Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off the Moral Hook

Why Christians should let non-Christians off the moral hook

I feel like I need to get something off my chest.

It bothers me  that Christians continually express shock, disapproval and judgment at the way non-Christians live.

You’ve seen it, and maybe even done it:

Doesn’t anyone believe in marriage anymore?

I can’t get over how many people today smoke weed.

Can you believe they just sleep in instead of coming to church?

Did you hear they moved in together? That’s so bad!

What’s wrong with our government? Why don’t they uphold biblical values?

Whenever I hear that, I I feel like saying “Do you seriously expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?”

Think it through.

Most people in the West no longer consider themselves Christian.

Or even if they use the term “Christian” to describe themselves, few believe in the authority of scripture or profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

So why would we expect them to behave like Christians? Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:

Wait until marriage to have sex?

Clean up their language?

Be celibate when they’re attracted to people of the same sex?

Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?

Seriously? Why?

They’re not pretending to be Christians. Why would they adopt Christian values or morals?

Please don’t get me wrong.

I’m a pastor. I completely believe that the Jesus is not only the Way, but that God’s way is the best way.

When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100% agree.

I do everything I personally can to align my life with the teachings of scripture, and I’m passionate about helping every follower of Christ do the same.

But what’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus for behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?

Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?

Before you judge a non-Christian for behaving like a non-Christian, think about this:

1. They act more consistently with their value system than you do. It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite, because they tend to live out what they believe. Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are. Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans. But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.

2. Your disapproval is destroying the relationship (if you have even have a relationship in the first place). Some of the most judgmental Christians have zero non-Christians friends. Is that a surprise, really? I mean, on a human level,  how many people have you made time for this week that you know disapprove of who you are and the way you live? Exactly.

3. Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. People don’t line up to be judged. If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.

4. Judging outsiders is unChristian. Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church. Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others. Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us were saved by the good we did but by grace.

So what can you do?

1.  Stop judging non-Christians. Start loving them. Very few people have been judged into life-change. Many have been loved into it.

2.  Empathize with non-Christians. Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t a Christian, what would I be doing?” Chances are you might be doing exactly what the non Christians in your neighbourhood are doing.  Understanding that and empathizing with that completely changes how you see people. And they can tell how you see them.

3. Hang out with non-Christians. Jesus did. And caught plenty of disapproval for it. I have a friend who continually drops f-bombs in my presence. As much as it bothers me, I never correct him (he’s not a kid, he’s my peer). But I do pray for him every day and we talk about my faith. I pray I see the day when he’s baptized.

4. Pray for unchurched people. It is impossible to remain enemies with someone you genuinely pray for daily.

5. Live out your faith authentically. Your actions carry weight. Humility is far more attractive than pride. When a non-Christian sees integrity, it’s compelling.

I just have a feeling if we in the church loved the world the way Jesus did, the world might come running to Christ.

And, then. the change we long to see might actually begin to happen.

  • Ginger

    In a way, reminds me of a song that I have heard sung.

  • Dan

    I agree. All I am really saying is that while demonstrating love in our behavior and actions, the issue of sin, as central to the message of the gospel, must, at some point be addressed, by someone, That someone might be me, it might not. My goal in personal evangelism is not to beat people over the head with their sin, but to get to the real issue of sin in the dialogue leading to the foot of the Cross. The greatest love that Jesus demonstrated is having taken MY sin on the Cross. Does that make sense to you? I have actually had Christians tell me that the job of talking about the problem of sin is not my job, but that I should only speak of Jesus’ love. I find that to be spitting in the face of my Savior. Just my opinion.

  • http://www.careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

    When it came to outsiders, Jesus led with ministry and followed with theology. The Pharisees did the opposite. Jesus’s approach was (and is) to love people into life change. The Pharisee’s approach was to try to judge people into life change. I think more people have been loved into change than judged into change. I think following the approach of Christ is the best and most rewarding way to go.

