I am a Christian; I unashamedly accept Christ as Lord and Savior. More than anything else, I want to see as many people as possible make the same proclamation of faith. I take the Great Commission seriously and want to engage my culture with the timeless, grace-filled, loving Gospel message. And I'm not alone! Many of my fellow Christ-followers have the same passion. But...
There is an arrogance afoot in the church. Because we know the Truth, we sometimes revel in it. We all-to-often obnoxiously flout our knowledge of Christ in a manner that...well...doesn't look much like Christ. Consequently, those who don't know the Truth end up rejecting it. Then, in our rampant hubris, instead of taking responsibility for our message delivery and toning things down a bit, we erroneously apply passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Peter 2:7-8, and Galatians 5:11 and respond, "Well, there is an offense to the gospel. It's not me; it's the Bible that is making them angry." And we go on our merry way, continuing our frontal assault on basic human respect...all in the name of Jesus.
I have a Facebook friend whom I was introduced to a couple of years ago by another friend. Both of these men are Christians, both have advanced academic degrees in their fields of endeavor, both know a great deal about the Bible, both are quite articulate when they present their views on theology, and both are...let me see if I can say this eloquently...jerks. I know that sounds harsh. Maybe I would be wise not to use such stark language, but I don't know how else to describe their behavior. Just yesterday, I read a Facebook posting by one of them that, in typical fashion, airily pitted believers against non-believers by brow-beating the latter with a "kids these days" tone. I have no doubt any would-be, non-believing readers of that post went away offended, unimpressed, and no closer to hearing the Truth of the Gospel than when they logged into Facebook. Heck, I am a Christian, and the first thought I had when I read his post was, "What a jerk!"
At this point, I'm sure at least one of my readers is thinking, "But we cannot sugarcoat the Truth. The Truth IS indeed offensive at times." I agree! However, in my experience, the offense is more often with the messenger than it is the message. Virtually every time I've offended someone in my life, the fault has resided not with what I said, but how I said it. Remember, Scripture tells us in Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (NIV). I've stirred up some anger over the years with my harsh words, as I'm sure you have as well. But on those occasions when I've wrested control of my tongue and offered a gentle word, the response has always been better, and my ability to speak Truth into the lives of others has almost always been maintained. People will often listen to criticism if it is presented respectfully and in a balanced way. Truth presented ungraciously, however, will typically be rejected out of hand.
So, try a gentle word the next time you write a political post or cultural commentary on Facebook, send an email to someone who needs a little guidance, or respond to an error someone has made. You'll likely be heard if you are perceived as respectful, gracious, and Christ-like. Sure, the Truth may ultimately be rejected, but YOU won't be rejected, and, thus, you may get another chance in the future to witness. Point and shake your boney finger at others, however, and you can expect active resistance. Contrary to what some of my fellow believers think, there are no effective "Jerks for Christ."