There are a lot of things that pass as “Christian” but are actually very unbiblical or unChrist like. Below are ten of my top “pet peeves” (not in any particular order) that commonly pass as “Christian” but fail the biblical test when examined more closely. Some may surprise you and even might offend you! But the important thing is not my opinion or yours; but what does the bible really teach? There are more than these ten on my list, but that would be another blog for another time…and this is probably enough to digest in one reading 🙂
- When the Church thinks its purpose in gathering together is evangelism rather than discipleship.
Do not misunderstand what I am and am not saying! I hope and pray more people are convicted of their sin and come to Christ at our church gatherings. However, by its very nature and definition, “church” is the gathering together of those who are already believers; a place where believers proclaim the praises of God (who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light), encourage each other in the faith, and are exhorted in his word as followers of Jesus in regard to how we should now live our lives. While unbelievers may come to our gatherings (they should be welcomed and not excluded), the church assembly should not be geared towards them. Evangelism is not the primary focus when the Church gathers, but rather when the Church scatters. Then, as new believers are being saved, and then baptized, they are added to the Church (Acts 2:40-41). To put it bluntly, “seeker sensitive” churches have it wrong. If we want to hold evangelistic events and gatherings to reach unsaved people, that is wonderful, but we shouldn’t call it a church. While this may produce new believers, it doesn’t produce mature believers. In fact, it often creates an environment of shallowness not wholehearted commitment. Jesus did not call us to simply make converts, but disciples, emphasizing teaching a life of obedience to all he has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
That is not to say that services should be incomprehensible to unbelievers; in fact, too often, Christians are viewed as being unintelligent or merely superstitious. But true Christianity is neither illogical nor superstitious…though at its core it is supernatural. In fact, it is the presence of the Living God in our midst at work, through God’s people, that should lead to conviction in an unbeliever who comes to our gatherings. Paul put it this way: So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues (edifying to the spirit, but unintelligible to the mind), and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’ (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).
- Being “nice” is not a fruit of the Spirit…let alone the mark of a “true Christian.”
Jesus making a whip out of cords and driving the money changers out of the temple, while flipping over tables, was not very “nice” or “Mister Rogers” like. But it was actually truly kind. In fact, Matthew 21:12-14 records that this incident put the fear of God in those abusing God’s house and offended the religious leaders. Yet, it resulted in the blind and lame (those who knew their need for God and were genuine worshippers) coming to him in the temple where he proceeded to heal them. Jesus is not a wimpy figure as he seems to be portrayed by some. He stood up against injustice and “bullies” in order to protect the weak and abused. He called out and confronted religious hypocrites.
Jesus in fact said some very “un-nice” things at times. For example, in Matthew 23 he criticizes many of the religious leaders of his day, calling them names that weren’t very “nice”, such as “hypocrites” “snakes” “brood of vipers” and much more! Doesn’t sound very nice to me, nor did it to them. Many people, in fact, stopped following Jesus, being offended at times by things he said (John 6:35-66) or for not meeting their expectations. Jesus was not a “people pleaser.” Galatians 1:10 warns: Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Also, consider this: you can be “nice” yet really be unkind and unloving. For example, James 2:15-16 says: Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
The Greek word for “kind” does not translate to “nice.” Being kind actually means to “show oneself useful to another.” Kindness is not demonstrated simply or only by being “nice” or even “friendly.” It is shown by specific, sincere, thoughtful actions or speaking what is needed or beneficial for the other, even if it “hurts” or “offends”, as long as it is done out of a heart of genuine love for that person (not just to “tell them off” or “give them a piece of my mind!”) or for the protection or good of others. But let us remember that John 3:18 says: Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
- Christians shouldn’t judge!
First of all, aren’t you judging me for being judgmental by making this statement? Right of the bat it’s a logically defeating argument. We all make judgments everyday. This statement is the most misused, taken out of context verse in all the Bible. It’s the popular slogan of our day, but it’s being applied in an unbiblical way, even in churches among professing believers.
Matthew chapter 7 does begin by saying: Do not judge or you will be judged. Yet, it doesn’t end with that statement. Shallow faith takes soundbites and snippets, removes them from their context, and creates a whole new doctrine which was never intended by the speaker or author.
