What Do Non-Christians Really Think of Us?

I consider myself a very blessed man in a number of ways. This blog has become one of my great blessings. One of the reasons I love this blog community is the variety of people who interact on it. There has been an increase in the number of people who aren’t Christians who comment on various posts. I want to share with you the perspective of one young woman on how she views Christians. These comments come directly from her comments on some of my posts. They have not been changed.

On Being Selfish, Not Really Interested in Others

I remember a rather outspoken evangelical Christian young woman I worked with – I’d just moved to town, and we went to a movie together. Each week she invited me to her church, and I didn’t want to offend her by saying “No thanks.” As it was, I had Buddhist activities one Sunday and I was mentoring a young girl two other Sundays, but that theoretically left a Sunday open. We only worked together for 3 months, and it never worked out. I went to a different job.

She showed up there one night, and jumped right to the church invite. No “Hey, how’ve you been? Haven’t seen you in a while!” Nope – just “Do you want to come to church with me this weekend?” Since I was on to her game, I decided to play. I said, “Sure, I’ll go to church with you, because I’m interested in seeing what you’re interested in. That’s what friends do, after all. And I’m sure you’ll want to come with me to a Buddhist meeting to see what I’m interested in, right?”

“Oh no!” she replied. “I just love the Lord so much!”

“Well,” I said, “then there’s no point in me going to your church because I’m not interested in either becoming a Christian or joining your church.” I never saw her again.

That’s how far Christian friendship extends – I’ve seen it over and over and over. Christians look at everyone else as if they’ve got targets painted on their foreheads. Nobody likes being hunted down or treated like someone else’s project. We don’t need to drop all our beliefs just to accept yours, and we don’t need to become more like you just to be acceptable people, worthy of being regarded as people instead of targets. Love does not seek to create clones of itself. Selfishness does.

On Being Self-centered and Judgmental

Keep your religious beliefs to yourself. If I have any interest in what you believe, I’ll ask you. And if I don’t ask you, then go right ahead and assume that your “witnessing” will be unwelcome. I’m sure that you like whatever you believe very much, and I’m very happy that you like it. However, just as your favorite flavor of ice cream is not necessarily going to be mine, I wish you would assume that I’m just as content with my own beliefs (or lack thereof) as you are with yours. Why not ask me first what *I* believe? Why not show an interest in what’s interesting to me instead of expecting me to always be interested in what YOU’RE interested in? Christians are so selfish and self-centered! Tell me – when was the last time an atheist rang your doorbell to tell you about his worldview? The reason the world hates Christians is because they behave badly, they’re rude, boorish, arrogant, conceited, full of themselves, ignorant, and judgmental. Go ahead – accuse me of being judgmental now. Doesn’t matter – I don’t claim to follow a belief system that has actual rules AGAINST being judgmental, so it’s *fine* for me to be!

On Being Unwilling to Develop True Friendships with Non-Christians

As a mother of young children in a homeschooling environment, we found ourselves surrounded by Christians. Of course, the kids would become friends and we moms would chat while they played. Without a single exception, this “acquaintanceship” only progressed to the point that I had to make it clear that no, I would not acceptjesusasmypersonalsavior, and no, I would not be attending their church. Then the Christians never called again, and I was left to explain to my sad children why their new friends wouldn’t be playing with them any more.

When my son was just 6, the boys down the street told him he was not allowed to play with them because he wasn’t a Christian. I went down to see what was going on (because my 4-yr-old daughter was going to go down there and teach those boys a lesson!) and I confirmed that what my son had reported was indeed what they’d said. And the mother of one was right out in the front yard, 25 feet from me, pretending to be very focused on trimming some plants. She never said a word.

Finally, the 6-yr-old girl across the street told my kids, ages 7 and 9, that if they weren’t Christians, they would be going to hell. She certainly learned the “Good News”. And you Christians wonder why we non-Christians avoid you?? HINT: It’s not because we’re intimidated by your awesomeness and are just sitting here, pining for you, wishing you would like us. We already know you don’t.

Your Response?

Frankly, I found these comments painfully true for many of us. Though my first reaction was one of defensiveness, the more I read them, the more I realize that this women has identified many of us Christians too clearly.

What do you think? What is your response?

Posted on June 15, 2013

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • The guy who stepped down as president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain last month did what he called the Big Hearted Tour during his year in office. Amongst the activities he encouraged people to do was to give gifts to strangers on the street to bless them When I joined one of his teams to do that we found ourselves blessing sick kids and tired grandmothers who were caring for young children.

    He is a town centre chaplain in Peterborough. He and his helpers provide a listening ear to people. I read his blog yesterday and the fact that he was available on the street willing to talk to people meant that he was able to talk to a lady who was considering suicide that night. Rather than being suicidally desperate she had a new greater sense of how much God loved her. Sometimes he and his team of volunteers offer people a hug or give them a gift as they try to bring God’s love and God’s word into people’s lives.

