Christians are Mean

I know this sounds like a bold statement but it's not a new one. It can be reworded in a few different ways but I'm sure you're not new to it.

I just think if this is true and Christians are... (fill in the blank). Then what does that say about Jesus? The One whom we say we follow, listen to, and try to mimic? 

Was he mean, intolerant, hypocritical, weird? Because if that's the label we carry then either he was or we are way off track and misrepresenting Him terribly.

I'm going to be bold here and say that we are missing the mark. 

That we have clung too tightly to the coat tails of fundamentalism instead of the coat tails of a loving, kind, and welcoming Jesus.

I don't presume to sit here on my high horse and shake my finger because this is a dark area of my own life. I've trudged along the battle field of legalism and pride just as much as the next Christian. 

Maybe even more.

 I've believed that I've had the right to judge someone else's lifestyle because somehow "I know better". 
I've turned up my nose at people so many times when I should have been washing their feet. 
I've thrown bibles at "sinners" with the best of them. 

This is NOT something I'm proud of. 
This is something I'm repenting of. 
This is something I'm continually messing up on and continually apologizing for. 

I notice I struggle with this the most when I am the most forgetful. When I forget where I came from. When I forget just how far Jesus had to dig me out before I made any progress with my own sin. When I forget the late nights, the slip ups, the "I can't believe I did that" moments. When I forget just how messy my own life was and still is, that's when I struggle with this the most. 

As I was reading in Matthew, the part that really stuck out to me was the intentionality of what Jesus taught and where. In the end of Matthew 4, Jesus went and taught in the synagogues. He taught in the churches, to the religious people. But then, right after that it says he shared the good news and healed all the people. Are you catching on?

He adjusted what he was doing to whom he was doing it with! 

The "people" outside the synagogues in Galilee, where he was at, were pagans and gentiles. They didn't believe in God. Those were the people he went and loved on and healed before he taught them. 

Before requiring anything from them or telling them to come to church. He loved them and met their needs FIRST! 

There were no strings attached.

And then he began to teach them but it was their choice to stay and listen. Their needs were met first so they had the option to listen or to just go home.

I believe Jesus did it this way so that they would have a choice. 

I find this so beautiful! How often do I do this with the people in my own life? How often do I love, care for, and give to people in my life before asking anything of them? Before throwing my list of requirements at them? 

Not very often if I'm being honest. 

How often do we as Christians love those who are different from us, without trying to get them to first agree with us first? 

The amazing thing about this story of Jesus is that the people stayed. 

They chose to not only stay and listen but they followed him. They were so attracted to Him, to His kindness, to His conduct, to the way He loved First, loved well, and loved those who didn't even believe in God, that they journeyed with him. 

It says "And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan."-Matthew 4:25

These were people from every walk of life! 

So I have to ask myself, am I attractive like this? Do people from different religions, lifestyles, political backgrounds, races, want to be around me? Am I loving people and caring for people so well that they want to hear what I have to say? That they stick around because I embody something worth embracing? 

Am I loving FIRST, without an agenda, without having a list of to-do's and to-don'ts in my back pocket ready to thrust at them? 

Or am I continuing to misrepresent Jesus and add on more labels to "Christian"?

Or maybe, just maybe I too can readjust what I'm doing to who I'm with. Maybe like Jesus, I too can love people right where they're at. With no hidden agenda, no ultimatums, and no strings attached. 

Then maybe, people can start to see me as kind, compassionate, humble, loving, patient, and gentle. 

Maybe, something like Jesus. 

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