  • Dan_Cartwright

    While we cannot expect unbelievers to live up to God’s moral standards, they aren’t ‘off the hook’. It’s just not our job to hang ‘em’. They are still on God’s ‘hook’, aren’t they? Unbelievers already know they are wrong about a lot of things anyway and I don’t need to remind them. Romans 1 tells us there are two kinds of people – those who have embraced the truth of God and those who suppress the truth that they already know, that God is. They might very well ‘feel’ judged when we merely offer God’s take on an issue. Are we to refrain from talking about God’s opinion when we are involved in a discussion about a hotbed issue? I’m not going to make this or that sin a ‘campaign’ issue, but I have a duty to at least express what God says.

    Having said that, we believers are in an interesting predicament. We are all called to share the gospel with the lost around us. At the same time we have a message(Christ died for our SINS) that is inherently offensive to those same lost people, but one they desperately need to hear at some point. What do we do? Do we avoid talking about sin in leading them to Christ? I don’t see how that is possible. Sin is the main issue that the Gospel addresses, At some point we have to discuss the issue, at which point someone will be offended, at least if God has not opened a heart to hear (like Lydia in Acts 16).

    So I pray that God will open a heart and share the offensive gospel anyway. I just don’t pick on specific sins.

  • =)

    Hi there, I have some points which I don’t agree with you. I think you’re not quite getting the point right. Please don’t get offended, but I just want to say, MOST christians are not judging the non-christians of how they behave so that the non-christians can behave like us. And I’m only saying this because I hope you will understand, since you are a pastor. It is God who made every human being on this world, the difference between christians and non-christians are just that we are touched by the holy spirit to be willing to follow Him, and the non-christians not, or not yet. Everyone are His work, and we should be obeying Him. He made man and woman to be what He thinks is the best, and if you are really a Christian, you’ll know that there is no better way than His way. Everyone are made to be who we are, for His purpose and His will, and it is just a principle that we, as christians should stand firm for. I don’t really know how to explain, but hope you will understand. Sorry if you are offended by my words, but I’ll surely pray for you =)

  • yeye akinrogun

    A significant number of Christians fail to remember that Jesus was the only way at the time of his existence. He did not say he was and would be the ONLY way for ever.God is not a static God. He sent Isiah,Jeremiah,Ezekiel, Moses etc. well before Jesus. The prophets before Jesus were all JEWS who practiced Judaism.I am an African from Nigeria and of Yoruba ancestry, my ancestors experienced a PROPHET known as ORUNMILA who referred to the voice of GOD as IFA (pronounced phonetically as EEFAH). Orunmila’s teachings were exactly the same as that of YESHUA inappropriately known as JESUS. If Yeshua was the TRUTH, it is about time his followers via Paul consider following the TRUTH. Calling YESHUA the name Jesus does not represent the TRUTH because JESUS was not his name. May i suggest CHRISTIANS refer to the so called JESUS as YESHUA, otherwise CHRISTIANS are a bunch of LIERS, who cannot practice what they preach. The so called CHRISTIANS came to Africa to spread the gospel of immorality which has led to many women and men involved in sexual intercourse before marriage consequently dysfunctional families.
    The Yorubas knew all what YESUA stood for and more before YESHUA, who was an ISRAELI. Why God will decide that an ISRAELI is the only way and the only route to GOD of diversity is EGO DRIVEN.
    It is increasingly clear JESUS (real name )YESHUA is just one of the ways whilst the UNSEEN GOD who has never been born vaginally by a woman is the ONLY way.

  • Wendell Moats

    I absolutely agree with you. We need to stop judging
    other people that don’t seem to fit our “Christian agenda”. While I
    was reading your article, the recent decision made by the Boy Scouts America
    about allowing churches, schools, or communities that sponsor scouting to
    decide whether they will allow gay youth to join or not came to mind. I can’t
    speak for the BSA or the churches. In my opinion the reaction from many
    churches was appalling. The same thought occurred to me when I read how they reacted. Who are they to judge others? These churches decided to stop
    sponsoring their scouting program because someone else made a decision and so the boys in their program have to suffer for it. It seemed to me that these churches picked out one part of God’s word and used that as an excuse to justify their action. What ever happened to “Judge not or Love thy neighbor”? I don’t recall ever seeing anywhere that we can just pick out of the Scriptures what we want, and ignore the rest.
    I’m a volunteer in the Boy Scouts and I’m staying

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  • Beth Christensen

    Hi Carey. Greetings from Adelaide South Australia. Nice post!

