Updated: Nov 6, 2021
Now before anyone starts bashing me for being unreasonable, hyperbolic, or sensational, let me offer six qualifications for my blog title.
Admittedly, the nastiest person I ever met was not a Christian, and he was quite a vile individual. But my title is nonetheless accurate based upon my life experiences to date. I have met countless scalawags who claim Christ as Lord. And this is unfortunate, given our call to be patient, kind, gracious, and loving toward one another (1 Cor. 13, Gal. 6, Eph. 4).
I'm not a coddled or isolated person. I've met some pretty nasty individuals over the years. As a former police officer, public school teacher, and veteran of our nation's most recent war-fighting campaigns, I have come face-to-face with some altogether unpleasant people.
As a pastor, I often see Christians at their worst. Church politics, controlling personalities and families, and unreasonable expectations are unfortunate realities in the Body of Christ.
I was a faculty member and administrator at Liberty University during the "reign" of the infamous Jerry Falwell, Jr. Poor leadership and unethical/immoral activity were rife under Falwell. I personally stood up to university administrators during this very dark time and was ostracized because of it. Ultimately, I had to resign from my position as college dean because I could not stomach the absolutely unscrupulous and unconscionable actions of university leadership. I proceeded to launch a three-year campaign in the media against Falwell and the university. This garnered criticism and even derision from many evangelical Christians who were enamored by the glitz and glamour of Liberty University. Fortunately, I was vindicated when Falwell was exposed as a philanderer, cuckold, and financial misdealer.
I can be nasty myself! I am admittedly a sinner, and sometimes I act in ways antithetical to the teachings of Christ.
Some of the best people I've ever met are Christians as well.
Notwithstanding these qualifications, however, I am amazed at how brutal the people of God can be. On countless occasions, fellow proclaimers of Christ have stabbed me in the back (in all of its forms and manifestations), swindled money from me, falsely accused me of wrongdoing, abandoned me in my time of need, displayed extreme rudeness and arrogance toward me and others, openly lied in an attempt to hoodwink me, or used flattery as a means of manipulation. Most recently, a former colleague of mine decided to revise a book that he and I and four other authors wrote some years ago, and in an overt demonstration of greed, he attempted to cut the other five of us out of the new deal. The only thing that stopped him were legal restrictions built into the original book contract. And this is a "gentleman" who pastors a church in the Washington, DC, area!
As I was commiserating with my wife the other night over the unfortunate actions of my colleague, it occurred to me that most of my conflicts over the past 15 years have been with Christians. Rarely do I find myself at odds with an unbeliever. The reasons for this are not only beyond the scope of this article, but I also haven't completely resolved them in my mind! How can God's people--who are indwelled by the Spirit of God--be so malicious and mean-spirited? Ultimately, the answer is sin. But the spiritual-psychological nuances of this problem are undoubtedly much more complex and knotted than such a simple diagnosis can capture. That is to say, the "science" of hamartiology on this matter demands experimentation that I've neither conducted nor have the present time to conduct. Nevertheless, I remain intrigued by it all!
So, why am I writing this blog? Is it simply to vent frustration? Is it because I'm bitter, and I crave sympathy? Am I just a complainer? The answer to each of these questions is, "No." The reason I'm writing this blog is to challenge Christians (including myself) to do better...to stop falling prey to the temptations of pride, selfishness, anger, deceit, greed, and lust and to start living out the will of God. We need to prune the rotten fruit in our lives and begin cultivating the sweet fruit of the Spirit. I am tired of fighting with, distrusting, and avoiding other Christians, and I hope you are as well. So, let's change the pattern! Let's turn nasty to nicety, pride to purity, greed to grace, and deceit to decency. Let's become the salt of the earth and the light of the world...and let's do it today!