Where the Gospel Fails

Source: Google
Source: Google

Christians amuse me sometimes. I’ve seen people try to tell someone that (enter hotly-debated topic here) is wrong and the other person doesn’t buy it. Then they turn to their friends with this shocked look on their face, like, “It’s as though what God says isn’t important to them!”

I just want to shake them sometimes and say very clearly, “People who aren’t Christians don’t do what the Bible says to do!” Here’s an illustration from my own life (see, I can make fun of people if I do the same thing. It’s not hypocrisy if it’s funny).

My friend and I were arguing about open marriages–she for it and I against it. We’d gone on for many minutes about the definitions of love and marriage and so forth. But quite suddenly, I realized that every reason I had against open marriage stemmed from my belief in God. What God said, I followed. But my friend did not hold such a belief in God. The fact that God said it was not enough to convince her.

I mentioned last week how the point of all that is right or wrong is because it is in line with or against God. Worldly logic is not enough, and even if it convinces somebody, we miss the point: God.

I learned that evening that if you want someone to do what God says to do, you need to get them to like God first. 

I pointed out the obvious already, but I’ll say it again: non-Christians don’t try to follow God.

Source: Google

So, how do you get a non-Christian to do Christian things without lying, cheating, or hypnotism? Get them to follow God. How do you get a non-Christian to follow God? Well, I’ve already ruled out hypnotism…

Ain’t that the question of the ages, though? There’s no one straight answer because everyone has a different reason for not following God: already into another religion, no evidence of God, don’t trust a 1,000+ year-old book, hypocritical Christians, allergic to bad movies, et cetera.

However, there’s one common thread I’ve found among non-Christians is a general dislike for God. A lot of atheists think God is mean. That my sound like a contradiction (and admittedly makes me giggle like a 6-year-old teaching his friend a bad word), but even many of those who simply do not believe in God can’t even stand the thought of God being real. Why? Again, God it depends on who you’re talking to. Gay supporters think God is too narrow-minded. Pro-choicers think God is sexist. Victims of child abuse, rape, and assault think that God just stood by and let it happen. Those who have been beaten upside the head by Bibles too many times think God is nothing but a 24/hour guilt trip. There are billions of people with billions of reasons why the thought of God makes their skin crawl.

It’s a hard battle to fight. Often times, our beliefs are tied to years of experiences, so undoing a belief can be practically impossible to undo. Even then, it’s really not up to us, but the Holy Spirit. All we can do is try and show people who God really is through our own lives. 

If the homosexual only hears “Abomination” from Christians, why should he think God is loves him no matter what?

If the pro-choice woman only hears “Murderer” from Christians, why shouldn’t she think God is sexist?

If all the Christian says to the abuse victim is “God has a plan,” why shouldn’t they think he’s a sadist?

My pastor called it being “God with skin on him.” God is everywhere, yes, but he’s primarily working through his people, the Christians. They’re the ones responsible for showing God’s love (and therefore who he is).

Back to the argument I had with my friend. I realized that I was never going to make any headway if I didn’t cause her to like God first. I also knew that relentlessly saying “you’re wrong” over and over again was not how Jesus worked. So I decided to let the matter drop, and even apologized for going about it the wrong way. She said she appreciated that and I was able to maintain a friendship.

This is my horn. Toot-toot!
This is my horn. Toot-toot!

Yeah, this story doesn’t have some Sunday-morning-miracle ending. She’s still a blatant atheist, pretty much on a mission to do the exact opposite of what God says. Gay rights activist, vehemently pro-choice, I-do-what-I-want-with-my-body, this-season-celebrate-reason, every meme, joke, and jab you can think of, she’s probably put it on Facebook. And honestly, I find it hard to blame her, considering she’s probably still bleeding from being pimp-smacked with a Bible for so long.

And yet, we’re still friends.

Funny what happens when you simply act like Jesus instead of expecting everybody else to.


15 thoughts on “Where the Gospel Fails

  1. Absolutely, we as Christians are not called to get people to behave more in line with godly principles. We are called to lead people to a relationship with God, the change in behavior follows.


  2. I also think that we go about persuading others– about anything– in the wrong way. How many times has someone said, in response to our latest and brightest riposte, “Oh wow, thank you so much for showing me the error of my ways!”?
    Also, there comes a time when our arguments will fail. We won’t even have an answer to give. That’s why I advocate question-asking 😉 If you ask them the questions, they’re the ones who, when faced with it, won’t have an answer. Then they’ll think. Even if nothing else, you’ll put a stone in their shoe (hypothetically speaking of course…).
    I’ve seen this work. Conversational Evangelism.
    Just a thought.


    1. It’s one of the simplest ways we keep forgetting. Yeah, I drive by bumper stickers and billboards every day that are aimed to either convert or look smug and they only accomplish one of them.


  3. I’ve got to tell you, right after I finished reading this I kept pointing at my laptop and saying “THIS!” over and over again. It was a pretty ridiculous sight, I’m sure, but this is just too true. I’ve had a few atheists tell me that one of their biggest reasons for hating Christianity is the fact (and I agree that it’s a fact) that a lot of the biggest hypocrites are Christians. What’s interesting too is they made it clear to me that it was my belief they hated, not me. And I really did believe them because they never treated me with disrespect. I can’t help but feel like that’s what a lot of Christians fail at – being able and willing to respect a person regardless of their faith or lack thereof, or their sexual orientation or political views or anything else.


  4. This is a good reminder for us to (pardon my cliche) be known more by what we stand FOR instead of against.

    Now, I love Christians and don’t want to turn this comment into a Christian-bashing fest, but it is a shame that we speak so loudly of our opinions when they disagree with others, instead of speaking loudly about Christ’s love and grace and forgiveness…

    PS. Your writing reminds me of Jon Acuff – a hero of mine. Keep it up! Let’s stay in touch!


    1. You just made my freaking day.
      I just started reading Jon Acuff’s book Stuff Christians like and I was like “I wish I was this cool.” Thanks for the day-brightener!!


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