What Not to Do When a Fellow Christian Embarrasses The Rest of Us
May 7, 2015 by Samuel James
It happens. It’s happened before, it’s probably happening right now somewhere, and it will happen again. People who take the name of Christ and identify with His church are going to say or do something so inexplicable, so ridiculous, and so embarrassing that the rest of us will either shake our heads in disbelief or groan in frustration. Sometimes it’s something silly. Sometimes it’s more serious, and even blasphemous. It happens. There’s no use or honesty in pretending it doesn’t.
Sometimes it won’t even be necessary to respond, but other times, people around us need to know that this particular person does not speak or act on behalf of the church. Discernment and common sense will usually illuminate when that kind of response is necessary. When it is, I’d like to offer a simple list of some “Do Nots.”
When a fellow Christian embarrasses you and the Church:
1) Don’t make excuses or minimize it to make it go away. The Scripture expects Christians to live and love differently because of the Spirit inside them.
2) Don’t use the person’s error as leverage to draw attention to how not like that you are.
3) Don’t apologize to the mass, outraged public for the person (if someone is personally and individually affected, that’s a different matter). Doing so is tempting but is almost always done for the wrong reasons (see #2).
4) Don’t have the same kind of response as those who scoff at Christ and the church. You might agree with Christianity’s critics that ______ was a horrible thing to say, but you most certainly don’t agree with them about why (an offfense against the truth and/or those made in God’s image) or how to make things right (repent and seek Gospel reconciliation).
5) Don’t talk in collective terms about “why the Church always” or “why can’t Christians ever.” It’s not true, firstly, and secondly, it can make you stumble on the next point.
6) Don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER even passively, suggestively, or indirectly legitimize or rationalize bitterness and suspicion towards the church. If someone says to you, “This is why I don’t go to church,” they might think they’re telling the truth, but they’re not. They don’t love the church because they don’t love Jesus. Saying, “Yes, you have a point, church can be so frustrating” feels like empathy, but it’s not. It’s self-preserveration at the cost of slandering Christ’s body.
7) Don’t start a “watchdog blog.” Seriously, don’t ever.
8) Don’t read the comments.
9) Don’t leave a comment.
10) Don’t ever forget: No human being is truly incapable of anything. Remember Augustine: “Despair not: One of the thieves was saved. Presume not: One of them was not.”