Recently a friend of mine started living for the Lord.
After a year of sharing his faith vocally, we had coffee and he told me something he found surprising.
He said that in chess, the pawn pieces are used to advance the more important pieces. They go forward and sacrifice themselves to create opportunities for the Queen, King and Bishop. He thought of himself as a pawn, trying to actively serve the needs of others and serve the kingdom, clear that life isn’t about him.
He said the biggest surprise though was that the more he served and lived a life for Christ, the more he felt attacked. But not by other people, by other Christians. He was confused because he’s never seen a King attack its own pawn in a game of chess. He’d never seen a Bishop take out its own pawn, but the more time he spent in church, the more he got attacked by the people who were supposed to be his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
I started to think about that because it’s an issue I keep seeing come up.
A pastor once said, “Nobody is as mean as Christians who are being mean for Jesus.”
I also realized that in my own life I fear sharing difficult ideas less with non-Christians than I do with Christians. Of the two crowds, in the last four years, I’ve experienced much harsher hate from Christians than I have non-Christians.
Why is that?
Why does that happen?
Why are we Christians the worst?
Because we’re new.
God is not done with us yet.
Salvation is not the same thing as sanctification.
We’re all just getting started.
But when someone says they are a “Christian,” you don’t look at them that way. You tend to assume they will be grace-filled, love-driven, servant-minded beacons of awesomeness. That would be like asking someone who had taken karate for a year if they were a black belt. Or asking a first-year medical student if they were ready to do a heart transplant.
And those are clear, tangible things that can be learned.
Those aren’t matters of the soul. Those aren’t deep, dark mysterious matters of the heart.
How long does soul transformation take? How long do you give that process?
Most of us assume it happens the moment you become a Christian, but it doesn’t. We’ve got a long way to go.
Why are Christians such jerks?
Because people are jerks.
And then they become Christians and become less of a jerk. And hopefully less of a jerk next year and the year after that and the year after that, as their minds are renewed.
They aren’t perfect. Not even close. Despite a loud, clear call to love others, we mess that up. And then we ask for forgiveness and cling to the need we have for the Savior of a thousand second chances.
And then we try again.
How do we fix this problem? The horrible reputation Christians have the world over? I’m not sure, but I’m a pretty simple guy, so I do have one pretty simple idea.
From here on out, when you meet people, tell them you are a “new Christian.” On your Twitter account the bio should read “new Christian.” In conversations, if someone asks, you are a “new Christian.”
Don’t say, “Christian.” I want you to say “new Christian” because you are not done. Even if you’re 80, you have barely begun. If our lives are told against the mosaic of eternity, we are all new. We all have so much to learn. There is so much shaping ahead.
And when we step into culture and proclaim ourselves as Christians, we create the impression that we are finished. That we are no longer petty or spiteful or angry or jealous or gossipy.
We are jerks.
But we are new. And we will ask forgiveness for the times when our hateful actions paint a false picture of a loving God. We don’t mean to, but people make so many mistakes when they are new.
And we are still new.
I’m sorry if you’ve had a horrible experience with a Christian. We don’t have a horrible God, but sometimes how I act would lead you to believe so.
He’s actually really loving.
He’s crazy about you.
He’s got a wild, passionate heart.
Even for jerks like me.
Has a Christian ever been a jerk to you?