2. People who we think poorly represent the Christian faith.
There is a tendency among evangelicals to distance ourselves from Christians we think poorly represent the Christian faith.
I do this. I could give you a list of people whose public displays of Christianity make me want to stand and shout, “But most Christians aren’t like that. We’re different. Don’t look at them.”
You have a list like this, don’t you? Isn’t this pride? Do we ever consider that perhaps it’s me—yes me—who might be the poor display of Christian witness?
I’m humbled by Jesus’ words to Peter in Luke 22:32, where he essentially said, “I’m praying for you, that your faith doesn’t fail. Satan wants to sift you as wheat” (my paraphrase). Peter was the Christ-follower who embarrassed everyone by his public displays. He’s the guy who panicked and fell beneath the waves on the Sea of Galilee. He’s the guy who blurted out about the tabernacles during the miracle of transfiguration. He’s the guy who cut off the soldier’s ear in the garden. He’s the guy who denied Jesus three times. Yeah, I’m guessing pre-Pentecost Peter is probably the guy who exemplifies “Christian I don’t want to be like.”
And yet, Jesus said to Peter, patiently, “I’m praying for you.”
I’m deeply convicted by this. Rather than mocking those Christians who I don’t think “do it right” so I can make myself look better, I ought to … pray for them.
Here’s what happens when we do this: Suddenly we see the humanity in people we’re ashamed of. Suddenly we see our own clumsy attempts to represent Christ. Suddenly we accept them as brothers and sisters rather than enemies. This is a hard discipline, but like Jesus, we should pray for the Peters in our life.