From Unchristian to Christian

HuggingKidsSmall[4]I’m reading the last few pages of Unchristian and looking for the author’s conclusions.  OK, so we know that the younger generations have a negative perception of Christians, that they think we are hypocritical, judgmental, antihomosexual, too sheltered, too political, and too focused on making converts.  What do we do about that?  How do we change their perceptions?

Author David Kinnaman writes: “To shift our reputation, Christ followers must learn to respond to people in the way that Jesus did.  In other words, to reverse the problem of unChristian faith we have to see people, addressing their needs and their criticism, just as Jesus did.  We have to be defined by our service and sacrifice, by lives that exude humility and grace” (p. 206).  Kinnaman sums up with four suggestions for changing a new generation’s perception of us: 1) respond with the right perspective, 2) connect with people, 3) be creative, and 4) serve people.  “We have to respond to people in the way that Jesus did,” he says, and concludes by asking, “”What image of Jesus do people get from your life?”

Gabe Lyons, who commissioned the research contained in the book, writes: “It comes down to this: we must become Christlike again.  No strategy, tactics, or clever marketing campaign could ever clear away the smokescreen that surrounds Christianity in today’s culture.  The perception of outsiders will change only when Christians strive to represent the heart of God in every relationship and situation.  This kind of Christian will attract instead of repel.  He is provoked to engage instead of offended by a decadent culture.  She lives with the tension of remaining pure without being isolated from this broken world.  When outsiders begin to have fresh experiences and interactions with this new kind of Christian perceptions will change, one person at a time.  When they have catalogued enough experiences with this kind of Christian to outweigh the negative ones, the reputation will change.  In due time the name Christian will come to represent something refreshing and positive.  One new friendship, a compassionate hug, a kind word, a positive outlook, or a well-meaning affirmation will go a long way in seeing Christ’s reputation revitalized throughout our culture” (pp. 224-226).

What about you?  What do you think it will take to make the move from Unchristian to Christian?  And how soon can we start?

9 thoughts on “From Unchristian to Christian

  1. There is only one answer, and that is that it must begin with each of us who call ourselves Christians. (Hey that was easy to say!) But nothing short of a commitment is necessary…like parachuting from an airplane…NO TURNING BACK. That’s commitment. But it is the “starting” that makes it happen, or the “jumping out” with the unabashed decision to love one another without reservation; no picking and choosing, but from the heart!

  2. Yes and no. A big yes on becoming more Christlike; being His hands and feet to love the unloveable, just as He loves us. But no, not for the purpose for becoming well liked in our culture. Jesus did His father’s will regardless of how popular or well-liked He was. It is true that He is cherished for what He did, but also he was crucified and hated.
    I admit Christians earning the negative perceptions about them. And I hope to work on correcting them for God’s sake, not the crowd’s. I say this because pleasing the crowd is one of my temptations and often the true reason that I don’t step out in faith in a loving way.

  3. I haven’t read this book, but I don’t want to dilute my Christianity so others have a better opinion of me.

    I am at times judgmental (you have to discern right from wrong in as a Christian), I’m involved in politics and I am interested in making converts to Christ. Most of all, I’m passionate about my beliefs and will stand up for them.

    If that means that I appear Unchristian to people on Earth but I’m living according to God’s Word, so be it. I’m ready to take that chance. Hopefully God will open people’s hearts so that they see the truth — that I’m an imperfect person but that God guides my life and my decisions.

  4. When you act from your heart you are in a state of guilt free, since the Divine within is allowed to guide and act through you, even though one still fells as if he were deciding and acting of himself. Innocence is a willingness to be led by the Lord and not by oneself, the state of tranquility and peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He leads to a good end. When we are in the faith of these things we are in peace, and no solicitude about things to come disquiets us.

  5. Appearing unChristian to other Christians in the name of Christ is ironic, seems to me. I am not so sure that “making converts” is what we are called to do. In fact, it may be the opposite of what we are called to do…which is to love God and others.
    Smug spirituality may be the worst kind.

  6. Anonymous, I am by no means qualified to correct you, and you have a good point in that there should probably be some way to discern that sin is bad, and we shouldn’t just start preaching that “sin is ok if you’ll join the church”. But I still have some comments on the things you said that I hope you at least consider if you ever see them…

    “I haven’t read this book, but I don’t want to dilute my Christianity so others have a better opinion of me.”
    – Allen makes a great point about this. Also, take a look at that sentence… “your” Christianity? The reason you love others regardless of their sins is because it isn’t yours, its God’s and everyone’s. Its not about you or anyone else alone.

    “I am at times judgmental (you have to discern right from wrong in as a Christian)”
    – Determining right from wrong doesn’t mean you have to treat someone poorly or look down on them because they do wrong. I dont think the book is suggesting we ignore right and wrong, its just saying that we love them anyway.

    “I’m involved in politics ”
    – Thats great, its very ‘American’, but don’t confuse religion and politics. No party is Christian.

    “and I am interested in making converts to Christ. ”
    – Doesn’t loving people seem like a good start? In fact doesn’t it seem like loving them unconditionally like God loves us might be all it takes?

    “Most of all, I’m passionate about my beliefs and will stand up for them.”
    – That is great, but always be aware that being too passionate to listen to another point of view only makes you ignorant and isolated from the people who you say you’re interested in converting… If what you believe is real, no argument presented to you will hurt your faith, and people will listen to you a lot more if you listen to them.

    “If that means that I appear Unchristian to people on Earth but I’m living according to God’s Word, so be it. ”
    – If you’re really living according to God’s Word and love your neighbor as you love yourself… I dont think others will consider you unchristian…

    “I’m ready to take that chance. Hopefully God will open people’s hearts so that they see the truth — that I’m an imperfect person but that God guides my life and my decisions.”
    – God will open their hearts, but I think you showing love for them regardless of their sins would be a good way for God to do that. And what ‘chance’ is it that you are taking? The chance that by reaching out to sinners in need you might somehow get dirty? I have a paraphrased quote that sticks in my head from one of Dr. Somerville’s sermons… ‘all around us people are drowning in sin, and we wont even reach out a hand to help them… because we’re afraid we might get dirty.’ That stuck in my head because its scary how true it is. I dont know your exact feelings on this, so dont feel like i’m trying to put words in your mouth, but dont trick yourself into feeling that you are taking a chance… you are playing it safe. Take a chance and go love someone who doesn’t even remember what it feels like to be loved anymore because of all the sin they are involved in… thats taking a chance.

    I hope I haven’t sounded too harsh, I’m not meaning to put down your beliefs. They sounds very strong and secure, and that is very good… I just hope you realize that loving others no matter what, unconditionally, completely, and without a thought of what sin they have committed or are committing… that is always a good thing. It’s what God Himself does… so it makes sense that it should be what we do too doesnt it?

    Like I said, I’m not qualified to preach and I dont want to tell you you’re wrong… but I hope you at least read it with an open mind as I am sure you will.

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