I don't like the Pittsburgh Steelers, it's not secret. Yeah I like the Cincinnati Bengals and they and the Steelers are in the same division, but when I looked at why I didn't like the Steelers, it wasn't because of them, it was because of their fans, that made me eventually grow to dislike the Steelers. Now, I have friends and family who love the Steelers and we give each other a hard time in fun, those aren't the folks who make me dislike the Steelers, it's those who are obnoxious, arrogant, and pushy about their team and put down other teams.
I realized this is exactly why some people don't like church or go to church. It's not that they don't like God or church so much, it's that they don't like some of the people that go to church of call themselves Christians. Ouch!
I know it's not fair for me to not like the Steelers because of some obnoxious jerk fans and it's also not fair for people to stay away from God or His church because of some bad or jerk Christians, but the truth of the matter it happens.
People leave church because of how they are treated by other Christians. People go to school, work, or other places with people who are Christians and they may see how they act, behave, or carry on either trying to push God down their throats or the direct opposite they call themselves Christians but they gossip, slander, lie, cuss, and show themselves and that as well turns people away from God and His church.
I've been a part of churches where families stopped coming because someone in the church was rude to them, talked bad about them, or wouldn't allow them to get involved or feel welcome so they left. Was that God's fault? The church as a whole's fault? No, but we need to realize when we are Christians and members of God's Church, we no longer just represent ourselves, we represent God and HIs church.
Just as it's not acceptable to be a Bible-thumping bigot who is obnoxious and arrogant to those who aren't saved or don't go to church, it's also not acceptable to be a bad example, or treat others so poorly then have no desire to step foot in a church or be a Christian.
None of us are perfect, we all sin and fall short, however there is a big difference in being honest and sincere even in our weaknesses and being blind, in denial, or just down right don't care how we act or treat people. Being a Christian means we are wearing the name of Christ and made a commitment to follow Him, Live for Him, and yet even strive to ACT like Him. Which means when we get saved we must take steps to learn to grow and mature in our faith and make changes in our attitudes, behaviors, actions, habits, personalities, and lifestyles.
We want to attract people to God and His church not repel or push them away. While it's true I may never be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I do like many of their players and you can't argue with 6 Superbowl victories, but being a winner and successful doesn't mean you have to be mean, ugly, arrogant, obnoxious, brag, or a jerk. True successful people are confident yet humble, winners yet gracious, and worthy of praise yet don't let it go to their heads. I think true Christians are the same way, we may be on the winning team, but unlike sports, we want people to join our team so we need to act in such a way to attract them not push them further away from God.
We as Christians can never be so "saved" that we think we are better than others, we simply were lost and now we are found, we simply have the truth others do not yet. We also can't be so blind that we forget we represent God and His church and we can't go around losing our tempers, gossiping, cheating, lying, and sinning on purpose and think God get's any glory from it, He doesn't, we are hurting God and His church not helping.
My challenge for me and you who are reading this today is represent God well. Be humble, be gentle, be honest, be patient, be helpful, be loving, be accepting, and be who God wants you to be. Treat others the way God treats you and represent Him well in this world and who knows the influence you may have on others. We all can do better to represent God out in this world, after all He left the
evangelism and outreach of the great commission up to His Church.
Titus 2:7 (NIV)
In everything set them an example by doing what is good.