    I can understand people wanting to keep themselves pure and not let darkness in but the truth is that light extinguishes darkness. Put the light on and darkness cannot survive. Are those who do not allow darkness near them so afraid of the darkness that they cannot let it near them? If so how strong do they think the light in them actually is? I am not saying willfully and disobediently go into dark places but if we are walking with Jesus His light will protect us in the dark places. Not only that but we have the ability to shine God’s light into those dark places.

  • It’s a tragedy that she is dead on. I personally think a huge majority of Christians are like this (myself included). I won’t go tracting for this reason. I think insincere evangelism can be more detrimental than a long-term waiting approach. And sadly, I have to agree with another commenter that when I do have deep converstions with non-believers, I’m not going to invite them to my church. I don’t even feel welcome there all the time, so why would I plunk an unbeliever down in the middle of it? Life is all about meaningful relationships — with God, fellowship with believers, and understanding unbelievers. If someone at church needs counsel, they don’t want their pastor to just quote scripture at them and then he’s done. No, everyone — believers and unbelievers alike — deserves to be taken seriously and to have time taken to understand them because we are dealing with the image of God.

  • Kim Wright says on

    Great article Thom,
    I also liked the part about the “Christians look at everyone like they have a target painted on their forehead.” I don’t know why some Christians do that. But we need to remember that we could be the only living Bible some people see and witness and we need to act in love to everyone, just like Christ did. Love is the only way to win over non believers.

  • I came to Christ late in life (41).
    Since becoming a Christian and being involved in a church I find it highly frustrating how the “church” presses us to witness and evangelize our lost friends. I work with people now who are not saved. It is no secret that I am a Christ follower. I don’t hide it. I pray for them. On occasion I’ve had some come to me during a personal crisis and ask me to pray for them. But sometimes I feel like the church is trying to make me feel guilty because my friends are still lost. We even had a SS “program” to promote witnessing and there were charts around church so each person could log how many people they witnessed to each week. Like a competiton or something. And if you didnt participate – shame shame. If your friends die and go to hell it will be my fault because I didn’t tell them about Jesus.
    And if you hang out with them. . . What will my church friends think? Surely I’ll be ostracised from the church.
    Maybe that’s just my church though.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Renee –

      A verbal witness is absolutely necessary. The non-Christian will never hear the gospel unless we share it. But too often we fail to show Christ’s love along with His message. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

      Thank you for sharing.

      • Irene Jones says on

        “The non-Christian will never hear the gospel unless we share it.” That’s a pretty arrogant thing to write. A lot of atheists in this country were brought up in Christianity, have heard the gospel and have rejected it. I’m one of them. I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, as a devout believer. I now reject the Bible as divinely inspired. You take too much upon yourself. It must add a lot of stress to your life, if you look at non-believers as projects to be completed.

    • Kami no Musuko says on

      There’s another problem. We dislike being referred to as “lost”. We’re not lost, we’re on a different path. We have a different objective in life, different reasons, and like the path we’re on just fine. I used to be a christian. I became dissatisfied and switched to Shinto. In essence, the map I was using was unsatisfactory, so I got a new one. When people convert to a new religion, it’s because they want to. Not generally because someone told them they were lost or going to hell. That’s just insulting.

      • Minh Nguyen says on

        Well, why am I not surprised about what you describe. I absolute agree with everything you said.

        Christianity is dehumanizing, and so are Christians.

        I don’t care if Christians worship Yahweh. I read the Bible. I know the content and the doctrine. I was raised in a Buddhist family. I don’t have emotional connection with Christian hell. Until it’s actually proven, I won’t force myself to believe it’s real just in case.

        It’s an insult to my intellectual honesty and humanity.

        It seems only evangelical Southern Baptists actually enjoy forcing fear into non Christians’ mind to impose psychological terror. That’s just so insidious, not mentioning so unamerican.

        Most Americans I have encounter are very nice and accepting, not tolerant.

    • B Ansel says on

      I have a question: How would you like it if I prayed for you to the God I believe in? I am not Christian, and I don’t push my religion on other people, but I do not use my prayers to pray for those who believe in another God and I would certainly appreciate it if those who believe in Jesus not pray to him for me. It would be the same (in my opinion) as praying to your devil to save me from my preferred beliefs.

      I think Jesus was a wonderful teacher of love, but I do not understand him as a savior or son of God. What I see are a lot of people who only see him as a savior Son of God and who completely ignore his teachings on how to treat the poor and outcasts. I have no trust in Christians who only want to hold that ticket that they believe transports them to Heaven. Leave me out of your prayers, please and I’ll do the same for you.

  • Spending a decade on the mission field forced me to learn the culture as an “outsider.” I’ve realized how clueless I was (and maybe still am) about relating to people who aren’t like me. It’s easy for those of us raised in Christian homes/environments to misunderstand how the rest of the world sees us and life in general. I’m learning . . . I hope.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      I’m learning too Kevin. But I’ve got a long way to go.