  • cnieuwhof

    Thanks Denise. :)

  • Denise

    Great message!! Keep preaching it, my brother!!!

  • http://www.zacharycochran.com/ Zachary Cochran

    Any resources on how you would handle a friend who claims to be a Christian but is living pretty clearly outside of the guidelines in Scripture?

  • cnieuwhof

    Sorry to hear that. I think Jesus felt compassion for non-Christians who were far from their Heavenly Father, but anger at the believers who pretended to be close but weren’t.

  • cnieuwhof

    Zachary…that’s a totally different story.

  • Robert Holley

    You are not “stuck” working and living with wicked blasphemous people. The most ” reverse- judgmental” on this subject seem always to be pastors. I am not saying you, but sometimes pastors are the most ignorant people on this subject.

  • http://www.zacharycochran.com/ Zachary Cochran

    What about people who profess to be Christians?

  • bj1sjr

    Concerned Jesus follower : I agree with what you’re saying; we
    should not be consumed by non-Christian’s cussing or exclamatory phrases. There’s much more that we should address first as a church body than just that. But it seems like you have misinterpreted what the OP said.

    The OP never stated that he prays specifically for his friend to stop cussing. I live with non-Christians who cuss, do I pray for them to stop cussing? No. I pray for them to see the Lord how I see Him. I pray that they would be enlightened. I also live with Christians who cuss. Them, I do pray for their cussing. I pray that they would be convicted by the Spirit to live the obedient Christian lifestyle that reflects God’s kingdom. I pray that they follow Christ with everything that they have instead of following half-heartedly, choosing when to obey and when to put God on the shelf for later keeping.

    The poster never said he specifically prays for his friend’s potty mouth. In fact, he goes on to say, “I pray to see the day when he’s baptized.”

  • Concerned Jesus follower

    Your message sounds so great… but then you pray for your buddy because he drops f-bombs? You really think Jesus would care what exclamatory phrase someone says when they stub their toe? ‘Dang it’ or ‘F—’? This isnt the conversation the church needs to have right now. We need to move past archaic and ill-defined parameters of ‘morals’ for followers of Jesus- because some of them are merely cultural and are alienating. ‘Cussing’ is NOT addressed in the Bible- slander and being mean is though.

    The point here is that you are perpetuating the problem you are criticizing here. Sure, it sounds ‘good’ to tell people not to judge- but it doesn’t make a difference when you turn right around and say “but my buddy is bad for cussing and needs prayer” when that issue is so murky. I disagree that the Bible touches on other issues you mention too. But that’s beside the point.

  • Joshua

    I think it’s important to point out that NO sin is acceptable for communion. It is wrong for a non – married couple living together to take communion and then go home and have sex just as much as it is wrong for me to take communion and then go home and act out a pornography addiction. Certainly it is ultimately up to individuals to decide for themselves whether or not they take communion. But if I am aware of my brother’s habitual sin should I not confront him about it! (and would I not discourage him from taking communion until he is truly ready to accept God’s grace and the life it calls him to?) Yes, nobody is perfect. But we approach communion accepting the grace and mercy of God. Nobody can do that if they are habitually loving in sin. And if it is also open sin we have an obligation to love our brothers and sisters better than just looking the other way.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=32305931 Teresa Ulrich

    This has been on my heart for a while. Thanks for writing this.

    I would add two things from my recent musings about being judgmental (warning–this might become a novel):

    1) We need to quit judging, yes, but we also needn’t leave out truth when/where
    it is needed. We shouldn’t never share the Gospel. It must be proclaimed for
    people to believe (Romans 10). I can infer, though, from the few posts of yours
    that I have read that you would agree with this. Judgment and Gospel are two
    different things.

