Summary: What will it take to reverse some of the damage we have done to ourselves and the church’s image? I believe it will take Christians really living like Christians.
You know, it’s startling today to realize exactly how people look at Christianity. To much of the world Christians are just a nuisance. We are just a bunch of crazy fanatics who try to impose innumerable rules upon everyone else. We’re just a bunch of do-gooders who always find ways to condemn those that don’t believe like us. We’re just a bunch of bigots who are always against something. We’re just a bunch of stupid idiots who follow crooked hypocritical preachers out to get rich off of everyone else. We are always fighting with someone. We’re never allowed to have any fun. And we’re always trying to shove this God stuff down people’s throats. It’s amazing sometimes how people view Christians. And to be honest, it’s alarming as well.
How did we get to this place of being so low on the totem pole? How did we get to this spot of being the brunt of so many jokes? How did we become so intolerable? We could blame it on the fact that American culture has gone to pot. We could blame it on Hollywood for being so hateful towards Christianity. We could blame it on politicians who pass laws against the Ten Commandments and the Pledge of Allegiance. There are all sorts of reasons that we could probably come up with to explain why Christianity seems to be so unpopular.
But I would tend to believe that in our efforts to understand why we are so un-liked by the rest of society maybe we need to step back and take a good look at ourselves. Yes, American culture does have its faults. Yes, Hollywood has been pretty spiteful. Yes, it is sad how the laws seem to be going in favor of ridding our nation of its Christian heritage. But are those things at fault? Let me pose a question to you. What if Christians are at fault for the way people view us? What if we, really, are the ones to blame for the way people perceive us? What if we have been the ones to make Christianity unattractive?
This evening, while I realize that Paul told Timothy that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;” and while I know that John said, “Marvel not when the world hates you,” I would think that maybe we have brought upon ourselves some of this loathing from the world. Yes, I know people will hate us because of what we stand for; I know that people tend to rebel against the idea that there is only one God and one Way to get to heaven. I know those things. But I also believe we (and by we, I mean the church in general); I believe we have been guilty of being a nuisance at times. We probably have been guilty of trying to impose countless rules upon people. Maybe we are guilty of condemning too often. Maybe we are too often against so many things and never for anything. Maybe we have made Christianity unpopular and unattractive. If that is truly the case, then what is it that will alter the world’s opinion of the church? What will it take to reverse some of the damage we have done to ourselves and the church’s image? I believe it will take Christians really living like Christians. Because I believe that there should be something attractive about true Christians. And tonight I want to share with you what I believe attractive Christians are like.
I. Attractive Christians Are Changed
I believe, first of all, that attractive Christians are changed people. In Mark 2 we find a story about a day when Jesus was at a house in Capernaum. While he was there preaching to a crowd that was all over that house, four men were doing their best to get their sick friend in contact with this miracle worker. Their friend was stricken with palsy; he was paralyzed. And there was no way for them to get to Jesus through the doors of that house, so they climbed up onto the roof and ripped a hole in it over the spot where Jesus was speaking.
No doubt, this was very disruptive. No doubt, the owner of the house was probably getting a little worried. Those who had gotten up early to get front row seats that day were probably frustrated at these guys for ruining the service. The Pharisees, who knows what they were thinking? Maybe they were disgusted by the rudeness of these guys. On the other hand, maybe they were delighted that Jesus’ opportunity to speak was being disrupted. Who knows? But these men didn’t care what anyone thought. They were getting their friend to the great Healer. So they worked until they got a hole big enough to fit their friend’s bed through, then they lowered him down right in front of Jesus. And Jesus was touched by their faith. They had gone to extreme measures so they could get this man to Jesus. They knew He could help him. They knew He had the power to heal.