Monday, 27 November 2006

What is a non-Christian?

Mythbusters continues at Whitehill. This week the myth to be busted was "Christianity is all about being a good person".

Pretty easily busted I say, the whole faith by works was busted well by Craig (one of the pastors at Whitehill). However part of the service really got me thinking.

Craig grabbed a whiteboard and asked a question for a bit of a congregational brainstorming session.

The first question was "What Is A Christian" - and I must say the points that came forward were good, Craigs point was made when there was nothing about 'being good' that came up as a main point for Christianity.

Here's the list.
  • Forgiven
  • Brought Right with God - Righteous
  • Holy - Set apart for God
  • Servant
  • Community
  • Loves God
  • Citizen of the Kingdom
  • Follower of Jesus
  • Giving Thanks
  • Does stuff wrong
  • Child of God

I think that's pretty good. The recognition that we aren’t perfect, and it’s through God’s forgiveness we are made righteous and brought into his Kingdom.

However the next brainstorm question shocked me with its answers. The question was "What is a non-Christian" and I have to say I'm really dissapointed with the list of answers given here...

  • Doesn't Believe in God
  • Does Bad Stuff
  • Liers
  • Unforgiving
  • Without Hope
  • Murders People
  • Selfish
  • Uses God's Name in Vain
  • Deliberately Sins
  • Also Forgiven

In my oppinion this list plain sucks. The thing that made me a little angry, most of these answers came from the older more mature Christians in our congregation.

Why do I feel like that? Well looking at that list, I could tick off a lot of them that I myself am or have been since I gave my life to Christ, and some of the most forgiving people I know are un-believers, and I know some Christians who are quite unforgiving. I know plenty of people who believe in God, but just haven't realised exactly how that ties into the Gospel, not all non-Christians don't believe in God.

What's the difference between sinning and deliberately sinning? Even so, I know I've sinned when I knew plain and well what I was doing was wrong. Paul himself said the things he knew he should do he didn't and the stuff he knew he shouldn't do, he did.

I look at that list and can see why people these days don't want to come to church, if we have this sort of attitude to people who don't believe in Christ, then how are we going to treat them? We'll be treating them like we know they are bad, but because we are good Christians we'll put up with them so they'll know Jesus and change their ways. I think that outlook alone puts us right in the middle of that list which we wrote out as describing non-Christians.

That list in itself shows that even though we say "Christianity is all about being a good person" is a myth, we have this underlying belief that we are good because we are Christians, and everyone else is bad. We believe we are so high and mighty, even though we say we're not, there is this underlying almost 'secret' belief inside us that we are!

As long as we have that attitude how are we going to effectively share the true Gospel with people who don't know it yet?

So what do I think the answer to those brainstorming questions are? I think out of most of those things there is only one difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, we all lie, we are all selfish, we are all unforgiving at times, but there are times when we all forgive, when we all serve... the one difference is that non-Christians have not accepted the forgiveness God offers through his grace. It's through accepting the gift offered by Jesus taking our sins on the cross that we can slide from under the judgement of God, and be made right with him.

Let's all get real with ourselfs and see we are not that different from the people outside of our church walls, let's actually move outside of those walls long enough to show people we are like them, we don't think we're better than them, we have just accepted an amaing gift, salvation through Christ, and they can have it too, simple as that.


Craig said...

Dean thank you for your comments. It is amazing that from the Christian perspective we put up a list of grace, but from the not yet Christian perspective we put up a list of should not dos. And you are right I too have done and do stuff on that list. Only now I understand that I am under grace, have given my allegiance to Christ and am trying to become less as He becomes more. Why? Because that is what God planned for us to live out from the beginning. And that is our job as followers of Christ to go and teach others about their true context.

I am so excited that this got a raw nerve going in you Dean, it shows that you are being true to the Holy Spirit within you.

Coach said...

Great discussion, I think we'll get it going on Wednesday night actually. It seems to me that a correct response to the question about differences between Christians and those who don't follow Christ, is, as you've said Dean, is that one group has accepted the forgiveness that Jesus offers through his death on the cross, and one hasn't.

Put another way, we're all the same, but one group has realised that they are bad

I felt in a sense that some were saying on Sunday night that Christians are good and non-Christians are bad. This makes me cringe, because it is totally anti-gospel. The good news is that we are all sinners and Christ has died for all. When I accept that forgiveness, it doesn't mean i'm no longer a sinner, i'm just a forgiven sinner.

Jarrol said...

hey hey - 2 pastors replying! thanks a heap guys.

I felt in a sense that some were saying on Sunday night that Christians are good and non-Christians are bad.

Ben I find that real funny that the topic for the night was busting the myth Christianity is All About Being a Good Person.

Maybe we didn't bust the myth enough?

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