He did, but because of the people who represented Him. Ultimately, are we putting our hope in Jesus or in the people that are trying to symbolize Him?
3. Craving Power:
The irony of Jesus’s story is that He defeated evil by being sacrificial and loving—not through manipulation, political influence, or physical power. Yet Christians continually ignore this lesson and strive for corporate, social, legal, political, economic, and religious control. We want to rule the world!
In many ways, we’ve devolved and become like the Israelites who wanted an earthly king and physical victory instead of a spiritual one. We want our laws to be passed, our customs to be the most socially acceptable, our beliefs to be enforced, our leaders to be popular, and our lifestyles to be preferred over those of everyone else.
Christianity isn’t meant to be a religion of dominating control, authoritarian influence, or a popularity contest. It’s meant to focus around a relationship with Christ, but instead we’ve turned the gospel it into a mechanism for gaining power—God help us.
4. Being Judgmental:
Which leads us to our next problem: being judgmental.
Almost on a daily basis there’s another news story about a Christian who derisively attacked someone because of their “immoral lifestyle.” Instead of being agents of grace, hope, and inspiration, Christians often bring condemnation, guilt, and shame.
Jesus routinely warns against judging others, and throughout His ministry He created meaningful friendships with society’s “sinners” and “outcasts.” Unfortunately, many modern-day Christians do the exact opposite, preferring exclusion over inclusion, judgment over grace, shame over praise, legalism over freedom, and fear over joy.
Jesus wants people to be full of hope, joy, and freedom—why is it so hard for Christians to desire those things for others?
5. Being Pessimistic:
Christians can basically be divided into two main categories: optimists and pessimists.
Believers are hopeful or hopeless, happy or sad. Jesus is either restoring a broken world and fighting to bring restoration—ultimately bringing salvation—or, Satan is controlling everyone (especially the youth) and they’re all (you, not us!) headed to hell.
Today’s Christians have a bad habit of seeing the worst in everybody and everything: A natural disaster is surely a sign of the end times. An MTV show reflects our hideous moral decline. A particular nation (obviously not one of our political allies) is being used as the Anti-Christ’s puppet to eventually invade and destroy the United States.
The apocalyptic and hopeless assessments about our world—and Christianity—propagated by Christians themselves are pathetic and worrisome. Do we have nothing to be thankful for?
We treat our faith as if it’s in a rapid decline, as if the “glory years” are over. Really? The past was Christianity’s brightest moment? When racism, segregation, sexism, war, and fear plagued our country—this was the high point of Christianity?
Christianity is about bringing an uplifting and energizing hope—but we’ve turned it into a fear-based horror story.
6. Playing the Victim Card:
A loss of worldly power, pessimism, combined with fear and a sense of judgment, is the perfect recipe for creating a mentality of victimization.
To be fair, Christian persecution is real, and it is happening throughout the world, but Christians see persecution even when it’s not there.
Christians have become used to creating, upholding, and enforcing the status quo, but when we’re no longer the majority, and lose “control,” we immediately become defensive and assume everyone is out to get us.
The irony is that for years, Christians often ruthlessly enforced their expectations upon others, and people had (and still have) a legitimate reason to fear those who called themselves “Christians.”
But when the Ten Commandments are removed from City Hall, or you can’t publicly pray at work, gay marriage is approved, or a “liberal” politician is elected into office—this isn’t Christian persecution.
Christians need to accept that they’re no longer considered the respected moral majority—and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For years, we’ve associated the health of Christianity by numbers: the popularity of our denominations, church attendance, the amount of “believing” elected officials voted into office, and the quantitative influence of our institutions. We evaluated our faith using data and figures—not spiritual issues that Jesus was passionate about.
Helping the poor, giving to others, being sacrificial, and loving everyone—this is what matters to God. If Christianity isn’t doing those things, then it doesn’t matter how popular it is—it’s worthless.
Let’s start emulating Christ and stop trying to turn Christianity into a religion that it was never meant to be.
This piece originally appeared on redletterchristians.org and is used with permission here.