Summary: Too often Christian have suffered from this syndrome. They've been rough, rude, disrespectful of others. How can we avoid that
OPEN: Back in 1963 there was a movie starring Marlon Brando called “The Ugly American”. It was a fictional story, but it dealt with the very real perception of Americans overseas. We were seen by many as “Ugly Americans”. As I researched this sermon I read more than one source that said that many of the people in other countries have viewed American tourists and American businesspeople as being loud, arrogant, demanding, thoughtless, ignorant, and intolerant of people who weren’t like them.
Now had that been true? Have there actually been ugly Americans?
Unfortunately, yes there have been. Too often many Americans who traveled and lived overseas behaved badly, and enough Americans acted this way that the rest of our nation became smeared by association.
And it’s easy to understand why these ugly Americans got ugly.
They thought of themselves as a privileged people.
They saw themselves as members of one of the most powerful nations on earth.
They saw themselves as part of a country that had gotten it RIGHT militarily, industrially/and culturally.
In short saw themselves as the best people on earth. They had it “all together and everybody else came in 2nd. Thus, they felt they deserved to act like “ugly” Americans.
APPLY: In our passage this morning God warns us against being Ugly American kind of Christians.
Have you ever known an “ugly” Christian?
Have you ever known a believer who was arrogant, demanding, thoughtless and intolerant?
Yeah… me too
Unfortunately, I haven’t had to look far to find an “Ugly Christian”?
All I’ve had to do was look in the mirror.
I’ve been an ugly Christian more times than I’d like to admit.
ILLUS: Rubel Shelly told of an incident surrounding the death of a man named Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens had been militant atheist who died a couple of years ago of cancer. And you might have referred to him as an “ugly atheist.” He hated Christianity and often used demeaning and insulting language with believers. He engaged in many debates a number of Christian apologists, and he wrote a book called "God Is Not Great" which was a best-seller a few years back.
Then Hitchens developed throat cancer.
Shelly said that he happened to follow some of the online comments made by Church goers about it online. He said there were a wide range of responses.
Several were from believers expressing concern.
Some offered hope for his recovery.
And some said they were praying for him.
But then, there were also comments like these:
• "How apropos, losing the throat with which he used to blaspheme"
• "This foul reprobate in the end, knowing he shall die, will beg for forgiveness";
• And "I can't wait until the last little breath in his miserable body starts to fade, and then he will know if there is a God or not."
And Shelly wrote: “Others were even worse!”
There are times when Christians can get ugly. They think they’re doing God favors… but they’re not. Notice what Peter writes after he tells Christians how they should behave in this world. He says our behavior should be such “that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” I Peter 4:11b
Christians will receive no praise for being petty.
God didn’t save us to pass judgment even on the worst of sinners.
That’s God’s job… not ours. God saved us to be His missionaries to folks like Hitchens.
Hitchens was a miserable, hate filled guy who made the choice to reject God and despise believers. In fact, he was not really much of a nice guy to a lot other people who weren’t believers that he disagreed with.
In the end … well, that’s not going to turn out real well for him.
And that should NOT make us happy!
God does not need or want any “Ugly American” kind of Christians.
But He does tell us what He does want. He wants us to be
• clear-minded and self-controlled so that (we) can pray.
• To love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
• To offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
• To use whatever gift (we’ve) received to serve others
• When we speak we should do so “as one speaking the very words of God.
• When we serve we “should do it with the strength God provides”
In other words, God wants us to be “good boys and girls!” He wants us to be pleasant to be around. He wants us to be… nice. And in order for us to be those kinds of nice people, God wants us to focus on the right things. So what does God want us to focus on?