Jill Carrattini, managing editor for the Ravi Zacharias e-newsletter, "Slice of Infinity" writes, "one of the comments that I hear most often as a reason for rejecting Christianity is that of its followers: ‘Christians are so hypocritical!’ ‘The problem I have with Christ is that his followers do him more harm than good.’ ‘I am continually disappointed by Christians; why should I consider their religion?’ ‘The problem I have with Christianity is Christians.’ I can try appealing to these voices to see the gap in their logic; I can try reasoning that the abuse of a religion must never stand in the way of getting at the truth of a religion. But many will not be swayed. I leave these conversations saddened not merely because the obstacles seem immovable, but because I fully understand the grievance. The letter of recommendation written upon the countenance of professing Christians is far too often a message that deters" (Slice of Infinity No. 2192, May 3, 2010).
Ouch. There is unfortunately too often too much truth in Ms. Carrattini’s comments. We’ve all heard it. It does little good to try to point to the great good accomplished by Christians over the centuries, the flesh and blood failures of many professed believers places an almost insurmountable barrier over which unbelievers stumble.
Convenient excuse? Perhaps. I attended a concert the other night that featured a portion of the William Tell Overture. The band performing it was good, but they were not perfect. There were, in all honesty, a few sour notes sounded during the performance of the piece. Of course, because of those mistakes, everyone left the performance complaining at the ineptitude of the composer, Gioachino Rossini.
Now you don’t believe that for a minute (at least I hope you don’t!). No, we understood that this particular orchestra consisted of people from all sorts of backgrounds and age ranges. There was one professional player in the pit, but apart from him, the others were amateurs, many of them children. No one in attendance expected a flawless performance of such a difficult piece.
We Christians are like that orchestra. We come from different walks of life, with different abilities, but we are all trying to follow the Master Maestro, Jesus. Sometimes we hit sour notes. That shouldn’t detract from our performance, but all too often it does. For some those mistakes are the excuse for the total rejection of the Christian Concert, so to speak. If we applied such logic to any other area of life, none of us would enjoy anything. In fact, if we applied the standards to ourselves that we apply to others, we wouldn’t even be able to stand ourselves. But I digress.
Those of you who are believers, whether we think it fair or not, Ms. Carrattini’s observations of a watching world are true. It is imperative that we who call ourselves Christian realize that we are called to a higher standard and that the world is watching. I tell my flock at Gateway on a regular basis, "If you call yourself a Christian, everything you do or say is either going draw someone to Jesus or drive them from Jesus — there is no neutral ground."
It is high time we who call ourselves by the Savior’s name, begin to live like people who have been saved. Until that happens, our message is going to continue to be seen as unbelievable. That shouldn’t surprise us. How in the world can we expect people to believe what we say we believe when we live like we don’t believe it?
The Bible says, "Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like him. Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave his life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God" (Ephesians 5:1-2, GNT).
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.