UnChristian. Hypocrites. Old-fashioned. Judgmental.
These are just a few of the labels that Christians are given by unbelievers. The labels seem harsh to Christians, and we tend to respond to them with a quick rebuttal of “They don’t really know Christians then!” However, it should make us question why we have such a bad rap with the unbelieving community.
These thoughts arose because of a book that I am reading currently called “UnChristian” by David Kinnaman. It is a good read, especially because it is filled with research from the Barna Group, an organization of Christian researchers. The Barna Group has done extensive research of Christianity from the eyes of non-believers of Christianity. They have been able to see what keeps people from the church and taints the religion of Christianity for them.
The main complaint of non-believers is that Christianity is unchristian. Ghandi is quoted for saying, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
But how exactly are we different than Christ?
We have all heard the claims that Christians are judgmental and hypocritical. There are things that push non-believers away from Christianity that we might not be aware of.
This past week, California Baptist University had the privilege of having Ralph Winter speak on our campus for chapel and for a special lecture. He is a Christian producer in Hollywood who spoke to the problem that Christians have — poor storytelling.
While this may not seem to be a big issue, it is a great departure from the author of our faith, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was an amazing storyteller. On many mountaintops and in many cities, Jesus Christ reached masses by his stories and parables. Not only were his stories captivating, but they were current with the times that he lived in. He spoke of a shepherd who lost one of his 99 sheep, how the shepherd dropped everything to find that one sheep and how he rejoiced when he found the one, lost sheep. This story was relatable to listeners because they were people who made their living raising sheep and working with livestock.
I think many non-believers see Christians as out of touch with the times. We are to be in the world, but not of it. Therefore, we must be aware of the times if we are going to reach out to those who are in the world. We must be able to speak to non-Christians in a manner that relates to the times today, not only the people of Israel thousands of years ago. We must produce media like music, movies and art that relates to the times today and inspires others toward Christ.
Students at California Baptist University have a great opportunity in Southern California. There are many non-believers in the area who are waiting to be reached. This also means that we have a great responsibility at CBU to reach out to non-believers. But to do this, we must not be unchristian. We must be Christ-followers and Christ-imitators. We must be like our Jesus.