Gabe Lyons came up with a crazy idea to actually study people’s opinion of Christianity. He wanted more than anecdotal stories, he wanted some evidence. To do this he enlisted the help of David Kinnaman of the Barna Group. Their research led to a book entitled unChristian.
unChristian has had a profound impact on me in a short period of time. It’s really shaped the way I look at interacting with the world. It’s made me more sensitive to how I talk about God, and how I interact with people who don’t share my faith.
Some people are looking for an excuse not to believe in God, and when we set a poor example, we’re only supplying that excuse. But I’m not sure there’s much we could do about that. If you’re motivated to reject God, you’ll find a reason.
What’s concerns me more are the people who are open to God, but because of our arrogance, pride, and general unpleasantness, we push them away. And this is the thrust of unChristian. The book shows just how strong of an impact we have on “outsiders” (their term for people “outside” of the church). It’s filled with information, statistics (mostly percentages), and a ton of ‘hard truth’.
As I was reading it I couldn’t help but relate this back to my own life. The book lays out six areas where Christianity is seen as unfavorable to the world.
2. too “salvation” oriented
5. too political
Too many of those areas touch close to home. I’m often too quick to judge, and too slow to listen. I’m quick to criticize, and slow to act. I’m quick to point out flaws in others, and ignore my own mistakes.
And each time I do that, I run the risk of pushing someone away. That’s the message I take away from this book. That’s what I want to remember as I go into the world.
One of the things that drives me (and therefore R3) is my own faith journey. I had to learn who God was the hard, lonely, and painful way. And once I did, I found myself asking, why no one told me who Jesus really was. Not the hippy version. Not the wimpy version. But the bold, dangerous, courageous, loving, and forgiving Jesus.
Sometimes I send an unChristian message without realizing it. And that’s something I need to find a way to change. I can come up with a lot of excuses why – I’m tired, I’m lazy, it’s too hard, it’s too dangerous. But are those really good enough? Are those excuses Jesus would have used?
I can’t always control what another person hears when I speak. But I can be more aware of the message I send. And how I act.
As a Christian I should run to someone who is suffering, not holding back because they don’t believe what I do.