As Christians we are supposed to spread the gospel, not point out the sins and errors of others. What is the gospel? It is the good news, the hope for a better life, the positive things that make others want to become Christians. No, we aren’t selling anything, but Yes, we are promoting a better way of life. We aren’t selling religion or promulgating a false utopia. We are sharing what it means to live in perfect love and perfect peace, a way of life that transcends a life without Christ and the Holy Spirit. Life in Christ is a better life, when submitted to the Holy Spirit, it brings about peace and love. We cannot attain it through religion or any achievement that we do. It is a free gift given to us by God. Religion should not be our identity. Our identity should come from Christ. When someone asks if we are Christians, our answer should not be we are this or that brand of religion, because that is not Christ-centered. If that comes first, we’re putting more emphasis on the religion than on our walk with Jesus, because religion doesn’t have the ability to transform, but the Holy Spirit does.
I’m not against religion, don’t get me wrong, but I am against putting religion before God. I’m also against bashing religions and those who constantly point to religions that aren’t of their choosing. I think we can learn from many different religions, but we must have a personal relationship with Jesus. When we do, then we are true Christians, not just a CINO (Christian in name only). True Christianity is led by the Spirit. When we study the scriptures, the Spirit reveals to us the deeper meanings of the word. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 & 1 John 2:6 To me it is better to live as a true Christian, than as those who are masquerading as ones. We are to live a life that points others to Jesus Christ, but when we point our fingers to the faux Christians and heretics, we are only bringing attention to the problems in religion, not Christianity. For me to serve Christ is to be able to impact the souls of the world, for me to follow religion and the traditions of man, is to lose my own soul, because Christ is not first. To follow any religion, no matter its creed, its leader, its origin, I’m not following the only example that is pure, which is Jesus Christ. Sure, Jesus scolded the Pharisees for profiting from following religion and the traditions of man in Matthew 15:1-9, but he did it when he was face to face with them, not in a message to the masses.
I would imagine if Jesus constantly spoke on the problems in the churches of his day, he never would have had the time to preach the gospel. He couldn’t have reminded them of the prophecies that showed he was the Messiah, even though many rejected that. Those reminders did give them a sign after he was resurrected. He wouldn’t have had time to heal the sick. He never would have been able to be the loving example we have to follow today. There are plenty of wrong things happening to point out in religion and plenty of sins done by parishioners in Jesus’ time and today. If all he was doing was pointing to this heretic or that sinner, how would we know to be saved? How would we learn to love each other? How would we have an example to follow?
I choose to spend my life sharing the example of Christ, by being the best example I can be of him and sharing his love. Sure, I fall short, because I’m not him. I’m not neglecting that there is sin and evil in this world, but I’m loving those who are in the churches of heretical teachings, those who are sinners, because that is what Jesus did. The Holy Spirit is there to convict and to bring others to repentance. Jesus gave us a new commandment, to Love others as he loved us, in John 13:34-35. Loving others, to me is the crux of the gospel. I believe, if we don’t, we’ve missed it. Jesus said, that the world will know we are his followers by our ability to love those who are enemies and those who persecute us in Matthew 5:43-45. When we point out the fallacies of other religions, we point at their sin — Jesus didn’t point at their sin, except in instances of one on one, but he did say “Repent & Follow me.” ‘Put the world behind and follow me.’
If I choose to attack what others are doing wrong or what’s wrong in their religion, then I am alienating them by trashing what they identify with, and I look like another pseudo Christian. But if I love them, I win them over and then I may be able to show them individually how to repent if the Spirit gives me the opportunity. There is an abundance of humility that comes with living a spirit filled life, it is the meekness spoken of in the Bible, meekness is not weakness, it is restrained strength and humility. It is being able to know when to speak and only speaking in those circumstances. It is a controlled strength, having knowledge and using it wisely. The mass trashing of a group that I’ll never meet personally is not only not meekness, it has no effect, because spreading hate towards others and their religion doesn’t win anyone over. It only paints me as an angry person, whether I am or not, I come across as having righteous indignation. But seeing the wrong in another religion and keeping my mouth shut until a person in that group asks my opinion or personally comes to me with a question, is using restraint and meekness. Then I am acting as an example of Christ. I choose to follow Christ in love, instead of alienating all my religious friends by pointing out that their leaders or teachers are in error. Instead, we should just love them and share what Christ means to us. If our lives show that we have peace, instead of constant fraction against one entity or another; then we have something they might desire in their lives also. You see, I feel when we attack a group that we don’t have direct contact to effect, we alienate anyone affiliated with that group. And when we alienate, we lose our audience, but when we love, we have mass appeal. The beatitudes come into play here. Matthew 5:1-11
The example we have to follow is that when Jesus was speaking to the masses, he preached a general message of “Repent and follow me. Love everyone.” When Jesus had a personal audience, he often had a personal reprimand, but he did so in love. He didn’t call out to the masses what the Sadducees and Pharisees were doing wrong, nor did he call out to the masses what the woman at the well was doing, but in person, he pointed out to each of them their individual sins and gave them the opportunity to repent.
Will we follow his example? Will we learn to be wise or will we have righteous indignation? Whose example are we following? Is it our own, a leader who is every bit as fallible as we are, or are we following the only perfect example in Jesus? Are we trashing religion and thereby making Christianity irrelevant or are we living a Christ centered life and making Christianity more appealing?