Are Christians Harming Christianity?
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Ask any Christian why they left their previous church and their answer often revolves around being hurt by someone at their past church. Ask a former Christian why they have given up on Christianity altogether and likewise, their answer might have something to do with some less than Christian way they were treated by another Christian. Are we Christians our own worst enemy? I invite you to read more.
There was recently a poignant story circulating on the internet and Facebook. It has received lots of attention. The story goes like this:
A man went to church. He forgot to switch off, and his phone rang during prayer. The pastor scolded him. The worshipers admonished him after prayers for interrupting the silence. His wife kept on lecturing him on his carelessness all the way home. One could see the shame, embarrassment and humiliation on his face. After all this, he never stepped foot in the church again.
That evening, he went to a bar. He was still nervous and trembling. He spilled his drink on the table by accident. The waiter apologized and gave him a napkin to clean himself. The janitor mopped the floor. The female manager offered him a complimentary drink. She also gave him a huge hug and a peck while saying, “Don’t worry man. Who doesn’t make mistakes.” He has not stopped going to that bar since then.
Lesson: Sometimes our attitude as believers drives souls to Hell. You can make a difference by how you treat people, especially when they make mistakes.
Let’s face it, we Christians often have a propensity to hurt each other. The pain that we cause others frequently happens, easily and often without intent, yet the damage of our words and actions can be spiritually damaging and linger with the harmed person for a long time, sometimes even a lifetime.
Here are a few examples:
- A disapproving glance in church at a young mother whose child is misbehaving
- A glare of disgust at someone who we think is inappropriately dressed for church
- Whispering behind the backs of another family in church because their son or daughter is gay
- Gossiping about another family in church whose child was recently in the news for being arrested
- Expressing a judgmental attitude towards someone in church who struggles with addictions to alcohol, drugs, pain meds, or pornography
Sometimes even our clergy get caught up in these situations. We have probably observed a time when a minister or priest inadvertently said something to someone in the congregation in a less than kind way, and their words drove that person away from church. Conversely, how many times do people in the congregation hurt their priests and ministers by complaining and gossiping behind their back or worse yet, write nasty, hurtful and un-Christian letters to the priest or minister to complain about something.
I brought this topic up today for three reasons. First, because the cell phone story was getting a lot of play on social media and the topic needed to be addressed. Second, because I am sure that if we are honest with ourselves, we have all likely hurt someone in our own church with something we have said or done. Finally, I did so because as Christians we should all hold ourselves to a higher standard.
We should never be surprised if we get hurt by another Christian, after all, we are all flawed and sinful people. How we react to someone who hurts us might speak volumes about our spiritual maturity. The same is true if we hurt someone else. We should readily admit our mistakes and offer an apology to them if we acted poorly in the heat of the moment.
It is good for us to remember that if a painful offense was committed against us by another Christian, that person’s simple “I’m sorry,” may seem disproportionate to the ugliness of their offense. Conversely, our apology may ring hollow to others if we were the offender. In either case, both parties would be wise to remember this advice from Colossians 3:13 “bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.”
I will close today with three other Bible verses that give us guidance in these situations:
- Proverbs 15:1 “A mild answer turns back wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves”
- Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.”
Through our actions and words, let us rewrite the cell phone story and prove that Christians can act in Christian ways, and demonstrate to the world that Christianity is alive and well in our churches.
Heavenly Father, your Son Jesus bore our sins on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds we have been healed. Help us to live more like Him. Amen!
As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.
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Thank you for this….wise words from a wise man?
Thank you for your post and kind words!
Thanks, Brian, for reminding us how important it is to treat others with kindness and empathy. Actions do speak louder than words, Jim
Yes they do!
This is such a great message of how we need to treat each other. It reminds me of this wonderful song by the Avett Brothers called “No Hard Feelings.” I encourage your readers to click on the song and listen. I have no enemies.
Your friend always.
No Hard Feelings
Thanks for bringing this song to our attention. I hope everyone takes a few minutes to listen to it.
A kindly old priest once told a congregation when a child began to cry. “Friends that doesn’t me, I simply consider that as background music”. That reminded everyone that the child is indeed the future church. (I don’t know if the kid was ever invited into the choir though)
Thanks for sharing this story!
Hey Brian! Great reflection…as someone who teaches at a Catholic Christian high school, I can tell you that many of our students often get “mixed messages” on this one! Won’t go any further and will leave it at that…keeping you in my prayers..Bill
Thanks for your post. I am sure those children do get mixed messages. May God teach us how to love like He does!
This is a timely and Great article Brian
We all have to remember is that everyone’s human and make allowances.
We should be able to give someone the benefit of the doubt and another chance
Our priest is retiring in September after 30 years, so it’s going to be a learning curve for both our parish and the new priest. I hope we don’t lose parishioners and people don’t fall into the trap of thinking the parish is the priest, and move on when he leaves
Thanks for writing. We are going through the same thing at our parish. Our pastor and associate priests are leaving in July and we will be getting a new pastor and one new assistant. Transition is often a time of turmoil and worry. We need place our trust in God!