Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t want to be Christians because they see how Christians live. They see people who go to church every Sunday and live no differently than anyone else every other day of the week. They argue that divorce rates are higher in the church. People in the church can come across as judgmental to them, and they see Christians lie, cheat, smoke, steal, fight, and drink as much or more than people who are not religious at all. Christians can be selfish and arrogant, and we often have too many rules that we don’t even follow. Why would someone want to follow a religion like that?
It’s true that you can find all sorts of problems in the church, but Christianity is not about following other Christians; it is about following Jesus. If you look at the life and teachings of Jesus, you will find that he taught not to lie, steal, and cheat. He preached love, peace, and generosity. He not only taught those things, but He modeled them through His actions. He healed the sick and hung out with people whom the rest of society rejected. He was humble and loved those who were deemed unlovable. The outcasts of society were the people Jesus wanted to befriend. He suffered so we wouldn’t have to suffer for our mistakes.
If you follow other Christians, you will constantly be let down. Christians are full of flaws, and we often fail at following Jesus. There are also people who use the teachings of Christianity to justify evil actions. They bend and twist what Scripture says so that they can justify their actions because they won’t feel as guilty if they say they are following the Bible. Then, there are people who go to church every week out of obligation, but they aren’t truly trying to follow Jesus.And sometimes, Christians just get it wrong. We want to follow God, but we make mistakes or misunderstand what God teaches. You will find all of these people in the church. Matthew 13:3-8 gives a parable that describes the different people you will find in church and how they react to Scripture or “seed”:
“…A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
The church also has a way of coming up with its own rules that aren’t even found in Scripture. Some churches will teach that it is wrong to drink or that dancing is a sin. While there are verses that say we should not get drunk, you can also find verses that encourage drinking on occasion (I Tim. 5:23, John 2:1-12). There are also plenty of verses where people who are following God are dancing (Eccl. 3:4, Ps. 30:11, Ps. 149:3). The Christians who argue that things like drinking and dancing are wrong may have good intentions, and some people may need to avoid certain actions and environments for their own well-being. However, some people would argue that when those rules are imposed on others, they are like the rules the religious leaders in Jesus’ time would come up with to make themselves feel superior to people who did not follow them. Jesus called those leaders out on how they were judging other people (Matt. 23:1-36). While there is debate about how people should act, Jesus teaches His followers not to judge those who do not obey all of the rules, yet Christians often will also come across as judgmental.
The point of Christianity is not to follow how other Christians act; it is to follow Jesus. Christians will always let you down, but Jesus never will. Christians will say they believe one thing and do the opposite, but Jesus never did. There are plenty of Christians who can tell you stories of how Jesus changed them and how He provided for them when they were in an impossible situation. Those same people can also tell you plenty of stories of how they have failed. They would tell you not to follow them and their mistakes but to follow what Jesus both said and did.