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 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?
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 percent 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-Christian 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?
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 un-Christian
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 was 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
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
How many unchurched people do you pray for daily? How many people you disagree with do you pray for daily?
It is impossible to hate 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.
What do you think? Scroll down and leave a comment. 🙂
Want Practical Help?
If you want more on how your church can relate to a constantly changing culture, I wrote about it in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.
The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.
I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. I actually lost this article from my site two years ago in a site redesign. Fortunately, ChurchLeaders.com had also featured it and it’s great to be able to re-run it on this site.
In many ways, the thinking in this post is similar to my argument in my #1 most-read post of all time, Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian.—Carey