There are times when I read what another Christian has written or said, and I wonder whether I am reading the same Bible as them because I can’t justify their behavior based on what I read in my Bible.
Now, I realize that in writing this column I am opening myself up to an accusation that I am making judgments about other people, and that’s something Jesus said we should not do.
So, I am writing this in the form of open questions based on my observations rather than accusations against anyone in particular. And I am writing this to Christians; the rest of you can relax.
I ask these questions of myself as much as anyone else, and if I am being honest, I am uncomfortable with some of my own answers. As always, I am not suggesting that I live a fully sorted life as a follower of Jesus, but I want to be open to his Spirit’s transformational prompting.
Where in the Bible does it say that it’s right to use unpleasant, vitriolic and hateful language against someone with whom you disagree?
Doesn’t the Bible say that the way people will know we are followers of Jesus is by the way that we love one another?
How can it be right that Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love God and the second one was to love others, yet some comments that Christians have posted online about fellow believers and some behavior between Christians appear to be devoid of love and full of hate?
And how are some of the hideous comments made against those who don’t claim a Christian faith showing them what God’s love and grace are like?
Where does it say that it’s OK to condemn someone for interpreting the Bible differently from you by denouncing them as “unbiblical,” which presumably means the denouncer has absolute confidence that their interpretation is entirely “biblical” and there’s no chance they could be wrong?
Wasn’t Jesus regarded as “unbiblical” in his day?
Where does the Bible tell us that we should consider ourselves better than others, using our superiority to tell them how and why they are wrong, and we are right?
Why do Christians spend so much energy arguing about relatively trivial things like doctrinal differences and not spend as much time and energy tackling poverty, injustice and conflict?
Jesus spoke much more about the use of and love of money than he did about doctrine, didn’t he?
Given how much Christians have been forgiven, and how much Jesus said we should forgive, how come some of us find it so difficult to apologize to other Christians when we are wrong and ask for forgiveness?
Is admitting we are wrong so difficult?
I realize this is rather an incendiary post, and it really isn’t my intention to have a go at anyone in particular.
My hope is that an honest effort to consider and answer these questions might just help us (Christians) to be more aware of our own behavior and open us up to God’s Spirit changing us to become more like the Jesus we follow.
Nick Lear is a regional minister of the Eastern Baptist Association in the United Kingdom. A version of this article first appeared on his blog, Nukelear Fishing, and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @NickLear.