Welcome! In this post let’s talk about some of the misconceptions of how Christians are viewed by society — often through a distorted lens.
One of the craziest ironies of our time is this: We are bombarded with so much information that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. It has become way too easy to develop misconceptions about the world we live in.
Most of us realize that the media generally picks stories that jab cultural pressure points — and milks those stories to produce maximum click-bait impact. Just look at social media to see how much misinformation is tossed about as “truth” — and how angry people are getting as they lazily accept it as such. It’s just so much easier to instantly get mad and offended, right?
It has become difficult to understand each other, with people choosing to broadcast stories that represent the most extreme aspects of their “enemies.” Christianity, which really bothers some people, is being skewed as a negative, if not unhealthy, social construct.
“Well, you Christians don’t like this, and you demand that, and you’re so judgmental about this, and you want to force me to do that….” When I hear non-Christians say these things, I sometimes ask what formed their viewpoint. Too often, it’s simply what they heard from the media or another person. Or it’s based on their experience with a single Christian.
In view of that, here’s a short list of misconceptions that some have about Christians — and they’re simply untrue.
1. Christians Disagree About Everything…Right?
Definite misconception! Christians do not disagree about everything.
We agree that Jesus is the Son of God, and died on the cross and resurrected so that we could believe and be saved. We agree that God calls us to love our neighbor. We agree that humankind is inherently sinful without the grace of God, and that God loves us anyway. We agree that truth matters. We agree that the gospel of Jesus is Good News to this world. We agree that the Holy Spirit is with us, and that God has spoken truth to us through His words in Scripture. These core beliefs have carried on through the generations since Christianity first began.
That isn’t to say that things don’t get messy. We are, after all, human. There are plenty of theological disagreements to go around. But at the end of the day, most Christians recognize that the majority of disagreements needn’t divide us. We are still brothers and sisters, unified through Christ. Our unity is accomplished through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 4:3-4). Though we have disagreements, we are a family. That’s not to say there aren’t some strange uncles and wayward cousins.
2. Christians Are Opposed to Science…Right?
Definite misconception! Most Christians highly value the contributions of Science!
There are some Christians who take a strong obscurantist approach toward science, but I have not personally met one. Most of science doesn’t address things that concern faith in Christ. The speed of light, the chemistry of ammonium, the size of our sun, or the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow have little to do with the Gospel message. Yet for some reason, it remains a popular notion that Christians are hostile to science.
Our concerns come into play when science is wielded to defend naturalism, the view that there is nothing supernatural and everything in our universe can be explained by natural causes. Science is just one resource for us to learn about the world.
Christians rarely take issue with the scientific method or the scientific enterprise. If anything, we are concerned with the theological and philosophical interpretations that sometimes originate in the laboratory.
3. Christians Are a Hate Group…Right?
Definite misconception! Committed Christians know hate has no place in their lives!
Talk about propaganda! This lie comes straight from Satan — and society, who loves to showcase specific Christians and church groups that decidedly do NOT represent the Church. Unfortunately, these people are the ones paraded on the headlines and distort we who are. They are a gross generalization of Christianity, not an accurate picture of committed Christ-followers.
I can honestly tell you that I do not know any of these “Christians.” The Christians I know, the ones who sit next to me in the pew of the churches I have been in, truly want to represent the love of Christ.
To be like Jesus, Christians have to wrestle with the question of how to hold truth and love together. We believe certain matters — such as sex, gender, and spirituality — to be true for the best interest of all people. But we believe that God has called us to present His truth in love.
We can’t realistically live in a constant state of feeling offended. But here’s the truth: We really can express disagreement with each other without devaluing each other. This is true even in matters of religion, sexuality, and gender. Our culture has simply forgotten how to extend this civility, which has crippled our ability to have effective conversations about the big issues facing us today. As a nation we’ve become so vested in being self-focused.
4. Christians Don’t Positively Contribute to Society…Right?
Definite misconception! So much of the good being done in the world is being done by Christians!
A great number of philanthropic organizations doing marvelous work around the world are Christian-based, fueled by Christian values, and funded by the generosity of middle-class Christians. Many other organizations are team efforts, with Christians and non-Christians coming together to share a common cause. (See They Were Christians: The Inspiring Faith of Men and Women Who Changed the World by Cristóbal Krusen.)
Modern Christians recognize that Christ calls us to care for His world and His people. We understand that Jesus identifies with the poor and marginalized (Matthew 25:31-46). We recognize the significance of the Gospel message, but we cannot divorce that from God’s heart for the hurting.
5. Christians Don’t Know How to Have Fun…Right?
Definite misconception! Perhaps we need to define “fun?”
We get it. We know we’re portrayed as boring and unhip and old-fashioned because we’re not out there “living it up” every weekend, getting drunk, having casual sex, etc. But that doesn’t make us boring. It means that we’re living to the standard Christ set for us. A standard designed to keep us from making unwise choices and adding a whole lot of unnecessary drama and pain to our lives.
Here’s the thing: before many of us became Christians, many of us did walk that path before someone introduced us to Christ. And our testimony is unanimous: That empty lifestyle didn’t fill us. We were still empty. As crazy as it sounds to non-Christians, God really does change us from the inside out.
Honestly, we’ve found ourselves learning that living for God is way better than living for ourselves. We have discovered that our friendships, marriages, and enjoyment of life have flourished because of our joy in knowing Him. And our privilege of introducing others to God is incredibly satisfying. I’m telling you, nothing is more exciting!
If you want to know what Christianity is really all about, slip into a Bible-based church and listen to some sermons. Read through the numerous, fact-filled blog posts on our site. Read the Bible. And find some committed Christ-followers to engage in conversation. Committed Christ-followers aren’t perfect….we mess up all the time….but our hearts and our eyes are on Jesus, the greatest role model we could possibly follow.
In our next blog post, let’s look even deeper at what it means to be a committed Christ-follower! Can our life have meaningful purpose? You bet!
Catch up: The introductory post to this series.
Want to know what Christians believe? Start here!