    • Keep in mind that when you’re in the United States, many if not most non-Christians were also raised in Christian homes and environments. Missions locally have got to be more challenging in many ways as those being ministered to already have a lot of varying preconceived notions about Christianity. But when it comes down to it, in local missions, a lot of the people you speak to have the same background you do.

      Even though I landed on the non-Christian end of the spectrum, I’ve had good and bad experiences with Christians. Many people have only had the bad experiences, unfortunately.

      • Salafrance Underhill says on

        I used to attend Sunday School as a child, and the culture I grew up in was essentially baptist christian. I’ve always been an atheist, though, having been unsatisfied with the answers prvided by religion from a very young age. I *experimented* with prayer as a child – I read quite widely, from Norse, Greek and Roman mythology to parapsychology, to Hinduism and other religions, and I measured everything I read against what I saw of the real world. I have a close friend who’s an evangelical christian, and our friendship long predates her conversion. Essentially, I’ve thought about the religious question, and I’m not unusual for a western atheist. These days, when someone attempts to witnesss to me, I tend to see it as an attempt to subvert my hold on reality, in effect an attempt to drive me insane. I’m aware that the witness doesn’t share my perception and so I always try to be polite and sympathetic. In essence, I’m trying to communicate in this post how very different my world view is as compared with that of the would-be witness.

        It might not be flattering to you, as Christians, to understand that a proportion of the atheist community regards your belief system as insane, but it is the truth. Honestly, when I talk to Creationists, I find the experience quite scary, as I see a collection of people who are denying truths that they could verify for themselves, and as a political aim, trying to undo the hard-won achievements of Enlightenment thought.

  • Jerijo Cox says on

    “Woe is me!” This woman’s statements are unfortunately accurate, convicting, and heart breaking. I pray God opens our eyes to these offenses and changes our hearts towards unbelievers, beginning with me.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Me too, Jerijo. Me too.

    • kellie hewitt says on

      jerijo, I disagree. Why are we surprised that our words would be offensive to nonbelievers? Jesus told us that if they hated Him, they would hate us. The words of the little girl “if you don’t believe in Jesus, you will go to hell.” are true. The Truth is often offensive and thought provoking. I’m sorry that they hurt some people and I’m sorry that sometimes -when our preacher is speaking the Word is offensive and hurts me too. It is is always upsetting to hear your faults and that no matter “how good we are” “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.

      • Chris Jones says on

        Not saying that isn’t true, but you do get that those words are empty and useless, right? If the little girl (and more importantly, her parents) had said, “Jesus loves you and so do I” and her actions (and those of her parents) reflected that then lives might have been changed for eternity. “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will go to hell” is great to make us feel superior but does nothing for the person it is directed at. Actions speak louder than any words anyway, and that’s a Biblical principle.

      • Some of us have the ability to say true things without being jerks. If you don’t that’s a character flaw.

        The only person in this equation who is hateful as you. It is very clear that it is much more important for you to be right than it is for you to be a good person. You want to be “hated” because being “right” and opposed strokes your ego. It lets you pretend to be the persecuted hero, when you’re just a bully with a martyr complex.

      • I know I’m late to the party, but as an atheist, I have a couple of things to say.

        I can’t say even 10% of the interactions I have with Christians are positive. I actively have to hide my lack of faith at my workplace, where my co-workers are free to mention their beliefs in passing, because I don’t want to be prosthelytized to or have my ethics discussed and questioned at length. I’ve been fired from a secular daycare for declining attending church. It is emphatically unsafe to be who I am around Christians.

        When my mother died, she was Orthodox. We (my husband, who had a co-equal voice with me, and my sister) hadn’t been to her church or met her friends, most of whom were monks. We personally believe she is gone. She had left no will or money, so the cost of the funeral was on us. We waited to cremate her (unfortunately we simply could not afford to bury her) until after the service, and got special dispensation from the Bishop to cremate because he was her friend and he’d lost her. It was 100% out of compassion for them. We spent an extra $1000 to make sure she was presentable for the funeral and to cremate her later, because they kiss the body.

        Knowing this, they included psalms asking to deliver them from the unbeliever, including psalm 68, which cried to God to have our head bashed in. It wasn’t even spiteful. That’s just your holy book, that’s just what you pray for at people’s funerals. Hate’s just how you live.

        These are not atypical bad results in a see of good ones, this is how Christians treat me and mine. This is the sort of thing I can absolutely expect from either Christians, or the people Christians willingly fellowship with. They do not say it’s not OK. That is the standard you hold yourselves and others to, and I want no part of it.