    This is part of my testimony. I used to be so judgmental. I used to think that
    my “morally upright” behavior made me a Christian, somehow put me on the inside. I was up above people, and it was my job to bring you up to my level by changing your behavior. I slung Bible verses at people to accomplish this. Wasn’t I so good, God?

    But, on the inside, something was wrong, and I knew it. I could never quite label what was wrong with me. All my good living on the outside couldn’t fix the inside of me, and I went through cycles of self-judgment and self-condemnation. I was miserable, to the point where I no longer wanted to be a Christian. It just wasn’t working.

    Eventually, through God’s good grace, I started going back to church, and started listen to Gospel-oriented teaching. One particular sermon hit me over the head. It was about Jesus in the garden, and He was praying about the cup. The teacher explained that the cup is filled with the wrath of God, and our sin stores up the wrath. When we die, we drink that cup; Jesus drank it for us in our place.

    Suddenly, I saw myself as a sinner. I had never been able to label *myself* as a sinner before. IMMEDIATELY my view of others changed. I was no longer above others. (My second reaction was anger. “Jesus, you shouldn’t have done that! That was my cup to drink!” I cried for several days. My third reaction was, “But… He did it anyway.” Oh, to Grace, how great a debtor…)

    I no longer try to change behavior. My aim is to engage people–church attenders (who are not all Christians, as you know!) and non-church attenders–with Jesus. If non-Christians go on and on about Christians and church, but never discuss Jesus, then they have never really met Him. I don’t beat people over the head with it, but I am always looking for opportunities to have Gospel-oriented conversations with others, and that has been way more effective and fruitful than beating people with how to have good behavior.

    2) We should not be afraid of engaging in hard conversations with non-believers. Christians often shut down in the face of discussions about science, gay marriage, and other cultural hot topics. We also have “pat” answers to accompany questions that just don’t satisfy the mind. I think we do this because we are afraid of asking the questions ourselves, that by somehow asking questions of God indicates that we have a lack of faith, when in reality questions can bolster our faith and help us to worship Him more, if we ask from a posture that seeks to know Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture and not what we want Him to be or think He should be. If we wrestle with these questions ourselves, it is much easier to face tough questions from others. It’s one thing to share an answer because it’s just what you’ve always heard and the answer be rejected, and it’s another thing to share an answer because you’ve wrestled with it and you’ve come to the conclusion that it is truth based on Scripture and the answer be rejected. If you are convicted with the truth, hot-button conversations are a lot easier; you won’t have to go in on the defense.

    We also need to learn to listen. People don’t just wake up in the morning and decide to believe something. They wrestle with it themselves and consult multiple sources (personal experience, books/articles/etc., other people,
    etc.). They research. We shouldn’t respond to peoples’ beliefs and questions like they are stupid. People are not stupid; they are blind (2 Cor 4). We need to listen with open ears, be willing to consider other points of view (without compromising the boundaries of truth in Scripture), and then gently engage them with the Gospel as the Holy Spirit leads.

    I think that’s it…I wish I could pick your brain over a cup of coffee!

  • Drive-by blogger

    You are correct Pastor when you quote Paul from I Cor. 7 that it’s not our job to discipline the world for their sins. So, I’m not going to walk around all day getting into fights with unbelievers so that I can feel self-righteous by “putting them in their place”. But, God is the God of everyone whether they believe or not. The more sin they get involved in the worse their day of judgment will be and the more they’ll have to answer for.. If you tell an unbeliever to stop lying on their taxes, that could be one less sin they are judged for. If you tell an unbeliever that sex with multiple partners outside of marriage is a bad idea, once again, that could be one less sin they answer for. It’s loving to warn someone of dangerous behavior, not hateful. Unfortunately, many Christians can come across hateful.

  • http://twitter.com/NarrowGauge Narrow Gauge

    I think the reason many of us do this is the same reason many of us dig deep into theology: It is easier to do those things than it is to actually live out the Gospel in our own lives.

    By pointing out the fault in others, it takes our gaze off of our own walk. By studying more and more about God, it gives us the illusion that we are following Him more, when in reality we may just be gathering more information about Him that we won’t live out.