However, in context, Jesus goes on to explain exactly who he is speaking to and what kind of judging he is condemning. He gives the illustration of looking at the speck in another’s eye while there is a plank in our own. A lot of people like to quote this verse too and go around with false humility saying they don’t judge others because of the “plank in their own.” But Jesus didn’t stop there either. He said to first take the plank out of your own eye, then you can help your brother with the speck in his eye! He was not saying we should turn a blind eye to someone else’s sin, rather we should first make sure our own eyesight is not being blinded by our own, bigger sin! He is warning against hypocritical judging. We ought to be in a position where we can come alongside others and help them with the issues in their life, not walking around with a plank in our eyes that we aren’t removing!
In some circles, being real and being honest is the new measure of spirituality. It may be better than hypocrisy, but it’s no more spiritual if we aren’t overcoming and repenting of sin in our lives! The inability to help others is a mark of a lack of maturity, not the other way around! (This would be my 11th pet peeve!).
Christians are to be discerning. In fact, the very next verse talks about not giving “dogs what is sacred” and not throwing “your pearls to pigs.” Later, in this same chapter, Jesus warns about false prophets and how to discern them. All of this requires the ability to make judgments! The main issue is making right judgments, out of right motivations, for the right purpose. Jesus said in John 7:24: Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.
Actually, we get this backward in other ways as well. In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, the apostle Paul writes: What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you. This verse makes it very clear that we are to exercise judgment where sin is concerned in regard to one another as believers, but not in regard to the world (unbelievers), because God will judge them! Yet, completely opposite of this, we tend to rail against “how bad the world is”, while not being willing to judge the sin in our own lives or the sin within the Church. But it’s the church that is to be the salt of society; not the world. Why do we expect the world, who doesn’t know Christ, to act like Christ, but excuse one another (instead of hold each other accountable) for not living and acting like Christ? Church discipline and purity is not some old legalistic standard. It is biblical and it is sorely lacking in many churches (see 1 Corinthians 5).
- As long as there is one hungry child in America, we shouldn’t be giving money to hungry children in other countries!
I am shocked, appalled and grieved by how often this attitude is expressed in one way or another…even among those within the Church! Usually, (at least in my experience) the people who say such things aren’t even actually doing anything right here in America, but nonetheless, this betrays a lack of vision and God’s heart. John 3:16, perhaps the most well-known verse (second only to: Do not judge lest you be judged!), does not say: For God so loved only America or Americans. And Jesus did not tell his disciples to only serve in Jerusalem. Rather, while they were to start right where they were at, they were to go into all the world (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). If this is our mindset, then our vision is too limited, our heart too small, our burden too little and our passion and compassion severely lacking. I recommend getting outside of your own “bubble” and culture and travel to a different part of the world. Let God open your eyes and heart to the world.
- Christians who only seem to complain about “how bad the world is” and how “our culture is unraveling.”
Didn’t Jesus (and Scripture) say that this would be the case in the last days and to not be surprised or disheartened by it? (Matthew 24, 2 Timothy 3:1-9). We live in a fallen world; why do we expect this to be paradise?
Secondly, complaining about it isn’t going to attract anyone to the beauty and redemption found in Jesus. The world needs the Gospel (Good News), they do not merely need to be told how “bad it is.”
Thirdly, isn’t the Church supposed to be the salt and light of the world? Perhaps we have lost our salt and light to impact, influence and penetrate the darkness; should look inward and then upward to Christ, rather than outward in blame.
- Christians who boycott and picket politically rather than gather together to pray for boldness in sharing the Gospel.
The early Church did not form picket lines and protests when their “rights” were being trampled on. Instead, they gathered together and prayed…and the Holy Spirit filled them and gave them new strength, boldness and courage to keep proclaiming the Gospel! (See Acts chapter 4).
And boycotts? Paul wrote very plainly in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11: I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
Here again I see professing believers doing the exact opposite! We are boycotting people and businesses because of “moral outrage”, yet continuing to fellowship with professing believers who live immoral, greedy and idolatrous lives! What hypocrisy…not to mention that is irrational! As Paul points out in the verse above, if you were to be consistent, you would have to leave this world, because that it is how the world is!
