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Longing to be great

The goal is not to be remarkable for remarkable’s sake. I don’t want to just build a purple cow empire. I want to grow the kingdom. I want see hearts bowed before King Jesus. I long to see the image of God (us) claiming the far corners of the earth for our great King. That is the type of radical greatness to which this author and this blog aspires. So, let us now turn to the objections that unbelievers – outsiders – have to Christianity. What is it that keeps unbelievers from engaging the claims of Christ. David Kinnaman, in an important research study of Mosaic and Buster outsiders (which he defines as 16-29 year olds outside of Christianity) reveals 6 major objections. Unfortunately, and this is the challenge for us, the reason many people do not engage the claims of Christ is because of his followers. As Gandhi is often quoted as saying, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Here are the six major themes (objections or points of skepticism) that Kinnaman’s research revealed (I will quote Kinnaman here and save personal interaction with them for the upcoming series of posts):

  • Hypocritical. Outsiders consider us hypocritical – saying one thing and doing another – and they are skeptical of our morally superior attitudes. They say Christians pretend to be something unreal, conveying a polished image that is not accurate. Christians think the church is only a place for virtuous and morally pure people.
  • Too focused on getting converts. Outsiders wonder if we genuinely care about them. They feel like targets rather than people. They question our motives when we try to help them “get saved,” despite the fact that many of them have already “tried” Jesus and experienced church before.
  • Antihomosexual. Outsiders say that Christians are bigoted and show disdain for gays and lesbians. They say Christians are fixated on curing homosexuals and on leveraging political solutions against them.
  • Sheltered. Christians are thought of as old-fashioned, boring, and out of touch with reality. Outsiders say we do not respond to reality in appropriately complex ways, preferring simplistic solutions and answers. We are not willing to deal with the grit and grime of people’s lives.
  • Too political. Another common perception of Christians is that we are overly motivated by a political agenda, that we promote and represent politically conservative interests and issues. Conservative Christians are often thought of as right-wingers.
  • Judgmental. Outsiders think of Christians are quick to judge others. They say we are not honest about our attitudes and perspectives about other people. They doubt that we really love people as we say we do (p. 29-30).

Now, remember, these may or may not be true and may or may not be fair representations. But they are, at least, widely held perceptions. This is not to say we compromise on truth, but maybe we need to learn how to texture truth with grace in these arenas. In the coming posts, we will explore each of them and their challenge for the church today.

Interact: Do any of these objections resonate with you? Is there one that causes you anguish or slowed (slows) your receptivity to the claims of Christ?

P.S. > Part of the reason that people object to Christ is because they are depraved, slaves to the evil one. It is not our job (we couldn’t do it if we wanted to) regenerate hearts. That is the work of God the Spirit. However, to the extent possible, the path to greatness in the kingdom requires us to be diligent and faithful, quick to learn when and where our actions and our attitudes become obstacles.


One Response

  1. […] efforts? These are just a small sample of the comments on the site, but did you notice the 6 themes uncovered by unChristian surfacing? Did you notice that many of these people used to be […]

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