    There is a flip side to this coin that I have noticed in many seeker-driven services: We teach non-christians how to act as christians, without actually becoming christians.

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  • Chrissy

    Just listened to one of your online talks and enjoyed. Thanks for taking the time to answer me. Much appreciated.
    Yours in Christ

  • Chrissy

    Thanks for your answer. No communion is not the place but was using this as one example. The Pulpit is a starting point for teaching and to come to the point, in my church it is not being used and that is what is heart breaking. Have to say last year I reacted to personal circumstances and did not act but as I have said I did learn so much. Oh I knew what was right and wrong but it was a process and a long one. I really had a major introduction to the flesh and the spirit at war but nothing is wasted and have been able to put my arms around others and talk from experience. Now it was not a lesson I would have wanted but God is Sovereign and in that I put my trust.

    As for Church I believe God has us in places for a reason so I will just keep teaching my teens and praying. His ways are not ours but his plans are perfect. There are lessons for us all and mine has been to go away and study his word for myself and it is just wonderful.

  • cnieuwhof

    Thanks Chrissy. I’m sorry if my response came across as harsh. It’s a great question and yes, pastors should speak into all aspects of how we live and grow in faith. But I’m not sure communion is the place. Do we just pick sins we decide are ‘acceptable’ for communion and others that are not? That’s the part that was confusing. I know at our church, we teach the truth as much as it’s humanly possible but we also see people convicted (I think by the Holy Spirit) about living arrangements, addictions and other things and they change. So I think that does happen, and it’s part of our sanctification.

  • Chrissy

    So sorry I asked.
    Yes, I have been a gossip and judgemental but with God’s Grace and power I do my best to avoid. I know the danger of devisiveness and am fully aware I am a sinner saved by Grace and that Grace I have to show to sinners and saved alike. Had moral issues with my own child’s behaviour and after the last year know what it is like to sit in the Holy Woodshed and learn to extend God’s Grace and forgiveness even when every fibre of my being was fighting against the Spirit. I now Praise God for the experience for the Refiner’s fire has made me a totally different person. But surely it is the duty of a shepherd of the flock to feed and teach the people? God through the spirit will convict. I belong to a congregation that is tottering to a close. Other places close by are thriving but they are taught the unadulterated truth from an open Bible and believe me certain behaviour would be challenged but in Grace and love. What is more the numbers are growing because people are crying out for integrity and truth. Non church goers sometimes know the standards better than those that attend. Society offers all the grey area they could want and sometimes what is needed is black and white. All I was asking and meaning, although I must have come across harshly, was that in certain situations surely it is the call of the pastor to deliver the word and it in itself will then be the two edged sword to convict people? Believe me I know I am not worthy to gather up the crumbs under God’s table and I do love the people of my congregation but it breaks my heart because I know how little I knew until I joined a good Bible study and these souls are depending on guidance but it is just not there and unfortunately the state of the church says it all. My daily prayer is that God will move his hand, the Bible will be opened up and the place will once again become a vibrant community and a light and a place of hope to those around.
    Thanks for taking time to answer
    Blessings in Christ

  • cnieuwhof

    Interesting question Chrissy. Some of the most pointed instruction on communion comes from 1 Corinthians 11. That’s where Paul says those who take communion unworthily are heaping judgment on themselves. The rest of 1 Corinthians is a series of blasts by Paul against factionalism, sex outside marriage, Christians suing each other, arrogance, a lack of love, insider worship and even a rebuke because many had lost faith in the resurrection. You would think chapter 11 would say “as a result, I’m shutting down communion. All of you are disqualified.” He doesn’t. He just says “rich people, don’t eat all the elements before the poor get there. And eat it together for goodness sake.” So I think that Christians who are living together qualify for communion as much as much as Christians who gossip and are judgmental do. The church should address those sins elsewhere, not at the table. At the table, the line is you draw is the those who partake need to be a Christian. And I believe you become a Christians because you were and are a sinner.

