This post may be a bit on the long side but I think that the topic is an important one and one I am very passionate about – the behaviour of Christians.
I have just finished reading a post by fellow blogger “culturemonk” entitled, “Throwing Stones at Pastors – Really?”.
In the post, he was discussing the unpleasant responses he has received, many of which came from so-called “Christians”. I have seen such responses before and I am sure that anyone involved in spreading the word of God, be they pastors or laity, have had to deal with negative feedback.
When I was thinking about this issue, the song “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce sprang to my mind, especially the verse in the chorus which describes ol’ Leroy as “meaner than a junkyard dog”. I think that that description may be aptly applied to many who would love to call themselves “righteous Christians”. “Culturemonk” describes these people as having a “holier than thou” attitude, and I am sure that that is a very real part of the problem, however, I also think that these people are just plain mean – filled with junkyard dog mean spirits.
Junkyard dogs don’t care who you are; they don’t really care about where you might be coming from or what you might be trying to say. They are very opinionated and believe (mistakenly) that they have the only right answers. They suffer from narrow-mindedness, tunnel vision and hard hearts. They are only interested in their own opinions and agendas.
Like real junkyard dogs, Christian junkyard dogs jealously protect those areas they consider to be “sacred”. And just as real junkyard dogs react quickly and attack anything and anyone that they perceive to be trespassing on their property, Christian junkyard dogs are quick to react and aggressively attack any thought, belief, understanding and person that they perceive to be treading in their established “sacred zones”.
Some Christian junkyard dogs just bark, others bark and snarl and foam at the mouth, and then there are those who go straight for the jugular. In their mad frenzy to defend themselves and their so-called “territory”, they can literally tear a person apart.
And all of this is done in the so-called name of Christianity!! I am going to quote my “brother” James and say ” this ought not be so”!
Jas 3:10 Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, it is not right for these things to be so. (BBE)
First of all, to call oneself a Christian means that you are a follower of Christ. Jesus Christ spoke and acted with love, grace, mercy, understanding, compassion and forgiveness. Jesus is the standard to which all Christians should aspire.
1Jn 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked.
Jesus did not even rail against those who jailed and crucified him!
Luk 23:34 And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.
About the only time he spoke with harshness was when he was addressing the Pharisees and Sadducees. (to which club Christian junkyard dogs belong)
Mat 12:34 Offspring of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
“Offspring of vipers” – ouch! Obviously Jesus did not appreciate or tolerate Pharisaic behaviour. Junkyard dogs beware!
Mat 12:36 But I say to you that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment.
Mat 12:37 For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.
Secondly, there is absolutely no place for a “holier than thou” attitude in a Christian’s life:
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,
And thirdly, it is not our knowledge of scripture (oh how many times have I heard someone say to me “I know the Bible frontwards and backwards”!)
1Co 8:2 If anyone seems to himself to have knowledge, so far he has not the right sort of knowledge about anything;
2Co 10:12 For we will not make comparison of ourselves with some of those who say good things about themselves: but these, measuring themselves by themselves, and making comparison of themselves with themselves, are not wise. (BBE)
Jas 1:26 If anyone thinks to be religious among you, yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is vain.
Nor is it our own understanding which saves us, sanctifies us or makes us holy and righteous:
Joh 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life.
Salvation, holiness and righteousness can only be obtained by believing in and accepting Jesus Christ as our personal saviour. It is only through faith in Jesus that we obtain eternal life:
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Now I am not saying that we can not or should not disagree with what someone may be putting forth as the truth concerning God and His Word. In fact, I believe that we should study the scriptures for ourselves and ask God for his holy spirit to give us knowledge, wisdom and discernment regarding what is His truth.
Act 17:11 And these were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things were so.
I also believe that we should pray for wisdom and discernment when it comes to issues of correcting false teaching or incorrect understanding and believing. But again, it is not right for us to have false pride in our own understanding or knowledge. We must not correct another based on pride. It is not our own understanding that is to provide the tool for correction. Correction comes from God and His Word:
2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
It is very important to understand how that tool of correction is to be used. Perhaps you have heard the term “Bible thumper”? Well, I always thought that a Bible thumper was like a preacher who would pound on his Bible to emphasize points in his sermon. (Hellfire, brimstone and hallelujah!) But then I heard a teaching which described a Bible thumper as someone who uses the words of God to metaphorically beat correction and submission into someone else. Perhaps you yourself have been on the receiving end of such a “thump”? I think that Christian junkyard dogs are consummate Bible thumpers. They love to go around beating people up with the scriptures. They love to threaten with words like “you’re damned” and “you’re going straight to hell”. My own mother, who is an earnest seeker of truth, received a huge “thump” from her own pastor when she sought to share her understanding about a certain doctrine. When her understanding did not line up with the church’s doctrine, the pastor told her that she was the spawn of the devil!! Talk about getting thumped!!
We are to use God’s Word to bring correction, but we are given very clear instruction on how that correction should take place:
Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Eph 4:15 But that you, speaking the truth in love, may in all things grow up to Him who is the Head, even Christ;
1Co 8:1 we all seem to ourselves to have knowledge. Knowledge gives pride, but love gives true strength.
We are to speak the truth with grace and love!
You may well know your Bible backwards and forwards, but if all you do is use that knowledge to wound people, if all you’re doing is barking, snapping, growling and biting, you are worse than a junkyard dog – you are nothing!
1Co 13:2 And though I have prophecies, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so as to move mountains, and do not have charity (love), I am nothing.
So seek knowledge, wisdom and understanding and ask God how you should share that knowledge and understanding with others. Seek God’s wisdom and direction when it comes to areas of correction. Above all, follow Christ’s example and do everything in love!
1Th 4:1 And last of all, the prayer which we make to you from our heart and in the name of the Lord Jesus, is this: that as we made clear to you what sort of behaviour is pleasing to God, as in fact you are doing now, so you will go on in these ways, but more and more.
Selah and Amen