The world is watching Christians and the Church with skepticism and even cynicism. Truth is, we sometimes earn their doubt by how we treat each other.
One need not look too far to see that sometimes Christians (myself included) forget three key aspects of being a Christ follower: truth, love, and improvement.
Christians Sometimes Forget Truth
Jesus said that he is the truth (John 14:6). Paul and the author of Hebrews instructed us to hold on to the truth (Tit 1:9; Heb 4:14).
We sometimes forget that. When we do, it’s generally in one of two ways: (1) we make small issues into major ones or (2) we sacrifice truth for popularity or pride.
For whatever reason, Christians seem to enjoy elevating secondary and tertiary issues to the level of core gospel truth, creating unneeded and unhealthy division. Issues such as how to baptize (a “second-order” issue) or when the rapture will occur (a “third-order” issue) are sometimes treated as just as critical as the divinity of Jesus (a “first-order” issue).
Not only do Christians make theological mountains out of doctrinal molehills, we sometimes also abandon truth in order to be popular or to please ourselves. When we water down or distort the gospel to make it more palatable to the lost world, we sacrifice truth. When we place greater focus on packing the pews than growing God’s kingdom, we sacrifice truth.
Not only do we forget truth, . . .
Christians Sometimes Forget Love
We are commanded to love God (Deut 6:5). We are also commanded to love our neighbors (Lev 19:18). This includes loving fellow believers (John 15:12), loving those in the world (Luke 10:25-37), and even those we dislike or who cause us harm (Matt 5:44).
Love surpasses all things, including spiritual gifts, good works, and great faith (1 Cor 13:1-3). If we don’t have love for people, then we cannot rightly claim to love God (1 John 3:1-18).
When we have the capability to help others, but choose not to, we do not love. When we verbally assault, insult, or judge others, we do not love. When we fail to serve others, but put ourselves first, we do not love. When we bicker and fight over needless, small things, we do not love.
In addition to truth and love, . . .
Christians Sometimes Forget Improvement
What do I mean by “improvement”? Improvement refers to maturing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically as a follower of Jesus through discipleship (1 Pet 2:1-3; 2 Tim 2:2).
In order to grow, we need to gain knowledge and wisdom. This requires more than obtaining knowledge about the Bible, theology, and ministry; it also means recognizing our mistakes, repenting of our sins, and making the necessary changes.
We are almost always open to learning new information. However, we too often reject critique, and sometimes attack the critic.
We will never improve unless we know where we need to improve. It’s not un-Christian or unloving to offer evaluations, commentary, or humor/entertainment (though they can be offered devoid of love, in which case, see above). Rather, we should welcome such things and use them to grow and improve ourselves and our work.
None of us are perfect. Although we are saved by God’s grace, we still make mistakes and sin. The good news is God forgives those who repent. One of the sins we sometimes commit is we forget truth, love, and improvement.
These three things are vital to the Christian’s life. We need to hold fast to the truth, show love to others, and seek to become more like Jesus each moment of each day. We’ll stumble along the way, but when we do, our Christian brothers and sisters are there – hopefully – to help us get back up and return to the path Jesus has set before us.
Every Christian is on a journey. Let’s go on that journey with Jesus together.