        What I mostly want is for Christians to leave me alone. Not befriend me so that they can give me a message that my beliefs are not OK AFTER we’ve known one another for a while, but to leave me alone to live my life. Do not become more sophisticated in your evangelism, leave us alone. I want them to leave my gay sister alone, not beat her, not tell her she’s going to hell, leave her alone. It is clear you are either hateful, or condone hate. So, please, leave us alone. But you will not, because you are or associate with bullies, and what w

      • After reading your post, I’m wondering if it’s partly due to the area you live in that you’ve had those experiences? Where I live, people don’t seem very tolerant of Christians and there’s a lot of gay pride. Knowing that, I can’t speak for the Christians in your area.

        WhatI will say, is people do bad things and the people who find God tend to be the ones who know they need him. Christians aren’t perfect, and anyone claims otherwise I’d deluding themselves. We are selfish, and honestly it’s easier to stick with people who understand how we think (and who we believe we’re going to see again. It’s hard to pour your heart into people when you know they’re probably be gong to the bad place when you die. Hell is not just hard for non-believers to deal with).

        I know your opinion is cemented in prior experience. All I’m really trying to get across is that we’re all coming form a very human, flawed place. It’s not being Christian that makes a person hateful.

        (Also, I’m pretty sure Psalm 68 is meant to apply to demons [think mental disorders like depression, or emotional pain like grief and sadness] nowadays rather than literal people. At least, that’s how it’s been explained to me]).

      • “You’re going to Hell” is a threat. People tend to react poorly to threats. “I love you and you should believe in what I believe or else don’t pack your winter jacket for the afterlife” is still a threat.

  • Charles Lord says on

    The comments should help believers to understand the importance of speaking (and living) the truth “in love”. Love is more excellent than tolerance, or “live and let live”. Seems like this woman has experienced truth without love, and I am challenged and reminded by her comments to love others, and to love my neighbor has myself. Thanks for sharing her personal experiences and perspective. I add a brief story…while in seminary, we were ‘street witnessing’ and a man was offended that we were ‘trying to convert him’ and that we were judging everyone else by ‘witnessing’ to them about Jesus. He was quite angry at first, but a friend of mine asked the man to consider our motives and also how we might serve him. She said, “if you believed what we do: namely, that each human being is a sinner whose sin will be eternally judged, and yet God loves sinners and sent the Savior, and that whomever believes in Him is saved from judgement and receives God’s life… would you think it loving to not do whatever we can to share God’s invitation to life with everyone that they can?” His anger melted away right in front of me, and the conversation continued. Speaking the truth in love is more than speaking in a loving way, but really loving others. I am sorry that this woman and her family were not offered the grace of friendship and kindness, and I can understand why she is offended. Christians without love look merely religious, and if “religion” was all this was about, unbelief and unbiblical belief would still fall short of the glory of the gospel and the way of Jesus.

  • Sadly, as a christian I have to admit that I have experienced more rejection from christians than non christians. Unfortunately, I am also sure that I have hurt people just as much.
    I know this is not who Jesus is or what He is about. God has been talking to me about loving others and seeing them through His eyes, not mine. Thank you for posting this lady’s comments.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Carla –

      Thank you. Sometimes I think we have the “truth” part down pretty well. The “love” part, however, is sacrificial and costly. Most of us don’t want to pay the price.

    • Charles Palmer says on

      After 24 years of researh and study of different religious books, which includes the Bible, my findings on Christianity is shocking. Christian behavior is non other than clear signs of a Satanic movement, and this can be proven by what is seen and what the Bible says. Christianity today is causing major damage, and there are many people suffering under the evil hands of it’s self-righteous and deadly acts. I have met fallen Christians, who’s lives will never find healing because of the great damage other christians have done to them, and many of these damaging christians were found to be church leaders. Just take an honst look at all the hurt and confusion within the so many ranks of Christianity today, then one can see how Satanic Christianity is. I do believe there is a true living God, but with christianity what I have seen and know, how can any person follow it’s Satanic ways?

      • Anonymous says on

        Well…no lies told. What you have posted is so doggone true. Uhhh, Houston (Christians)? We got a problem.

  • Perry Hess says on

    Very good article! One statement that jumped out at me was “Christians look at everyone else as if they’ve got targets painted on their foreheads.”
    In many Christian churches (most?) this is the predominant view. Get ’em saved and move on.
    There are times when point-blank witnessing should be done, but for the most part we should develop relationships (real ones, regardless of the other persons idea of Christianity) and earn the right to be heard.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Perry –

      That’s a good, balanced perspective. Thanks.

      • I agree with Perry. Sometimes, too busy with getting new believers and moving on. Need also to take care of the current flock, while reaching out to others.
        Overall, we Christians do too much excluding of non Christians, which turns the nons away. We don’t need to shove it down their throats, but show Christ by example in the way we live.

