“Hurt people hurt people” — a concept we’ve all heard yet haven’t truly understood its impact. We say that the church is a hospital for the broken, but do not actually foster space for God’s divine healing. Instead we find ourselves, the sick patients, playing doctor, providing false and inaccurate treatment for brokenness.
Growing up as an Adventist Christian, I recall numerous of times where my spirit was shattered into pieces by fellow Adventist Christians. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose (Proverbs 18:21).” Stomach tense, hands clammy, mind racing—I would literally put on my fake Sabbath smile while trying to dodge and avoid ‘those’ certain people. I went and left church in survival mode without fail. Even though I had survival mode instincts, once the doxology played, I felt immediate peace. Let’s face it, one can say my church experience was a love/hate relationship. I loved Jesus but hated those professed Christians that made me cry at night. Hated the double standard. Hated the oppression of the youth and young adults. Hated how these people made me feel. How can their words have so much weight on me? If God loved me, why didn’t He block the emotional and spiritual abuse? These are but a few questions that constantly ran through my mind. My experience unquestionably laid out the difference between a so-called Christian and a genuine Christ Follower.
It’s no secret that people today flinch when they hear the words, “I am a Christian.” When we, Christians, profess our faith to our friends, co-workers or family members, we are, more often than not, seen as primitive, pretentious, ignorant, and even oppressive. Sadly, it leaves a sour taste in their mouths and instantaneously their perspective of us changes. They see the false and inaccurate representation of Christianity portrayed in media, movies, books and other sources. We are now placed in the “ANTI-everything” zone: anti-Muslim, anti-Semetic, anti-refugee, anti-LGBTQ, anti-humanity, anti-compassion, etc. And truthfully, I get it. I get why non-Christians find it difficult to take Christians seriously. Ellen G. White says:
“He who is careless and heedless in uttering words or in writing words for publication to be sent broadcast into the world, sending forth expressions that can never be taken back, is disqualifying himself to be entrusted with the sacred work that devolves upon Christ’s followers at this time. Those who practice giving harsh thrusts are forming habits that will strengthen by repetition and will have to be repented of. We should carefully examine our ways and our spirit, and see in what manner we are doing the work given us of God, which involves the destiny of souls” (9T Ch29).
The example of Christianity the world sees today is not the movement Jesus intended it to be. Mainstream Christians both past and present, have done so much damage in the world, and sadly, the deadliest weapon of choice is Scripture. They use the Bible to give grounds for wars and perpetuate injustice with those they disagree with. John Pavlovitz, author of 6 Ways Christians Can Give Faith a Bad Name in Relevant Magazine, says, “We’ve ripped it [the Bible] from context, appropriated it for our own political agendas, selectively enforced it and brutally bashed people over the head with it—and this generation has grown weary of it all. They will not tolerate a Christianity that uses the Bible like a hammer, unless it is to build something useful.”
Recently more than ever, people are leaving the Church in record numbers, and although they are not rejecting Jesus and the ministry He did, they are tenaciously saying no to the faith that carries His name. You see, people are not rejecting Jesus, but are rejecting His followers. In fact, many atheists, non-believers and people of other faiths find Jesus admirable, worthy of respect, and full of compassion.
What then does that say about us? Today we are in dire need of authentic Christ Followers. We, Christianity, are in need of people that are willing to live beyond the status quo, willing to act with compassion the way Jesus did, willing to show love rather than hate, willing to feed the hungry, willing to visit the sick, willing to advocate for the helpless and willing to lend a hand. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.” As Christians we ought to be doers. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s time for us, Christians to let the world know how much we care. As patients in the hospital, let us encourage one another in our daily walk with God and express the change we want to see in the world. This is true Christianity.
by Pastor Jessie A. López