Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why We Hate Christians

Have you ever been out with a believer who makes an absolute fool of themselves? Once at a grocery store my friend began yelling at an employee. He waved his arms, drawing attention to himself and his 'Jesus Loves You' T-shirt. It caused such a ruckus that a manager intervened while shoppers gawked.

My first reaction was shame. I wanted to melt into the wall or tackle my friend. Why would he embarrass Christ like that?

But a few weeks ago I had a different response when a similar scenario happened at a baseball game. An immature mother flipped out on her ten year old son, screaming and embarrassing him in front of several hundred people. She rumbled up the stadium steps, a small Nascar shirt hugging her swollen gut, two beers sloshing violently in each hand.

At first I was angry again. I wanted to jump up and defend the poor kid from his white trash mom. Why would she humiliate her boy like that?

But my anger dissipated almost immediately. Sure, I still felt depressed for the kid, but the fury melted into poignant sympathy. It's not like the lady was wearing a 'World's Best Mom' shirt. No model parent pretense. She was basically admitting for anyone within earshot, "I'm an awful parent, and I desperately need help. Anybody, please!"

It's easy to surmise that she grew up in a rough situation and is just repeating what she knows. Or maybe she rebelled, but so what, she's hurting now! Somebody needs to love that lady! Hurry, now! Before her kid grows up and becomes a criminal.

But my reaction at the grocery store was totally different. My initial embarrassment broiled into indignation. I was mad at my friend for representing one message with his shirt, and an entirely different one with his outburst. It's frustrating because people don't discover we love Jesus and think "Hoo-ray, someone has faith!" They think, "Ugh, some hypocrite is judging me." If you ask me, we don't need extra gas on that fire.

How can American Christians still think that leading out with religion is a good first move. How obtuse are we? Isn't it obvious that the emotional barriers towards God are sky high for pretty much everyone? People in general are wounded and guarded, they don't feel safe, they do feel accused, and they've definitely been burned before.

Why are we running around spouting truisms and mantras like it will magically change someone's life. That's ridiculous. It would be like Jesus prancing around the countryside saying things like, "a prayer a day keeps the demons away." He might have sold some T-shirts, but he definitely wouldn't have been our Savior.

That's why I get testy. I think hyper-spiritual enthusiasts parading in front of defensive people is like hyenas cornering a wounded rhino. The minute that rhino sees an opening he's gonna charge for all he's worth to impale those crazy cats.

But since we Christians are judged as a group, it's our foolish hyena friends that give us our terrible name. We're forever getting gored in public because hurting people know nothing else but to lash out when they feel threatened. Which is why I get so mad when people represent themselves as Christians and then flaunt their immaturity and hypocrisy. I grew up hiding my immaturity and hypocrisy, why can't you hide yours too?

But obviously, I haven't gotten it right either. So where's the balance? If it's no good to be a fake, and it's no good to be an unabashed jerk, then where does that leave us? How do we live when everybody's hurting and everybody's watching? Is there some kind of authentic middle ground? And while we're figuring this out can somebody please rein in our weird friends. I'm tired of blushing in the corner.


  1. Good luck with the weird friends, it's inevitable. Their are weirdos in every circle. It's all about "show and tell". Once people have experienced you (assuming your showing God's love), then you'll have the right to speak into their lives.
    The reason we get a bad rap is because we're "representing" God, whereas most other people screwing up are just representing themselves.
    The magnifying glass is centered on Christians... the world truly is looking for a reason to believe, but having a hard time finding one in the modern church.

  2. Excellent post, and I like the way you always seem to come back to the "how" question. For me, it's gotten to the point where I'm hesitant to claim that I'm a "Christian". It's not because I'm ashamed of Jesus, I'm just aware of what the term brings to mind for other people. If I'm honest and learning to love as I am loved, is that enough? Do I need a label? Or am I just another breed of hyena?