      • Diane Conier says on

        Amen amen I am a Christian…..Recently I had a BBQ for my Niece and Husband who came to visit from the UK….I invited my new next door neighbours and some friends from my work.. All were not Christians. I invited 3 Christian friends. It seems the Christian couple told my new neighbours that they where going to hell and where heathens……..I only found out a few days later when I was at work and my none Christian friend asked “WHO WHERE THOSE PEOPLE” ????? And she went on to explain that they had told my neighbours that they would go to hell and where preaching fire and brimstone. Since I was hosting 18 people on the night I,d missed what was going on…..As the week has unfolded other friends have spoken about THOSE PEOPLE and how rude they where on the night…..I am totally embarrassed at the behaviour of these fairly New Christian friends and certainly will not be inviting them to my home again……..My belief is to build relationships with people first and this can take some time, and actions speak louder than words….I feel horrible that my none Christian friends have had religion pushed down their throat….. I apologised to my neighbours for my Christian friends behaviour and they where very gracious but mentioned that HE was very rude……I realy don,t want Christians in my life like that…..I am yet to talk to this couple and tell then that they offended many people on that night….. Ahhhhhh this is NOT Christianity

      • It seems like much of this is about the poor job the church has done in making disciples. Somewhere this turned into just getting unbelievers saved. Maybe it has more to do with growing believers to be true followers of Jesus known by our love and spiritual fruit (like patience kindness, self-control and such).

        If a non-believer is offended, it should always be the message of truth that offends, not us Christians. Ask questions, have a discussion, earn the privilege to share your beliefs as you have allowed the other person to. Then leave it up to God.

    • My two cents: make it very clear from the outset that this relationship is not predicated on the other party accepting Jesus, and maintain the relationship even if the change of heart never happens and you just have to come to a point where religious belief isn’t much discussed.

      • Thom Rainer says on

        Thank you Sarah. Your perspective added much to the discussion.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        Sarah: Most Christians believe that a person cannot become a Christian without “God” or the “Holy Spirit” doing something something to that person’s heart – there are abundant verses in the Christian scriptures about predestination and how God *chooses* those he wishes to be followers (including the example of Jesus, who went around DEMANDING that men follow him instead of waiting for disciples to appear of their own accord like REAL teachers – such as John the Baptist – did). So, given God’s “grace” and “plan”, why say anything at all about Jesus? IF ASKED, you can disclose that you’re Christian, but beyond that, why not let the other person lead your discussion into matters of spirituality?

        “make it very clear from the outset that this relationship is not predicated on the other party accepting Jesus”

        That’s going to sound weird. Sorry, I realize your heart is in the right place, but acknowledging that Christians are predators by up-front disclosing that you’re not – doesn’t that *bother* you? That you’re identifying with a group that routinely treats people poorly? What does that say for the key tenets of your religion, that the jeez is supposed to change people’s hearts and people are supposed to “put on the new man in Christ” blah blah blah? Most Christians will respond that those other Christians aren’t TRUE Christians, aren’t doin it rite, yadda yadda, but THEY believe they are. Most certainly! Why should I believe that YOU’re right and THEY’re wrong? With over 43,000 different sects of Christianity in the world, most of which insist that their interpretation is the only correct one and all the others are false and wrong, it’s far more likely that they’re ALL wrong than that any ONE is right.

        So why not be friends with people just for themselves? You appear to be leaning toward this, but the fact that the whole “I realize you think I’m going to ditch you if you don’t convert” angle is front and center indicates something remains very wrong. Why not be yourself, have an individual’s identity, instead of being a cookie-cutter “Christian” who feels compelled to distance herself from the unpleasant connotations of “Christian”?

  • Hearspeak says on

    It’s a heartbreak that I would have to concede that for a people who are indeed supposed to be known by our love, we are instead so well known as people who are identified as portrayed above. I have seldom heard a non-Christian describe us favorably! Peter told us to be ready always to give an answer, but so many will never be asked anyway because of such behavior described–even if its not our behavior we are too often ‘tainted’ already.

    Certainly, God continues to be at work in His people and in the world but its in spite of us more than because of us. I’ve often told a friend of mine that if one of my unsaved friends were to fall on his face, confess his sin and proclaim his need for God, the last place I’d take him would be to church! For sure, I’d nurture and ‘disciple’ him and stir up his growth in Christ, but it would only be with fear, caution and not a little trepidation that I’d introduce him to the church world and even then, only if he insisted!

    Sad, isn’t it? But it’s a reality!

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Hearspeak –

      We in our churches need a true revival of our hearts. I am too often chief among those sinners.

  • I appreciate this woman’s perspective and her words are worth pondering. Frankly, I have some non-Christian friends who I enjoy being around more than some Christians! Unbelievers who encourage me more than Believers? Yep, it happens.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      John –

      I understand fully.

    • Bolekwa says on

      It’s great that you’re not rejecting people because of their religious status. But why on earth classify people as Christians and Non-Christians. Why not just classify people as individuals?

