As a pastor, I meet a lot of people who tell me they are Christians. However, there’s a favor I’d like to ask from a few of them…
Would you please stop telling people you’re a Christian?
Here’s why: you’re too judgmental, you’re too negative, you’re always focused on how bad things are and never on how good things can be.
You complain about the government, you complain about morality, you complain about most everything, but talk joyfully about nothing.
You criticize people, judging this group and that group, vomiting righteous indignation all over your Facebook page, your coworkers, your neighbors, and especially other people whom you don’t think measure up.
This doesn’t sound like “the Great Commission” Jesus called us to. Instead, your joyless faux-Gospel is really a “Great Omission”—you’ve deleted all the joy that should be naturally present in the Christian’s life.
Worst of all, you don’t seem to know how to have any fun. You seem to be against everything interesting and are suspicious of anyone having a good time. Sure, I know there are many things in this world we should avoid, but why all the continued focus on them? Why not think on the good things, as Philippians 4:8 commands us?
Maybe all your morality is really “sour grapes.” Are you actually just mad about what you’re missing out on?
Seriously, one of your few joys actually seems to be sucking the life out of every room you enter. People have learned that “they’d better mind their Ps and Qs around you” or you will point out their wrong behavior (though not always to their faces) and put them in their place.
Even when your point is well-taken, your motive and spirit are dead wrong. Jesus never criticized people into God’s Kingdom, he loved them in! The only ones on the receiving end of his anger were the self-righteous rule-checkers—the Pharisees, watching everyone else’s actions like a newly deputized Middle School hallway monitor, the Barney Fifes of the religious world.
Yes, there are some religions that would love the way you act—the ones whose founders really did encourage rabid self-righteousness and merciless judgment on those outside their faith. Perhaps one of those would be a better fit for you. I could make some recommendations if you’d like and try to point you to a compatible “hate group” in a neighborhood near you. Sort of like “Non-Christian Mingle” for angry religious people…
But what you’re preaching, that’s not Jesus. He is the one whose “loving-kindness leads us to repentance,” who “left the 99” to search for the one lost sheep. That Jesus never talked hatefully to sinners the way you do.
But if you do decide to keep professing Christianity, please just keep it to yourself.
Disclaimer: I am far from a perfect example. But some of us are really trying to represent him the best we can. Unfortunately, we keep getting tripped up by the bad taste you leave in everyone’s mouth.
So maybe this Sunday, just stay home…read the paper, watch TV, cut the grass…you know, all those things you criticize non-believers for doing.
Perhaps what you need is a good “time out” in the corner for a while. Maybe once you’ve stopped viewing church as a full-contact competitive sport, you’ll remember the real Jesus you’ve forgotten.
But until then, please get off your soapbox, because no one’s buying what you’re selling anyway. Even sinners know that your “Joyless Jesus” is not the real thing.
What was that you asked? You want to see how my church measures up? Where do we meet on Sundays?
Well, as much as I’d like to give you the wrong directions, I suppose I’d have to let you come. Why? Because they let me come as well.
You see, church was never meant to be the tidy museum for saints as you’ve imagined. It was supposed to be a clinic for messed up people like you…and me.
So if you really want to come, I won’t stop you.
If God would accept a judgmental, self-righteous Pharisee like me, I’m sure there’s room for you too.
Dave Gipson is a husband, father of 4 adopted children and one biological child, former foster parent, and pastor at Naples Family Church of Naples, FL. An author, Dave's new highly acclaimed book, "The Seven Surprises: Everyday Epiphanies on Being a Better Human Being," is now available. He also contributes regular commentaries to the Naples Daily News as well as other international publications. He has served churches for the last 25+ years, from Florida to the inner-city of Chicago. Rev. Gipson holds his ordination in the Southern Baptist denomination, and has two earned Masters degrees in Religion and Divinity. Read more at http://davegipson.net.Follow him on Twitter at @realdavegipson.