  • Chrissy

    Can I ask a question? This one drives me insane. Should people take communion who are living openly with partners and not married? Should this issue be addressed by a pastor from the pulpit? I work with teenagers and it is hard to teach them Biblical truth when they see this being allowed.. Now some of these people are lovely and are dear people. My heart breaks for them and better still I am angry that leaders are afraid to teach Biblical Truth but rather tickle ears. I have been confronted about my views and have been told I need to get into the 21st Century but God’s word does not change. I do not intend to sound legalistic and I know that I have to show God’s Grace at all times but surely the Bible is back and white and not grey when it come to God’s required standards within his church. As it says in Hosea “My people are dying for lack of knowledge.”

  • Guest

    I know it’s been a month, but i’m concerned maybe you didn’t get an answer to your question? I don’t see one so i’ll give it a shot. I do believe Jesus is the only way. I also believe His Word when he says all people will have heard His name before Judgement Day. His compassion is so deep for people and He is a just God. Also, He loves children and warns those who would mislead or put them in danger. I believe all children will go to Heaven until they reach an age of accountability whatever God decides that is. We deal with this reality by sending missionaries, money to missionaries and bibles to other countries as often as we can and honestly we all need to do more. God loves you too by the way :) and i pray you can feel this as you read it. Hope this answers your question.

  • jack

    Out of honest curiosity, how does your current worldview of damning everybody because there is no god at all solve the question you’re answering? You have to atleast admit that you’re argument is flawed because you’re upset that not all people will go to heaven in the Christian worldview, but then you condemn EVERYONE with the atheistic worldview you currently hold.

  • Abby Fennema

    BAM. Well said my friend. I love this.
    “They act more consistently with their value system than you do.” Amen.

  • http://www.charlielyons.ca/ Charlie Lyons

    Well put, Pastor Carey. Well put indeed.

  • steve

    That statement make me an atheist….Do you really believe that? and if you do how do you have compassion for children that are born in different countries that follow different paths, not havong the ability to learn or a choice on their religion, are they going to hell? This question is the most damning questions I can never get though and practice any religion…Good luck answering, and I will be waiting for your wisdom

  • http://www.facebook.com/roy.snow.56 Roy Snow

    I love reading good conversations like this. Carey I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to re-post my other comment in here as well since this discussion fits also.

    The biggest issue that most non-Christians have is the lack of
    continuity within the people of Christianity. Unfortunately if you
    put 10 devout Christians in a room I pretty much guarantee that out of
    the 10 people, most of them have a different opinion about what the
    Bible says in regards to Gay marriage. When a person reads a book,
    that person takes those words that are printed and interprets them based
    on the experiences they’ve had in their lives. Everyone can take any
    printed media and manipulate it for their own gain and unfortunately
    that’s what most people see when they look at Christianity. Here’s a
    bunch of people that can’t even agree on what their most Holy and Sacred
    text says and if you don’t believe in or agree with what their leaders
    teach you’ll be excluded from things or treated poorly. This is the
    main reason we have so many different denominations within Christianity.
    As you said, most non-Christians are very predictable in the way they
    act or respond to a specific environment. If I’m driving down the
    road and cut someone off I expect them to be angry, maybe flip me the
    proverbial bird and or drive carelessly to exact revenge. But hasn’t
    the church historically done the same thing? Non-Christians see
    Christians a hypocrites. They see us like that because many of us are
    and it’s easier to just paint everyone with the same brush rather than
    say that there are some Christians out there who do try to follow Gods
    teachings. When I talk to non-Christians about my belief I use this
    analogy. The Garden of Eden is like McDonalds Play Land and we are
    the little 4 year old children and God is our Father. He says,
    “Here, go, play. When you are hungry there’s food over here for you
    and you can have whatever you like and be carefree. But, don’t break
    the rules. If you do we will be leaving and you won’t be allowed to
    come back.” So what happens? The children break the rules and our
    Father says “Everyone out! You broke the rules.” But then he feels
    bad and when he calms down he says, “Well, you broke the rules but
    here’s a chance for you to make it better and come back and play with
    me.” Then he gives us a rule book of 147 rules to follow and gives us
    the opportunity to follow them. So what happens you may ask?
    Well we follow the rules for a while but it becomes hard and we stop.
    So because our Father loves us he says, “Ok. 147 rules may be allot to
    expect from little children so here’s a teacher and he’s made things
    easier. His name is Moses and he’s got a new book with 10 rules in
    it. Please follow the rules because I want you to come and play with
    me again.” So what happens? Because we are little children and
    have a short attention span, many of us break all the rules again.
    Like any loving Father he gives us another chance. “Because you keep
    messing up I’m going to give you all another chance. Here’s my Son
    and his name is Jesus and he’s come to your room to teach you how to
    follow the rules. All you have to do is listen to him, believe in him
    and study his teachings and you can come play with me again.” The
    only person that can bring you back to God is yourself. To many
    people care what others are doing but I’m the only one that can make the
    decision to follow Gods word and go back to play in McDonalds play
    land. The Opportunity is there but Christians make it very difficult
    for others to learn the teachings because of their behavior. Many of
    us have become the people in the Temple in Capernaum in John 2:12-17.
    Sorry for the long post. :)

