You’ve head the statement before. Someone, maybe even you, claiming: “I love Jesus Christ. However, I can’t stand Christians!” It has almost become a cliché at this point, especially among younger Christians. They see the New Testament and are attracted towards Jesus because of His love, selfless acts of generosity, and service. When they look around at the current Christian climate, though, they don’t see churches, faith leaders, or Christian communities that reflect those values in the way they think they should.
Modern faith is incredibly complex, but is it really possible to be a follower of Christ while hating the organized church and other Christians? Does God really require us to attend church or stay involved in the community? In short, the answer is no. Jesus wants us to be unified in our faith through love, forgiveness and understanding. There are a few misconceptions about the current Christian climate that will help change the way you think about loving Jesus and the church.
The problem with Christian culture.
In the Bible, Jesus was portrayed as an extraordinary man that was wise, compassionate, and caring. He promoted love without judgement, advocated for the poor, and was a strong agent of social justice. He treated women with respect way before the idea of equal rights was ever conceived, and even befriended those who were cast out by society. Because of His actions, Jesus is looked at today as being a great man and teacher similar to the likes of the Buddha and Gandhi.
Christians, on the other hand, are not perfect and seem quite the opposite of Jesus Christ. Christians are confrontational, judgmental, intolerant and hypocritical. They commit sins that they denounce weekly in church, like adultery, deceit and abuse. When looking at it this way, it’s no surprise that some people cannot reconcile their idea of Jesus with their experience with Christians.
Christians are tired of having Jesus defined and judged by the political views, denominational affiliations, legalistic theological beliefs, strict traditions, social networks, and attitudes of others. They’re sick of the hypocrisy, judgment, fear, and shame associated with institutionalized Christianity. It doesn’t take much to get burned out on the Christian faith when churches are filled with stern rules, authoritarian doctrines, and manipulative propaganda — promoting a wide variety of agendas that have nothing to do with Jesus. This doesn’t equate to the Jesus and Christianity you understand, and that’s because many times – it’s not real Christianity.
How to start changing your mindset.
If you are facing discontentment with the Christians you see around you, it's important to realize that you are not alone. All believers at one point or another struggle with seeing others who aren't living out the real values laid out for us in the Bible. It can be a very frustrating experience. There are people out there that aren’t preaching the way God intended, however there still may people that are. We tend to forget that Christians are not Jesus and are just humans – ones who are bound to make plenty of mistakes.
As frustrating as Christian culture can be, don’t withdraw from community. Surround yourself with supportive believers who can empathize, pray, comfort, and uplift you — and do the same for them. Attend new churches to find new Christians that inspire you to build up your faith and be a part of the larger community.
Understand you also live in sin.
When you have crossed over into being cynical, though, you become the type of Christian you supposedly hate. You also do not display the love and respect for those who act differently than you, but Jesus Christ would. Jesus would see these Christians and want to keep an open mind and heart, so that He could do what He could so put them back on the right path.
There will be times in your life where you do not represent Jesus well. You don’t love the way He loved and allow sin to jump into your heart. This is okay, though, as Jesus never expected you to be perfect. You won’t be able to achieve the same level of brilliance He did, but you will be able to ask for forgiveness. Just as those Christian you supposedly hate can do too.
The gospel speaks of good news, proclaiming that Jesus Christ came to fill our needs. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). Jesus came to save us, His followers, from ourselves. We have a way out of our sin through Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Furthermore, when you tell others that you love Jesus but not His followers, you are pushing others away from the faith.There are atheists out there that also see the hypocrisy of Christian life. When they hear that Christian themselves aren’t even happy being a part of the faith, it only further solidifies their beliefs. While we do not ever have to defend the sins of others, we should feel confident in testifying that forgiveness and rehabilitation are possible.
Being a Christian in today’s society can feel hard. We see so much sin in the world and misinterpretation of God’ Word that we want to isolate ourselves from other Christians. This only makes matters worse, and is not what God wants for our faith. Loving Jesus fully means that you will make an effort to love all of His other children too – even if they do things that you may not agree with. Keep your heart open to new experiences, and you’ll start to realize you have friends in this faith.