Escape the “Mean Christian” Trap

mean

The church is sometimes accused of being bigoted, angry, hateful, arrogant, elitist, and hypocritical. This doesn’t describe the churches I have been a part of, and in fact most of the churches I know well are characterized by love, generosity, humility, and the pursuit of godliness. Where does the negative perspective come from? Are they just “haters?” Unfortunately, no.

Churches sometimes get a bad rap because Christians, and often Christian leaders, are dogmatic in all issues, uncharitable in public interactions, and quick to pick a fight. Ron Edmonson recently put a label on it. Christians can be “mean.”

How is it that a people of faith, a people who have experienced grace, be so graceless? I feel competent to speak into this issue because I was for years (and perhaps am often still) one of those mean Christians. Loud. Arrogant. Pugnacious. How do we get to such a place?

In short, because we forget grace. We grow mean because we forget ourselves and our God. We forget who and what we are by nature and grace and exalt ourselves (sometimes unintentionally) above others. We forget the Lord who not only stood for truth, but is truth, and yet remains merciful. The mean Christian is big on conviction and small on compassion. But the former should give birth to the latter. Let me explain by showing the way to put to death a spirit of meanness whole growing in a spirit of meekness.

Know Who You Are by Nature
There are two things true of every human being. There two truths should simultaneously give us a sense of respect and love toward others while leading us to a place of humility regarding ourselves.

First, you, and everyone else, is made in the image of God. The imago dei is imprinted into the soul of every man, woman, and child. This is part of the common ground upon which we all stand and should relate to one another. The wicked and the righteous, the right and the wrong, and believers and the blasphemous are all image bearers and because of this they are worthy of respect and love. God is our Creator, whether we confess this or not, and because all are his we must treat them as such. How do we treat that which belongs to God? Carefully and thoughtfully. This doesn’t mean we never speak hard words, rebuke, or fight. But it requires that when we do such things we do so with care and grace.

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SOURCE: Crosswalk
Joe Thorn

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