      • Because everyone has a belief in something, even if it’s just themselves. And with those beliefs are measurements of what’s approved and what isn’t. In the Bible, which is the authority of the Christian belief, God expresses His desire that all would come to know Him, and He provides the way of knowledge through belief and faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, if one believes, He is a Believer (Christian). If one does not believe, he is a non-believer (non-Christian). While a non-believer is still created and loved by God, he is non-approved for eternal life unless or until he believes in Jesus Christ as one who offers repentance and forgiveness of sins (sins being anything that is against God’s word and ultimately hurts God and others). The acceptance of this does not mean that believers are sinless (although some incorrectly want you to believe that they are). In fact, the humblest of believers will tell you how mush they continue to struggle with sin. The difference is that they have a place they can go to receive forgiveness, not so that they can keep sinning, but so that each time they ask for forgiveness, they are humbled to the point of eventually casting off sin. Believers understand this to be a life long process that is not completed until they reach heaven. So, there is a distinction of belief. You either believe in these things or you don’t. Christianity defines it as Christian or non-Christian, just as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and all other beliefs have their distinctions. But I want to make it clear that Christianity is the only faith that assures a faithful believer who follows Christ will enter heaven. No other faith has such assurance. If this offends someone, it is because the Gospel of Christ offends the sinful desires of man. Now, if someone does not have a religious identification and belief, then he is left to himself as one whom he believes, and even with that are measurements of what is approved and what isn’t; laws he creates to function and live. He creates his own distinctions and lives by them.

        Bolekwa, I’m providing this commentary to respectfully answer your question and add to your understanding, not to open a platform for argument.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        Art – Cliffs Notes version (spoilers): Because it’s just so much more fun to judge and divide and disdain.

    • Treebird says on

      I, too, have received encouragement from nonbelievers. Sometimes it is nice to see people just care about you and not judge you for what you find comfort in.

      • Sadly. True. I struggled with postpartum depression. I got plenty of judgment, ignorant comments, and treating me like I’m a project.

        I attend a non-sectarian support group and found better support and encouragement.

        I enjoy being outside the church bubble. I used to be one of those super involved and a bible college grad. I found that there was no safe place to question, and rejection because I didn’t fit the narrow expectations for women. Sexism, misogyny, discrimination based on race and illness were the things I experienced. It was sadly church where I heard my first racial slur.

        I’m not interested in religion anymore. I’m an atheist and I’m much more happier. There’s less drama in my life too.

  • Dr. Thom, thanks for posting these comments. I hope this sweet lady continues to interact and help us see the beam in our own eye. I too find her remarks painfully true. I feel horrible that this has been her experience.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Mike –

      The sting in her comments were the sting of truth, at least for me. My response is to repent and to ask God to give me the strength to live and love like Jesus.

    • Yes I hope so too. After reading this I have had to repent. I have a sister who I have almost no relationship with because of everything discussed on this forum. She has forgiven me and we no agree to start working on a relationship again. It was Gods will for me to find this site, which was so random for me. thank you all! How do I get permission to share this post on my website please?

      • Thom Rainer says on

        Janet –

        Permission granted. Thanks for asking.

      • Treebird says on

        Speaking of asking… I am looking to do some research on how unbelievers see Christians and how Christians turn off unbelievers. I would love some feedback on this topic. I hope to write an article on how Christians unknowingly turn away people from the faith and am interested in opinions and stories about that to help me create a more comprehensive and complete picture of the problem. I feel many Christians simply do not see how their behavior is the problem and not just the fact that people are sinners. We are all sinners even those of us who believe. My goal is to produce something that make the believer more aware of the damage they do to others and the way they discredit God by their actions and treatment of others. I am willing to discuss this with anyone (believer or not) who will talk about it in an open and honest way. No judgment from me and none wished for in return. Just open honest conversation.

      • As a non-believer, let me start with the idea of sin. Christians automatically consider everyone sinners, that we are all flawed and condemned to misery unless we see the light of God and accept Jesus as lord and savior. Be assured that even if other religions use the term ‘sin’, it does not mean to them what it means to you. Also, be assured that sin is primarily a Christian idea. So when you speak of sin to a non-believer, you are imposing a Christian idea on them and frankly, we don’t like it. Many non-believers do not believe in sin, we do not see ourselves as being in misery, and we believe life as-is is just fine on its own. We may get ourselves into sticky situations at times, but there is nothing other than our own sense of guilt that would condemn us to any misery. The concept of sin is alien to non-believers and we feel you Christians would do well to be rid of it as well. We non-believers would also greatly appreciate it if Christians got off their high horses and sense of self-aggrandizement. I’ve heard many of you say you do things for the glory of god, but when I see the actions of Christians, it really comes down to a Christian’s own glory – by saving someone they appear higher in their church, they wear a smug smile on their face and look to feel just a bit more superior than others. The condescension of Christians has raised a rage in me more times than I can count. I apologize if my words have an edge, but I’ve had to deal with such Christians pointedly ever since I left the church. I know not all Christians are like this and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they would just relax and stop preaching from the mountaintops, just be normal human beings without a stick up their wahoo’s, stop trying to save everyone. If people really wanted to be Christian, they would ask. You imposing your beliefs when really folks don’t want them makes you rude. And you won’t win folks that way. Just stop trying to reel people in, and maybe they will come on their own.

