Over the past few weeks, there have been many articles that focus on the flaws of famous Christians. Over my lifetime, I’ve heard Christians criticized behind their backs for failures made public. There has been much criticism because there are many, many flaws. This isn’t some revolutionary premise – scripture will tell us that every human is a flawed sinner. This applies to Christians as well. From my limited experience, I’ve notice that this area of the church is a major hold-up for some onlooking nonbelievers. I recently spoke to a young female at my college who said that she had read the Bible, but she still felt that her Aunt (a Christian) was just trying to fix her. She didn’t feel the love that Christians are called to give. It is my fear that while we attempt to tell others about Jesus, we often fail to demonstrate the love that is most attractive about Jesus.
When I reflect on my journey to salvation, I remember that my most humble moment was admitting that I needed a Savior – that I am flawed beyond belief. There is a delicate balance that must be struck, though. This admission had to come from within otherwise it would have been fleeting. I think sometimes in our desire to spread His good news, Christians forget that only the Holy Spirit can convict a heart. Our approach cannot mirror a world which points out the flaws of humanity. When I look at the ideals that Hollywood sets, when I remember my flaws, I lean on Christ who loves me despite those flaws. I do not need to be reminded that I fail, I need to be reminded that I am loved anyway. A nonbeliever is no different.
When I read the articles, or hear the judgmental gossip, I place myself in the shoes of a nonbeliever. The person who feels her Aunt just wants to fix her. The person who feels that Christians are hypocrites. The person who already feels the world pointing out his flaws. That onlooker sees Christians turning on another Christian for a mistake, a lapse, a failure to truly exemplify Christ’s perfection. Yes, God has set an impossible standard to show us our dependence on his mercy and forgiveness, but he also offers love and compassion when we turn to him after failing to reach his standard of perfection. That is something an onlooker cannot see. That individual sees Christians setting an impossible standard, then punishing each other for failing to meet the standard. They do not know that God sets the standard and they see only the harsh criticism of believers.
I have to ask myself, “Is that what I want to portray?” I have done exactly what I am describing here. If anything, I view myself as the biggest offender. Yet, I need to remember who it is that challenges me to love those who are hard to love – those very flawed people. It isn’t my parents, it isn’t other Christians, it isn’t my Pastors, it is the same God who sent his son to die for my failures. And if God can love us in our sin, surely we can love each other despite our failure to achieve God’s standard. Yes, we are called to exhort each other, but doing so in love is what separates us from the world.