Do the acts of some people who are (or claim to be) Christians invalidate the ministry and claims of Jesus? Christianity can be given a bad wrap, especially when what seems to be focused on in the news is how Christianity or those associated with it, stumble, get caught in a scandal, or do something horrible and claim to be "led by God." This session we look at some of the incredible contributions followers of Jesus have made to world history.
You've seen the news feed scrolling on the bottom of your television..."Famous pastor admits to cheating on wife and stealing money from church- will face charges..." We've also probably been part of a conversation which starts with "I'm so tired of these hypocritical Christians!" And the response of "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven," can be trampled under foot by those who want nothing to do with easy answers to hard conversations. There is a history of Christians and the terrible things throughout all of history: The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, the killing of Native Americans, and slavery. So our question becomes, "Why would God let Christians do such terrible things?"
When discussions like these come up, we need to make sure we are not just getting one side of the argument. Remember that while some Christians used the Bible to continue the practice of slavery or harm other people, others used the Bible as their ultimate justification for fighting those same things.
We talked a bit about why these things can happen in last week's post. But it is good to remember that at some point God took a step back from creation and said "It is good." We have a choice in loving God, God loves us, but for everyone to love God and act accordingly is somewhat of a choice, for everyone in the world. God also came to the earth a Jesus to have a first hand experience of the suffering and loss. So while we may think God is far away, God is also in the midst of the pain and suffering caused by Christians and everyone in the world, regardless of religious affiliation.
While we can focus on some of the awful things done by Christians in history, it often times does not work to defend the bad things which happen. Sometimes it is best to agree that those actions don't represent Jesus, the acts of some Christians are completely indefensible and we do not need to defend our own faith against those. We can agree that these are not in line with how Jesus would respond.
Mahatma Gandhi once said of Christianity: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Which begs the question, Is it possible to change the perception of Christians that many people have? How?
Jesus had a lot to say about how to live our lives. A disciple is someone who follows "the way" of someone else. Jesus invited us to be his disciples. He also warned that many people would claim to be his followers but were not genuine disciples.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
What do you think "by their fruit" means? (Galatians 5:22)
The Fruit of the Spirit
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
The Bible is a critical foundation for the formation of a follower of Jesus. To identify what is false, it helps to know what is genuine. We do that best by knowing Jesus Christ as presented in the scriptures.
Take a look at James 1:22-25 for more information on disciplines of faith.
22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
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