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Make Christianity Beautiful Again

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These days, the name “Christian” seems to evoke as many negative reactions as it does positive ones.

This bothers me.

Does it bother you?

Critics might summarize their feelings about Christians as Gandhi did when he allegedly said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

More recently, San Francisco journalist Herb Caen said, “The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around.”

Painfully, and from the vantage point of a Christian convert who had become disenchanted with her church, Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice wrote:

For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

Deservedly infamous. Ouch!

As a forgiven, loved, and Spirit-filled people, we can do better than this.

Can’t we?

Having been a Christian for over thirty years and an ordained minister for over twenty-five, I can sympathize with these sorts of anecdotes. As the people of Jesus, we have not always represented him well, and in our poor representation have created a public relations nightmare for the movement that he began through his death, burial and resurrection. In the eyes of a watching world, many would say our lives have been more lackluster than compelling, more ugly than appealing, more pharisaical than winsome, more contentious than kind, more self-centered than servant-like, more sexually inappropriate than sexually pure, more consumeristic than covenantal, more fickle than faithful, more greedy than generous, more proud than humble, more biblically disinterested than biblically anchored, more distracted than purposeful, more bored with Christ than alive to Christ.

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Scott Sauls is senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and is the author of several books including his latest, Irresistible Faith. He also writes weekly at scottsauls.com.