It’s no secret Christians don’t exactly have the best reputation outside (or even inside) the church. Jesus says we should be known by our love, but today it seems we’re known for traits and behaviors that are much less flattering.
I’ve heard Christians referred to as judgmental, hypocritical, pushy and just plain mean. Unfortunately, the people who call us those things are often correct.
But that needs to change. The world needs the Gospel more than ever and we’re supposed to be the messengers of that Gospel. Turn on the news and you will come face to face with the prevailing darkness in our world. The world needs bringers of light, love and joy—people to bring life into places that know nothing but death.
People don’t listen to people they don’t like—and our reputations are getting in the way of our ability to share Christ with the people who need him most.
No, being a Christian won’t always be popular. The decisions we make and the ways we live our lives are countercultural in almost every way. But unpopular and unlikeable are not the same thing.
Here are a few things Christians do that make us unlikeable, and how we can curb those bad habits.
1. We insist on being right.
We are people of conviction, people who believe something strongly and fight for that belief no matter what. But all too often, those convictions make us bad listeners.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was convinced they were right before you even opened your mouth?
That conversation starts to look a lot more like a monologue.
I’m not suggesting we weaken our convictions but rather we practice the art of listening and work on understanding. Hearing new ideas doesn’t weaken our own, and listening to someone who lives their life differently won’t compromise our integrity.
Instead, it will help us connect to someone new and give that person a new frame of reference for the kind of friend Christians can be.
2. We use Jesus as an excuse to be angry or rude.
Rejection is a fear deeply ingrained in each of us, and I think as Christians, we’re just waiting for the moment we’re going to be rejected. So you know what we do? We work to make that happen sooner. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We feel like we have to fight for our beliefs, that we’re going to be challenged or rejected, and so we become headstrong, mean, even rude before anyone else gets the chance.
We cite scripture, saying, “Jesus was hated so I’m going to be hated too.”
But we forget just who Jesus was hated by: Religious people.
Jesus being hated isn’t an excuse to be rude. Jesus was hated because of his love. And if there’s any reason we’re hated or rejected, I vote it’s love too.