1: voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior
2: patronizing attitude or behavior
I think this is a word we are all familiar with. A word we are all disgusted with? Perhaps. A word we are all plagued with. More likely.
I’ve been discussing Christianity with various friends recently and we have all come to the same conclusion: Christians are not very Christ-like. It reminds me of the first time the label “Christians” was used in the scripture. We have all heard this before, but in Acts 11:26 we see that “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” The ironic thing is that this is an adjective and was not word that the believers called themselves but was a description that the pagans in Antioch gave them because they were following Christ. The term was most likely a derogatory term given in mockery but the pagan world looked and saw people following Christ. I wonder if they were being mocked because they actually acted like Him who they were attempting to follow. Jesus said “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Contempt and mockery comes along with bearing the image of Christ.
Why do I say image instead of name? “Christian” has become a nominal claim that holds no value but bearing the image of Christ is what we are called to do; be a reflection of Christ. I believe a major problem in Christendom is that we are trying to be too “Christian-like” and forgetting to be “Christ-like.”
Now, this is not 100% true in every local church but it is a trend I am noticing more and more that the Church is shutting their “doors” tighter and tighter. Obviously by doors I mean their hearts. The attitude in local churches is that if you are on the inside you have been blessed and are a select group of “God’s elect” but if you are on the outside then you are not worth our thoughts. It is interesting that Christ was never holed up in a building with the religious leaders of the day and reminiscing on how much better He was than the rest of the population (for He very well was MUCH better). He was mocked for sitting and eating with sinners, for talking to a woman at the well, for calling children, for rescuing prostitutes, and loving the “scum.” However, modern Christianity has turned their face from all of these ones that desperately need our love because we want to be “Christian-like.” Christians don’t talk with non-Christians! Christians don’t get their hands dirty! Christians don’t sit and eat with sinners! We want to stay in our “Christian boxes” and remind ourselves how great we are compared to all the sinners! Paul knew nothing of this attitude when he writes to Timothy “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I AM chief” (1:15). Paul knew he never lost his nature as a sinner and it motivated him to reach other sinners! I remember hearing Billy Graham tell an interviewer that the first step for a gospel preacher is to first love sinners for whom Christ died. Gospel preaching becomes dry and lifeless when the motivation behind the message is not a sincere love for the lost! Why are people leaving churches to never return? Because Christians are not “Christ-like.” Christ didn’t have to provide entertainment to get a following and He didn’t need fancy projectors and loud music. He only needed His love for every single person. What happened? They CLUNG to Him. The world knows very little of God’s love because we have been called to be the vessels of His love but instead we shut ourselves in and pat each other on the back for being such a good Christian while lives are being torn apart, people are hopeless, and the world is spiraling out of control.
When I was in California recently I was talking to my friend and he was sharing with me some of the various things he has gotten himself into out there. Every other Wed he goes and gives out burgers and Bibles to homeless people in LA. Two of the ones he has reached come to services regularly on Sunday because he takes time out of his day to just sit and talk with them and helps them in any way he can. This was just one of the things he was into and I really looked up to him for that. He surely isn’t being very “Christian-like” but he certainly is being very “Christ-like.”
I’m not sure when we lost sight of the fact that we are only sinners saved by grace but we have. Let’s step out of the box of our condescension and back into the life of love for people around. I don’t care what race, sexual orientation, religion, or social status our neighbor is, they should all be getting a glimpse at the love of Christ. Would my neighbor be able to call me a follower of Christ or is it just a label I’ve slapped on myself because I go to a Christian church? What about you? Lord, change my heart and help me to love like Christ.