Thirdly, it is fine to exercise the rights we have under the law as citizens; there is biblical precedent for that (Acts 16:37). But when we are more concerned about our “rights” than we are about faithfully sharing the Gospel, our priorities are misplaced. When we are more concerned with our own earthly comfort and security than we are with people’s eternal destinies, our passion is misguided.
- Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values!
While Judeo-Christian values did have an influence…it wasn’t the sole influence. In fact, I would dare to go as far (and be branded a heretic by some) that it wasn’t even the primary influence. There were many different philosophies at play, with the enlightenment philosophy at the core of it. So, while this is partly true, it’s not the whole truth, and therefore this statement is misleading. Our founding fathers have been made out to be saints, but they were far from perfect and not as theologically, doctrinally sound as many in the Church nowadays try to make them out to be (Further study: Was America Founded As a Christian Nation? Or The Faiths of the Founding Fathers).
- Fun, cool, hip, popular Christianity.
I’m so tired of “cool” churches or Christians trying so hard to be popular. Some churches it feels like walking back into middle school and having to compete in a popularity contest where everyone is trying to impress each other or prove how “cool” or “hip” they are.
While churches should be relevant and contextualized to their culture, they shouldn’t think they will ever “be in” with the world or “stars” that the world takes to. In fact, that can be a real sign of compromise, though God can grant favor to people at times in the world’s eyes, for the purpose of influencing people for Christ. But we are not part of this world system anymore and shouldn’t try to be imitators of the world or “fit in.” We don’t fit in anymore. In fact, we are specifically called to not conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds according to God’s Word (Romans 12:1-2). Our lives should be different. We are pilgrims, aliens and strangers in this world by nature of the new birth. So let us celebrate our “transformation” and uniqueness and be longing for our heavenly city—not looking for it here on Earth.
Secondly, Jesus said not to be surprised if the world hates us (John 15:18). In fact, it’s an honor, because it’s evidence that we are truly like him in this world. A promise nobody likes to quote but nevertheless is true, says: In fact everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (1 Timothy 3:12). In addition, we are called to rejoice, not complain, when persecuted for being like Jesus and for following Jesus: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12).
- Pastors (or committee’s) that are expected to do all the work of the ministry.
How convenient. This way we can complain and blame the leaders when we don’t like what they are doing; we can remove ourselves from responsibility and engagement.
I have been in many churches where the mindset and attitude of the people is that they “hired the pastor” to do the work, because their lives are already too busy and stressful. However, the role of leaders in the church is not to do the work of the ministry, but to equip the people to do the work of the ministry, while building up the Body to become mature in Christ! (Ephesians 4:11-16). Christian service is not to be outsourced just to leaders. All members are to participate in the work of the Lord and the building up of the Church according to their gifts (1 Corinthians 14:26-33).
Also, many people in churches couldn’t even tell you what missionaries or mission organizations their own church supports. Some of us just dutifully tithe our ten percent (because we think we are suppose to), but don’t bother to be informed, engaged or even in prayer concerning those on the front-lines, those who are actually out there fulfilling the Great Commission. We just let the mission committee handle it.
- God won’t give you more than you can handle….oh yes he will!
I’ve noticed a few articles recently that point this one out, and rightly so. This often comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
This actually plays into another pet peeve I could mention: Well I just can’t help it, I am a sinner after all! Actually, if you are in Christ, you were once a sinner, but now you are a saint. That doesn’t mean you are perfect or can’t sin, but by very nature you are no longer a slave to sin, but a child of God! We seem to suffer from spiritual amnesia, forgetting who we are and that our true identity is now in Christ! He has made us a new person, by the new birth! And we have the Holy Spirit residing in us to help us overcome all temptation. We are not victims but victors in Christ!
Secondly, when God calls people to do his work, if it is truly of him, it will be more than you can handle in your own strength! Otherwise, it wouldn’t be of God, it would be of you and your own human effort. God wants us operating in his strength, his power and his grace, so that he gets all the glory for the great things he does!