      • Did you write your column?

      • Dear Tom,
        Can I also use it in the church magazine I edit at Keynsham Baptist Church near Bath UK. It is a bi-monthly mag’ that is freely given and production is paid for by the fellowship. It has a print run of only some 200. We do not sell advertising.
        Can you send a response to [email protected]
        Best wishes.

    • Colby Cline says on

      Love breaks all barriers and love changes hearts. Love changes lives. We can’t just tell people we care about them and we want them to come to church with us, we have to act out our love. We need to meet people and understand them first. I don’t even let people know I am a Christian until we share some deep conversations about each others lives (unless they specifically ask me). We need to remember how we were when we were lost and how other Christians treated us when we came to salvation. Love changes lives.

      • Bolekwa says on

        You’re missing the point. Non-Christians aren’t lost and most of us aren’t interested in your religion, even in deep conversations. In fact, it’s a sure-fire way to end that lovely deep conversation. You’re correct, LOVE changes lives, not what book someone believes in.

      • Treebird says on

        So what would make Christians more “appealing” to you? In other words, what would make their faith something you would respect, even if you disagreed with it? Would quiet faith do it, or would just watching them live what they teach be the thing? Perhaps something else I may not have thought of before.

      • I have two friends who are devout Christians. Both of them have shared their convictions, but respected mine. We’ve all listened well to each other. I watch them passionately live out their faith. They love me well. They don’t tell me I need Jesus. But my heart has started to stir and now I’m asking them questions. Christians need to TRUST God is working in their non-believers lives. They need to relax and let things naturally happen. It’s your faith-filled, loving CONFIDENCE in Christ that is attractive. Stop efforting for Jesus! 🙂

      • It's you not me says on

        See that’s just it: “So what would make Christians more “appealing” to you?”

        The question alone is ego-centric, you want to be more appealing. This is not a question of who is appealing to who. The problem is that as many of this stories demonstrate (and I share these types of personal experiences as well) Christians alienate non-Christians or even other types of Christians with deal breaker incompatibilities. It’s the Christians in these stories that are performing the alienation not the targets of the alienation.

        You should be asking yourself is there a way I can go about interacting with all people not just those of my church without alienating them. It’s a skill you need to learn, not us.

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        Treebird, those are my comments up top, and they’re all 100% honest and true. If you want to chat, I’m your huckleberry. I remember that a friend of mine once commented, years ago, that when she was getting to know a new prospective friend, and that friend-candidate mentioned that she was a Christian, my friend’s heart sank, because she knew it would be just a matter of time before she would be backed into a corner and forced to state that she wouldn’t be converting or joining any church, at which time that good Christian would disappear.

        Christians don’t *like* us. They don’t seem to like other people much at all. If they regarded us as people and treated us as friends (instead of as projects, targets, or notches on a Bible, we’d probably like them better. Who doesn’t like someone who thinks you’re interesting, wants to learn more about you, values your perspective, and wants to spend time with you? But with Christians, it’s almost always just manipulation – a way to get an “in” to “sell” the target on the Jesus product. And that is deeply insulting. What, I’m only good enough to you for a sale??

      • Blanche Quizno says on

        “So what would make Christians more “appealing” to you?”

        The same thing that makes anyone appealing. They are friendly, kind, thoughtful, sensitive, interesting, interested, respectful, have things in common, and treat others as individuals. Want to be unappealing? Then make it clear that you believe the other person needs to change. Want to be REALLY unappealing? Make it clear that the other person needs to change to become MORE LIKE YOU.

      • Sam Johnson says on

        If you actually want appealing leave religion out of it. Same goes for politics and whether you prefer marvel or DC.

        Jokes aside though, non believers REALLY hate having christian beliefs shoved down their throat, which really is all you’re doing by being so preachy and religious around them. I mean it’s not like they go out of their way to say how much bull you’re talking.

      • I have seen the inroads of Ecumenicalism for the last 20 years. I agree that Christians behavior is bad at times but I feel that life-style evangelism is not evangelism. Christians in the US are free from persecution yet churches are bending over backwards not to offend even to the point of saying things like There are people that are angry at the very mention of Jesus so don’t talk about him. Talk about baseball or take them out for ice cream. The Church is planting into the minds of believers is that Jesus is offensive and how long will it take before believers will feel the same especially to their teenage children that they are trying just to have a relationship with?

        Christians under Communism suffered imprisonment, torture and death as the west via the World Council of Churches stood by with acclades for the hand picked Christian leaders of Communists countries. Christians in China and especially Korea suffer the same. I feel that the question is not whether to mention or not mention the name of Jesus but ask why are Christians of the US so quiet. Why are Church leaders commanding us to keep quiet while Christians in other countries are vocal. Does not our bible reveal Jesus, Peter, Paul and others who did the opposite.

