What I Hate About Christians (Us/Me)

What I Hate About Christians (Us/Me) May 25, 2024

Angry Christian Woman
Angry and Assuming Christian Woman
Image by Mario from Pixabay

Christians, like all humans, are far from perfect and subject to the same idiocy as anyone with a pulse. We fail frequently. We say some dumb things. We set high standards for everyone and then drop the ball. And I say we because I am a Christian. So, I am not casting any stones at others. I hate the things that are sometimes true about me.

Though I don’t hate anyone, I do struggle with the way we are as Christians at times. I admit that hate is a strong word and often has negative consequences (read more about that here), but it’s appropriate in this context.

Let me tell you a true short story.

Years ago, when I worked in banking, I met a woman in her thirties. She was successful, intelligent, and kind. However, when she learned I was “one of them” (i.e., a Christian), she distanced herself from me like I had the plague.

One day, after a short one-on-one business meeting with her, I asked, “Hey, what is it about me that you seem so disturbed by?” At the time, I didn’t know her story or why she typically avoided me, but I wasn’t afraid to ask.

She replied, “You really want to know?”

“Uh, yes . . . I think so.”

I smiled.

She didn’t.

“I hate the Church and find most Christians to be arrogant, mean, and condescending.”

Without missing a beat, I said, “I get it. I don’t hate the Church, but you’re right. A lot of those who claim to follow Jesus are jerks sometimes.”

I will never forget the shock on her face. She’d probably never heard a Christian admit how messed up we can be, and she was a bit surprised I agreed with her. We went on to have a relatively long conversation about why she hated the Church and didn’t like Christians.

A Woman Angry at the Church
A Woman Angry at the Church
Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay

Sadly, her story is something I’ve heard many times. She grew up in an ultra-conservative, hyper-religious, and legalistic home. Her father was a harsh narcissistic control freak (her words), and her mother was a passive doormat (again, her words).

She generally followed the rules when she was within earshot of her folks. But when she was seventeen, she lost her virginity to an eighteen-year-old boy who happened to be the preacher’s kid.

When she graduated from high school, she left home to attend an ultra-conservative Christian college where she continued to explore her sexuality. At the end of her sophomore year, she was kicked out of that school for “conduct unbecoming of a Christian” and arguing too much with her professors about faith and doctrine.

She told me, “I really tried to fit in and wanted to believe what I was being taught, but there wasn’t any wiggle room for debate or discussion. And most of the kids in that college were having sex and drinking regularly. I just got caught.”

I did something else that surprised her at that moment: I asked her for forgiveness.

You didn’t do anything. I don’t need to forgive you!”

“Yes, I did. Once upon a time, I would have judged and treated you harshly, too. And I belong to the Church—the body of Christ—who treated you poorly.”

She cried.

So did I.

(If you’d like to read another short sad story about how we sometimes treat people poorly, read this by John Shore.)

Stained Glass Window
Stain Glass Window
Image by Thomas from Pixabay

One of the things I hate about us, we “saintly” Christians, is how we are so quick to mistreat someone when they don’t measure up to our expectations. 

  • If they don’t believe what I believe about a doctrine or some political issue, I arrogantly mistreat them as absolute idiots and less than me.
  • If they do something I have determined to be sinful (e.g., drink, dance, smoke, swear, etc.), I refuse to befriend them or let them get too close.
  • If another professed Christ-follower fails (meaning they get caught at something I, too, have probably failed at, at least in my heart), then I shun them until they prove to me they have “faithfully and fully repented.”

Another thing I truly dislike about Christians is how often we make assumptions.

We can’t know what is in another person’s heart, but we act as if we are all-knowing and all-seeing. I agree with Ted Rubin, “Assumptions are the mother of all screw-ups when it comes to relationships.”

Yes, we can see the “fruit” of a person’s actions. Yes, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” But you and I don’t know what motivates someone or why they did what they did.

Yet, we quickly assume we know and are sometimes rash in our judgments. Tragically, we too often assume the worst.

We make statements like this all the time.

“They are obviously proud and acting so selfishly. I find it hard to believe they did what they did, but it doesn’t surprise me! I could see this coming.”

“They offered an apology for what they did, but it wasn’t done right, and it sure didn’t seem legit to me. If they were sincere, they would never have done ___________.”

“They should know that genuine repentance requires more than just saying ‘I’m sorry.’ It’s about taking responsibility for how our words and actions affect others. Seems to me that they spent way too much time explaining themselves.”

Compassion is Better than Anger
Compassion is Better than Anger
Image by James Chan from Pixabay

Again, we think we know what is in the heart of others, and when we imagine the worst, we see and believe the worst. But what would our relationships look like if we intentionally chose to believe the best about others (or at least acknowledge that we only see very little)?

  • What if we learned to ask more clarifying questions rather than make quick assumptions?
  • What if we believed people genuinely are trying to do their best even when we think they have fallen short?
  • How would it change what we say about people and how we treat others if we got off our high horse?

I think the late Brennan Manning was onto something when he wrote: “The way we see other people is usually how we see ourselves. If we have made peace with our flawed humanity, and have embraced our ragamuffin identity, we are able to tolerate in others what was previously unacceptable in ourselves.”

In other words, “If you spot it, you got it.”

So, we would do better to show each other mercy, as one ragamuffin to another, rather than wag our finger at others in disgust. To develop and maintain healthy relationships, we must remember that only God knows the heart, and you and I aren’t God.

Hopefully, when we learn to practice kindness and grace consistently, we will look a lot more like Jesus and put off a lot fewer people like my friend, who hates the Church and Christians.

Let’s stop giving people any reason to point to our lives and question our unconditional love for others . . . even those (i.e., especially those) whom we disagree with.

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