  • Carey Nieuwhof

    Nathan…thanks for this. You made my heart sink there for a second. Jen is right, the text reads that “not only is Jesus the way, but God’s way is the best way.” But I’ve amended the original to italicize only (might be clearer that way). Thanks for pointing this out.

  • Jen

    reread it before you get so worked up. you read it wrong.
    he says not only is Jesus the way, but God’s way is best.

  • Nathan

    I need to point out one MAJOR flaw in this: “I’m a pastor. I completely believe that Jesus is not the only way.” Let’s back this up. There is no other Way to God besides Jesus! Jesus Himself said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and no one comes to the Father except through me.” Did you catch that? Jesus truly is the ONLY way.

  • http://www.inlightofeverything.com/ Josh

    A friend shared this post – I resonate with this deeply. Thanks for your words.

  • Jim

    Jonah 1:2

  • cnieuwhof

    Thanks for the comments Roma and Brian. Sara, thanks for the question. I wouldn’t want to teach the prosperity Gospel, but I do believe obedience to God’s word tends to lead to better relationships, finances and emotional health. Forgiveness is better than bitterness, love better than hate, margin and generosity are better than consumption and debt etc. So that’s where I was coming from. Hope that helps.

  • http://luke1428.com/ Brian @ Luke1428

    This is a great post and I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. I guess my question is, why do Christians express shock, disapproval and judgment of how non-Christians live? Are we trying to make ourselves feel better by pointing out the faults of others? Are we trying to garner attention by creating a false sense of personal outrage at their behavior? Or are we trying to keep them at arms length because deep down we really don’t want to connect with them? Thanks for the challenge.

  • Roma

    Thank you Carey. It is true that we cannot expect non-Christians to act like Christians. If the Christians would stop acting like non-Christians and start acting like the forgiven and loved people they are, God could really become contageous with the world.

  • Roma

    Thank you Carey. It is true that we cannot expect non-Christians to act like Christians. If the Christians would stop acting like non-Christians and start acting like the forgiven and loved people they are, God could really become contageous with the world.

  • Sara Smith

    I’m wondering if you can expand on this point, “When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100% agree.” This sounds like the health and wealth gospel to me, but from the rest of your article I’m not sure that’s what you meant. Are you saying that life goes better (ie better jobs, better marriages, healthy family etc) if we follow biblical teachings? Maybe define what you mean by ‘life goes better’?

  • cnieuwhof

    Thanks Michael and Roy. And Roy, you are correct. Sometimes non-Christians behave more Christian than Christians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roy.snow.56 Roy Snow

    mlukaszewski: Good post. I was just thinking that in this day and age I’m more surprised when Christian actually act like Christians more than when they don’t.

  • mlukaszewski

    This is an EXCELLENT post Carey.

    I remember growing up in a traditional Baptist Church and hearing Christian leaders say things like, “Can you believe what Madonna did?” (Yes, this was the 90s).

    I don’t understand why Christians are surprised when non-Christians don’t act like Christians. We probably should be more surprised when Christians act like non-Christians!