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Objection: Why are Christians so bad?

Updated: Mar 22

How can Christians be saved? Some of them do terrible things in the name of God.

Maybe you think some Christians are awful. You don’t see much evidence of transformation in their lives. The “fruits of the Spirit” they exhibit seem to have gone mouldy! Surely this is proof that the Christian Faith and all it teaches is false.

Some Christians are awful. I include myself in that number. I often feel like I let the side down with my behaviour. There are many dangerous, false-Christians[1] who ruin the reputation for the rest of the Church who are genuinely trying to follow Jesus earnestly. I am not condoning the horrendous evils that have been perpetuated by Christ’s supposed 'followers' in the past, and sadly still in the present. But I would say don’t be surprised if the Church is full of the worst kind of sinners – that’s who Jesus said He came for. He came for the sick, not the healthy[2]. Surely it’s obvious that the sick take longer to recover -- they have a greater journey of transformation to walk.

Those with a greater debt to pay (although paid in full by Jesus) may have many issues to work through from a lifetime of harmful choices and the lasting effects that those habits can have on the brain. For example, alcoholics often have a shrunken hippocampus. This part of the brain is vital for learning and memory. When an alcoholic thus tries to learn new habits and overcome their addiction, they can struggle to maintain this due to the permanent brain changes they have sustained. Jesus can perform full healing miracles but for many people, life transformation is a long, slow, painful process. We all have hope however that no matter what low point we start from when we come to Christ, we can “be confident of this, that he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.[3]

You should expect to see the Church full of people with issues because that was who Jesus said he came for[4]. Or maybe what He meant by this was that they would be the ones who would most readily accept His offer, for they see it as the best news ever[5]. A messed-up person like me gets to have the slate wiped clean – yes please! I know there is no other way I could save myself. However, Jesus didn’t mean that the healthy don’t require His sacrifice to enter the Kingdom. In fact, they might be on more dangerous ground because they live under the illusion that they don’t owe the universe anything – they think it is the other way around, the universe owes them a debt[6]! The cost for their lives still stands and they don’t even notice[7].

Sinners with genuine faith can transform and glow ever the more brightly because of it. For example:

  • John Newton[8] was a slave-trader running ships between the UK and Africa in the 1700s. He campaigned for slavery to end after he converted to Christianity and wrote the famous hymn, Amazing Grace (“that saved a wretch like me”).

  • Nicky Cruz was a New York gangster (Warlord of the Mau Maus) in the 1950s who was converted to Christianity by a street preacher called David Wilkerson[9]. Cruz threatened to kill this street preacher before turning to Jesus. He later went to the police and turned in all his guns and knives. The police said if they had seen him approaching the station, they probably would have shot him down – he was that notorious! Cruz became a preacher and converted more of the Mau Maus to Christianity.

  • St. Paul, persecuted the early Church by tracking down secret Christians who converted from Judaism, so they could be stoned to death. He converted to Christianity when He met the resurrected Jesus on the Road to Damascus[10] in an amazing religious experience which left him blind for three days, before he was healed by a Christian he was travelling to arrest! Paul went on to face imprisonment, stonings, floggings, shipwrecks and a beheading for preaching the message of Jesus.

  • David Wood[11] (born 1976) was an atheist in his youth, and had run-ins with the law by breaking into homes. At age 18 he attempted to kill his dad by smashing his head with a hammer. Due to his anti-social personality disorder he claimed that morality and societal rules were “beneath him”. He was sentenced to ten years in prison where he met a Christian inmate (Randy) who led him to Jesus. Randy had been in the US army and committed crimes during his time in service. He became a Christian and decided to turn himself over to the police to account for his crimes that he would have gotten away with. David Wood is now married, preaching and teaches Muslims about Christianity.

Is this more evidence that God is real and that the Holy Spirit performs miracles today? Jesus said that “[we] will do even greater works than [His miracles][12] which seems impossible. Jesus is God. How can we expect to do greater works than calming storms and feeding 5000 people from a few bread rolls? Obviously God can do miracles, but when the Holy Spirit fills repentant sinners then drug addicts can get clean; thieves can get honest jobs; and traffickers like John Newton can campaign to end the practise they used to do. Maybe these are the "greater things" Jesus referred to -- lifelong sinners doing the works of God. That is the power of Jesus’ cross. Anyone can transform!


It’s such an offensive idea!

We are a society that gets offended easily. Many followers turned away from Jesus during his ministry because his teachings were too hard to stomach[13]. At one point only the Twelve disciples remained and Jesus said “are you going to leave too?[14] Peter replied, “where would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life”.

You have to accept that you possess a dark-side (similar idea to Carl Jung’s ‘Shadow’ theory); you have to accept help; and you have to live in eternity with potentially the worst kind of people (but now redeemed) because the offer is open to anyone who genuinely accepts. Many would far rather earn their own way there, thank you very much! They’d like God to praise their righteousness and reward them accordingly. The dwarves in Narnia’s ‘The Last Battle’[15] didn’t want to be taken in by this trickery either. They shut their eyes from the greatest offer ever given, because the only small cost was to accept it in humility, which they despised. Don’t miss it because of pride – that’s what Satan was cast out of Heaven for[16].


References [1] Matt 7:15, 1 John 4:1 [2] Mark 2:17 [3] Phil 1:6 [4] Luke 5:32 [5] Luke 7:47 [6] Luke 18:9-14 [7] Ecc 7:20, Romans 3:10, 1 John 1:8, Romans 3:23-24 [8] Watch the incredible story in the film ‘Amazing Grace’ (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454776/ ) [9] Read their testimonies in their books: ‘Run, baby, Run!’ by Nicky Cruz and ‘The Cross & The Switchblade’ by David Wilkerson [10] Acts 9:9-19 [11] Watch his testimony here: https://youtu.be/WkeHRu6wLkg [12] John 14:12 [13] John 6:60-66 [14] John 6:67-69 [15] Final Narnia Book, C S Lewis, The Last Battle [16] Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-18, Job 41:34, Proverbs 16:18, Luke 10:17-18

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