        I feel that the US is a pampered country where Christians see themselves as US citizens before they see themselves as Christians. Where political voice is the same as faith. Christians share the same concerns as the secular. Seculars themselves are equally as pampered. Well what if all these things were stripped away? What if no one was allowed to think for themselves, like Communism. A place where one could not say I am, not without saying first I am a Communist. What I am suggesting is not that the US was founded as a great big Church, the founding fathers made great effort not to have that same environment as in England. What I am saying that Christianity only thrives where nothing else is allowed to grow. Only grows where there is no hope, no diversion, no comfort. We have too much diversion in the US and that is the problem. In the time of Jesus and the apostles people spent their days looking for food and lodging. A situation that was present in east London in the 1880’s called hand to mouth living. Jesus did not come to a place of prosperity but a place of never ending need for the most basic of life. This is I feel a part of the dynamic of Christian life. The very definition of joy, not happiness but that which surpasses understanding.

      • Ned Christiansen says on

        Jim, I couldn’t agree more. Those of us that have been blessed enough to live in the US, for the most part, don’t even understand the amazing gift that God has granted us . Our existence on earth is to demonstrate and magnify the Glory of God. We have been promised eternal life. So many Christians think that just believing in Jesus as the Son of God, guarantees their salvation, as they look down on, exclude, gossip, get drunk, luster after people, etc. That is not Christianity! I believe it was St. Peter, that said, “Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.” Christianity is not believing in Jesus and it easy Street to eternity with our Father in Heaven. Christianity is NOT using God to obtain more because someone stands up on stage and perverts Scripture to ease you conscience. I think that most people in the United States would have no clue what the cost of being a Christian is. Most that I’ve spoken with, on Christianity, is how we have found favour with God. He wants us to live abundantly, He wants us to have anything we ask for….. That is complete nonsense and these people have been so deceived. That thinking is not of God and leads them away from God. They don’t see that it is a selfish lifestyle, not Christianity! The treasure of being a Christian can be easily seen ifrom you take a minute to look around the world where Christians are being killed for their refusal to renounce Christ, their Savior. They would much rather die than deny Christ!! Why? Because they truly understand the cost of being a Christian but they rejoice because they also understand the payoff, eternity in Heaven. Christianity is living your life like you truly understand this life on earth is a temporary affliction. We are to follow God’s rules. Yes, it’s hard, due to our fallen nature. If you love Him enough and ask for the grace to change, it will be granted to you. Thats what the Bible is saying when it speaks of abundance. Spiritual abundance to run the race. How wrong we’ve got here in the United States. I read the comments prior to this one and my heart sank. I was horrified to hear that children this poor lady had to see this happen to her children because of selfishness and ignorance on the parent’s part. That is Christianity by name only.

      • Based on the previous commentary, this is apparently a prosperity gospel believer instead of a faith believer. All one needs to do is count the times the reference to “abundance” is lauded. It goes like this: Give 10% of your income to the preacher and he will promise you will receive abundance. i.e. riches, worldly goods. Prosperity gospel preachers in point of fact don’t care if you are saved or not, so long as keep the money coming in.

    • yes this unfortunately happened to me once but i have a few friends who are christians who keep to themselves and respect me

    • Dane Hollinger says on

      That’s only the tip of the iceberg Thom….I lived with men and women exactly like that in a “christian discipleship” house. The neighbor’s pretty much avoided us.

    • I was raised in the church my whole life and still attend church regularly. I read the comments on here and read them elsewhere that pretty much say that non-Christians do not want Christianity and they do not want it “shoved down their throats.” I don’t know anyone who shoves Christianity because, quite frankly, non-Christians make it very clear they don’t want to hear it and become more offended if you try. I think part of this stems from us being told and from reading the Bible that we are supposed to witness to those who don’t believe. God doesn’t want us to walk away from a non-believer when we can share what he has done in our lives and hope that they, too, want to believe in God. It is not a fairy tale to those of us who believe so we are excited to share the story. We have now all become afraid to share because of the anger towards Christians for sharing. We are afraid to use the wrong words, language and share our faith. Non-believers want us to be quiet but God wants us to share. That’s a rock and a hard spot. Maybe by living our lives more in the way that makes believing in God more appealing, we can share that way.

    • S CARTER says on

      Yeap ….all the above is certainly true …….I am sick of the everyday Christian….pretending to be something that they are not…..at 48 I have survived a life of emmence trauma from a life of abuse…..where I now am a PTSD sufferer. I have been in, out and through countless churches where I have been confronted by Judgemental, hypocritical, self righteous, ostracious, weak, money-hungry, cowardly, arrogant and ignorant so-called Christian’s …….I have given it a sincere go, but would have been better off smacking my head against the wall………No wonder God doesn’t move and help humanity anymore …even he is sick and tired of Christian’s using his name as an excuse.

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