High school was a difficult time for me as a believer. As most Christians who attended public school can attest to, the challenge of encountering and getting plugged into a Christian group seemed nearly insurmountable. My small, local Church offered no other students my age(upon examining the state of most modern youth groups I thank God for that protection). I was a hypocrite of epic proportions. However, I did (at least) defend the truth of Christianity. I didn’t walk it very consistently, but I did identify with it. I was known as a “Christian kid”. One time, in a very unorthodox English class, we did assignments when we had to write something positive about another classmate. This class had many abstract discussions of religion and morality up to this point, so I had made my position clear. Many students wrote about me. And they wrote things that, at the time, felt very complimentary. They certainly meant it to be complimentary.
The Most Insulting of Compliments
Five years later, I look back and see just how insulting it was.
In summary, all those who wrote about me said something to the extant of this:
“Collin is awesome because he is a Christian and he defends it well but he doesn’t push it on anyone else. He never pushes it on me or judges me or makes me feel wrong about who I am”.
Aw, I was such a nice guy right?
However, it took five years of repentance, sanctification, growing discernment, and Biblical saturation to be exposed to the humiliation of that title.
What this ultimately meant was that I was the kind of Christian who never evangelized and never called people to repentance. I casually sat back and encouraged others in their sin and opened the door for them to skip on into Hell with my condolences along the way.
It means I bought the lie that I can preach the Gospel without words and with my life only. I thought claiming Christianity was right for me and being a nice guy was enough.
Jesus and the Apostles disagree.
The truth is, Mormons are nice people. Jehovah’s Witnesses are nice people. Atheists are nice people. Many Muslims are nice people. Being a nice Christian is not the Gospel. Being nice has never saved anyone. Jesus was the kindest, most humble, polite and respectful person ever. And He was hated by most to a miserable death on a cross.
Paul was nice; he was imprisoned, tortured and murdered. Peter was nice; he was murdered.
The Gospel offends those who reject it. The Gospel is the answer to the bad news. The bad news is offensive. There are two options in the Christian’s life: To be encouraged by those who believe the Message, or to offend those who don’t.
The middle ground is for cowards. When unbelievers don’t find us annoying, offensive or judgmental it always means we don’t care enough about their salvation to say anything worthwhile.
Christians should never desire to be admired for their Christianity by non-Christians.
Paul was never afraid to offend and what is equally important was that he never adjusted his message or behavior to avoid it. The life of Jesus and the Apostles should be our shining example that offense and trouble follow all those who live out the Commission with any consistency and conviction.
I hope and pray that no one outside of Christ ever again thinks of me as a nice Christian who keeps his Christianity to himself and never imposes it or pushes it on people.
Christ saves. If we believe that, we need to push it, proclaim it and shout it until someone else silences our mouth or kills us.
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
– C.H. Spurgeon