October 27, 2015

Why Are So Many Christians Jerks?

Yes, the title stings and so it should. Christians are not perfect and some can often be intolerable to be around. I would include myself in the latter group at times as I am still a work in progress. But this particular stigma seems to haunt Christians disproportionately and most times...unfairly. So I would like to look at the those that often are the problem children of the Faith. The Christian brethren that most would agree give Christianity a black-eye. So yes, Christians being jerks is a Biblical principle. God thought enough about it to actually have Paul the Apostle write how-to manuals on how to diagnose the condition and deal with it. The two main diagnostic and treatment manuals were called First and Second Corinthians. 

Being a jerk. It happens today and it happened in the Bible. There was a reason letters and epistles were written to people that ended up in the Bible. Letters/Epistles were written to problem churches and people with problems or encountering problems. If folks weren’t having problems there wouldn’t have been need to write to them, would there?

So why is it that Christians are often the source of the problem rather than the remedy to it? I have to tell you that I often find non-Christian acquaintances easier to get on with than my fellow-believers. Why is it that so often the non-Christians seem nicer, more hard-working and even more honest than the Christians?

I admit that this fact/truth really does hurt. I could just blame this on the fact that some people were idiots before becoming Christian and all they did was bring some of their idiocy and boneheaded behavior over into the Faith but that would be too easy an escape hatch for this post. Even though it is true that some people can come into the faith and bring their atrocious habits with them as the letter to the Corinthians attests to, it is not getting at the core of the issue that Paul labors in depth to get explain to the Corinthian church throughout his letters to them (5 in all, 2 as canonized Scripture). No, there is much more going on here then just stubborn foolish people.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he was painfully aware that a person can still be Christian and manifest virtually no signs of it on the outside. They had shown spiritual abilities and manifest spiritual gifts but they had been severely divided among themselves. They had become harshly judgmental and frankly, they had become what many would consider...jerks (also hypocritical and Pharisaical). They had become complacent and conceited to the point of allowing sexual immorality into the church that even the pagan culture deemed inappropriate. They were failing on nearly all fronts: In their marriages, handling of money, legal issues – and even the practice of the Lord's Supper.

Paul was clear that he could not address them as spiritual, but as worldly. They were so much of the world and in the world that had he addressed them in a spiritual manner, it would’ve been lost on them and flew directly over their heads. 

Therein lies the problem. 

This is what gets at the heart of why some Christians can be such insufferable idiots and still be Christian. It is in this very dichotomy that we see how some who are actually Christian can bring such disrepute to the larger body of the Church. The Corinthians were supposed to have been followers and emulators of the purest Person who ever lived and many understood that fact, yet they “...acted like mere men”. 

They were not rising above the fleshly weaknesses of their very human sinful nature imputed to them by the first Adam. First and Second Corinthians patently demonstrates what an unpleasant bunch of people Christians can be when we have only marginally begun to experience the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. In our sin and our flesh we force out the work of the Spirit of God and allow the spirit of the world to rule our lives. We therefore become children of the Devil and tools for the spirit of this age even though we are saved. We learn here that a person can know Christ and still live in the spirit of the world which is sin.

Think about it for a second. There had to have been some in the Corinthian church that had been idolaters, adulterers,  homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, revilers and swindlers, etc. Why else would Paul have written down these specific sins unless word had either reached him that these types were in the church…or he had seen them for himself? Paul clarifies that, “…such were some of you.” They were expected to have changed if they were actually indwelt by the Spirit and still in the Church. So if these things are not working themselves out of the church then the Spirit is not being allowed into the hearts of people in the church as in the case of Corinth. 

I am sure there were many churches in Asia Minor that did not need Paul to write letters and epistles to them and they are the churches that were not having these particular problems as bad as Corinth. Corinthians were literally the pariahs of the ancient world inside and outside of the church. 

What we see in Corinth which had a lot of Christian "jerks" is an immature church. They were not necessarily a young church, just an immature one. We see it then and we see it now both in churches and individuals. A church and people that has not moved beyond the basics. Why? Most likely because they stayed firmly attached to the ways of the world instead of the ways of God's divine Word in Scripture. People and churches that remain of the world remain immature. They had chosen to remain the jerks they were before coming into the faith instead of taking on the new man that Christ offered them in the Gospel and becoming new creations...changed men and women. There is no way a true Christian of the faith can remain a jerk in perpetuity when indwelt by the Spirit of God. More Spirit, less world equals righteousness of Christ.

What we see in churches that were not written of in the Bible (but we should assume existed) is a more mature church that had gotten over some of the hiccups of an immature church. This comes from sound teaching from Scripture from Godly men. In both cases (immature and mature) we see a “work in progress”. It becomes an issue then of sanctification. 

Sanctification is part of the healthy normal process of being a Christian and a Church’s or individual's growth. There will always be grumblers and the trouble-makers in a Church just as there are all different levels of maturity and growth…in a "normal" sinful family. As a matter of fact, no church can possibly be completely pure. No church can ever assume it has no areas for needed growth. The long and short of it? There will always be Corinthians among the brethren. There will always be Christians that are jerks. It is an issue of maturity in the Faith which in reality is an issue of sanctification of the individual and growth in Christ.

Same goes for issues like Christian hypocrites. Most often hypocritical Christians are immature Christians. They are Christians trying to live up to, or have us live up to a standard of works that are not achievable even for themselves. Firstly, any Christian that is a believer in grace and works is an immature one that does not understand what method man is truly saved from his sin. Man is saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8). 

When Christians hold others to a certain level of works or a need to attain something, they are going outside what is being asked for by Scripture. This is Biblical illiteracy, this is also Biblical immaturity. This hypocrisy becomes exceptionally obvious when the standard is only a one-way street away from the one casting unfair judgment. It is where a "self-described" Christian expects things of others but does not have enough insight and tact to see they themselves lack in the same areas. 

This makes all Christians look like jerks.

Conversely, we also must understand that churches like families are always untidy and a little rough around the edges. We need to realize that while you walk this earth and breath, there is always room for improvement. To assume that everyone in a church is perfect or should be actually demeans Christ because it assumes a person can be perfect before being glorified in Christ and that is just not possible in this life even in the best church. 

No...churches are disciple making facilities, not perfect Christ making facilities. Additionally, we must never forget that by judging others as jerks or idiot Christians, we too will be measured against the standard of Christ and none of us can measure up to that standard either. It is better to have grace in those situations and instead of passing harsh judgment. We need to get  alongside of them and help those people along in the correct direction as Paul did. 

So in short, the reason some Christians can be such jerks is because they themselves don't have enough Christ in them. They have not read and understood Scriptures properly. Because of this their growth as been stunted or halted completely. As such, they are not as Christian as they should be or could be. They then appear to the world and others in the church...as jerkish. This is due to their immature un-Christlike behaviors.


HopetoChange said...

Thanks for the article. It has made me realize I am a Christian jerk. I started the changing process by allowing God to change me, then I stopped and went back to my old habits and ways disappointing God all the while because I was turning away from Him. I started reading 1st and 2nd Corinthians and you have given me another insight to the reading that I didn't realize. Thanks so much.

Andy Pierson said...

It helped me to see Corinthians this way. I am glad it has also helped you in your walk with the Lord. :)

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