How to Piss Off a Christian in 372 Words Or Less

My wife told me I needed to write a more “upbeat” post because my last couple have been “too dark and introspective.”  And, I had every intention of doing so  (especially because today is her birthday!) . . .

I really did.

Until I read a post from a fellow Christian blogger that include this little nugget of joviality:

The child of God is the one who has placed his full faith and confidence in Jesus alone.  Without that he is “unsaved” and a child of Satan.

We struggle with this truth because of what it means about some of our acquaintances, friends, and family members.  “But,” you object, “the unsaved person next to me on the ride is so nice.  He can’t be filled with the devil” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Consider the “nice” unsaved person you’re thinking of.   Besides being under the total control and influence of the devil, he is not righteous … does not understand spiritual truth … does not seek after God … has willfully turned away from God … is unprofitable … does nothing good … has a mouth which is an open grave filled with deceit and poison … cursing and bitterness … his feet are swift to destroy others … destruction and misery are his way …. he has zero peace … and absolutely no respect for God  (Romans 3:10-18).  Yeah, I agree, that unsaved person is really “nice.”

*sigh*

Is it just me?  This really pissed me off; and I’m not even 100% sure why.

Why is it I get so up in arms when fellow brothers in Christ lift passages of scripture, twisting them juuuuust enough to make a point? A point, I might venture, that was never intended by the original writer (i.e. GOD).   

The first scripture referenced is Ephesians 2:1-3:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient, All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Okay, point taken.  But let’s continue on to verse four and five:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

“Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” makes it sound an awful lot like Christ died for sinners, too—the before-they-were-saved-type sinners.  Including us. ALL of us.  God extends his grace through Christ to all of us.  The only difference being that there are those yet to accept that grace, those who haven’t been made aware of their need, or those who haven’t believed it necessary.  And there are those who have.

It’s not a race.  It’s not a contest.  It’s not fodder for a superiority complex.

It’s Grace.   Hmmm . . . .

Another passage of scripture, well cherry picked for use, is from Romans 3 starting at verse ten:

10 As the Scriptures say,

“No one is righteous—
not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
13  “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14  “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15  “They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18  “They have no fear of God at all.”

But let’s go one verse earlier to gain a little more context shall we?

Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one……

Paul is saying ALL people—everyone—are under the power of sin.  The “no one” part of “no one is righteous” includes ALL of us.  But let’s do a little more contextual research: What was Paul quoting when he made these points?

Psalm 14:The Lord looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!

There’s that “all” again.

Psalm 5:My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with flattery.[a]
10 O God, declare them guilty.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.

In order to rebel, one has had to follow. David wasn’t speaking of pagans or the “unsaved”, he was talking about those within his own kingdom—at one time friends and fellow believers.

 Isaiah 59:1-2,7-8 Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore. . . . .

Their feet run to do evil,
and they rush to commit murder.

They think only about sinning.
Misery and destruction always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace

or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads,
and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.

Isaiah is saying this, again not to pagans, gentiles or the “unsaved”, but to all the people of Judah.

It saddens me when I read rhetoric like this from fellow believers.  This is not the way to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).  This is not the way to “seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10).  This is not the way to “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6)

If you want to win the world for Christ, you don’t start by cutting off His outstretched arms and using them to beat up on those far from Him.  As Dr. Phil is fond of saying, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

I’ll bet you’ve just got tons of “nice, unsaved” friends, my blogosphere brother.

No . . .

Probably not . . .

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8 thoughts on “How to Piss Off a Christian in 372 Words Or Less”

  1. The comments in the blog you refer to are a good example of “black and white” and “all or nothing” thinking in some “Christian” (and I use that word with reservations) circles. Perhaps our own salvation is at risk when we take it upon ourselves to determine the righteousness or “saved” condition of another. Only God can read hearts—that is one of the reasons we have been admonished by Jesus Christ not to judge others. There are very few (if any) people in this world who are all “good” or all “bad”. Most of us are just struggling, and sometimes stumbling, along the path to God. I have had many experiences in my life where I have felt the great love, patience and goodness of our Heavenly Father. I have been humbled at the blessings he has poured out on me even when I felt SO weak and undeserving. The God I have come to know is not anxious to condemn his children—rather he reaches out to them, sometimes through others, and pleads, “Come unto Me. Let me heal you. Trust in me.” Joseph Smith said it well: “The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs….if you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.”

  2. I so agree with you, Kent.
    It’s a mystery to me just how we (Christians) think we’re being a “light” when we go around blinding people.

    1. Thank you Debbie, and I agree. Certitude is a particularly sticky subject with me; the prevailing attitude within certain Christian circles of, “Your WRONG, dammit!” is just not leaving the door open for a whole lot of discussion after that. There’s an interesting article by Gary Tandy (here) on the subject of certitude, but I’d take his ideas even a step further and ask, “How can you Mr./Ms. Christian be so sure of yourSELF let alone your knowledge and beliefs?” I think if more people of (any) faith were to spend as much time examining themselves as they do others, you’d see a lot more of,

      “9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:9-11

      ……just sayin’

  3. This is one of my biggest frustrations about Christians. Parading around like they are better than “non-Christians.”. How many people are we hurting and pushing away from the Jesus we want them to know with our judgmental actions? People want to see genuine love, genuine integrity, true compassion and love. If we cannot show them these qualities as Christians, how can we offer them hope and why would they want to know our Jesus if we ourselves are a huge turn-off?

    1. Yup! How many people, after hearing someone they know as a Christian say, “Besides being under the total control and influence of the devil, you are not righteous … do not understand spiritual truth … do not seek after God … have willfully turned away from God … are unprofitable … do nothing good … have a mouth which is an open grave filled with deceit and poison … cursing and bitterness … your feet are swift to destroy others … destruction and misery are your way …. you have zero peace … and absolutely no respect for God” will say, “Oh Gee, your right. I AM all of that. THANK YOU for pointing that out. I had no idea! Now I want to be JUST LIKE YOU.”

      Mmmmm, not happenin’ . . .

  4. And what about John the Baptist? Just before he died he sent a messenger to Jesus to ask if Jesus was truly the Messiah. Apparently, he didn’t have “full faith and confidence in Jesus alone.” So then, John the Baptist wasn’t a Christian? The part that pissed off this Christian is the thought that Christians are perfect, without the occassional doubt about the mysterious God we follow. It gives the impression that transformation by the Holy Spirit is a myth and that all Christians have arrived. Not me. Not yet. Someday we will be!

    And of course, his perspective throws up a substantial dividing wall of hostility – a major theme not only in the rest of Ephesians, but introduced in the very chapter he quotes from!

    1. Thanks for the great comments Dave, and thank you for the follow. You make a good point about the mistaken thought that Christians need be perfect, without the occasional doubt. I think that the wonder of God, being in His very essence a mystery (“My thoughts are not your thoughts . . .”, etc.), should provide believers with the confidence that doubt and questioning are okay; and sometimes a necessary part of growth and maturity in one’s walk with Christ. The image of “perfection”; of “better than”; that this writer puts forth does nothing but put up a wall for those seeking, or far from God. And, it does nothing but throw out a stumbling block for those who are trying to better understand their beliefs and/or come to terms with their faith. it certainly doesn’t make our job any easier! 🙂

  5. Love it! The concept of ‘saved’ and ‘unsaved’ is not an excuse for spiritual in-group/out-group behaviour, like we’re rival football teams in some bizarre intergalactic multi-dimensional sports match. Though now I’m wondering what that would look like. Who would be the referee?

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