Those Embarrassing Christians

By pastorbillwalden

I am a follower of Jesus, and because of that, I get lumped into a large pool of people that go by various names.  They are called Evangelicals.  They are called Conservatives.  They are called Homophobes.

They are called Christians.Head in Hands

A lot of what these people do embarrasses me, angers me, and leaves me shaking my head.  I do not resonate with most of what they do.  I do not prioritize life the way that they do.  In fact, I actually hate some of the things that are done in Jesus’ name.  I do not associate with them in many of their activities, and yet, because of a common shared faith in the person of Jesus, I am united with them in a bond that will never pass away.

The bottom line is this: though I do not sympathize or empathize with many (called) Christians, I am united with them by a shared faith and a mutual indwelling of God’s Spirit.

I cannot dismiss myself from them simply because they do things that I think are foolish.  To do so would mean that my valuation of them is based upon a philosophical agreement, rather than the bond of Christ.  To dismiss them would be to value my opinion over the truth of what Jesus prayed for and what Paul the Apostle declared:  We are one in Christ.

I must be willing to be guilty by association to those who would paint me into the same corner as others with whom I disagree on many levels.

But this is the lesser of things to consider.  To many, Jesus is guilty by associating with us.

When Christians do stupid things, He gets blamed, maligned, and mocked, yet He never disassociates Himself from us.  When I do foolish things, He never turns away from me.

Jesus is willing to be mocked, blamed, misunderstood, and mis-characterized by the masses that see the foolish things that His followers do and say, often in His name.

If you are a Christ follower, it’s not about you, it’s about Him.  Do not divorce yourself from those whom Jesus indwells, simply because they do things that embarrass you.  Following Jesus isn’t all about you finding people that agree with you on every point.  Following Jesus is to recognize the Church Universal, and to love her in spite of all her failings.

Though it isn’t right, Jesus is willing to be guilty by association. How about you?

11 Responses so far

Just wait until the “follower of Jesus” category has a little time…

Thank you for keeping the main things the main things … it’s all about Jesus …. and it’s always amazing that He’s willing to associate with sinful people like us … God help us be faithful to Him! – thank you for your faithfulness, pastor

This got posted by one of my friends on facebook and I read it this morning. Let me say immediately that the purpose of this comment is NOT criticism. I have simply been trying to get my head around the purpose and meaning of this thought.
I recognize that the Lord gets misrepresented continually just as you have brought up. I also realize that it is our faith in Christ and spiritual rebirth that makes us family. What is unclear to me is who this is really addressed to. What threw me off was when you mentioned dimissing yourself from them and not to divorce ourselves from them. Forgive me for asking, I just don’t know what you are actually getting at.
Also what is the scriptural basis of the statement that Jesus is willing to be guilty by association? To my way of thinking having the mind of Christ is to be associated with Him, and our association with each other should be based on that, not the characterizations you identified (along with many other incorrect views that people hold regarding what it means to be a Christian). I would reference 1 Corinthians 2:12-16.

Hi R Keith….I’ll do my best to answer you.

The article is addressed to Christians who want to disassociate with the church or with other Christians because they disagree with how those other Christians live.

I see those sentiments all over social media regularly. Statements like, “I love Jesus, but I can’t stand His church,”, etc. So the article is aimed at those who have jettisoned the church and other Believers, or who are tempted to do so.

The article is also written to Christians who don’t want to do that, and perhaps needed someone to articulate their thoughts and feelings, and give them a voice.

There are times when I feel like I don’t want to be grouped in with other Christians, whether real or supposed Christians. During the David Koresh incident in Waco in the early ’90’s, I caught flack for that because I was a pastor working a secular job, and was working with unbelievers every day.

Some Calvary Chapel pastors are very intolerant fellows, and I get lumped in with them. I have actually had people tell me this: “We know all about you…you re on of those Calvary guys”. This was coming from people that didn’t know me at all, but assumed they did, because they knew some Calvary pastor somewhere, and figured we were all the same.

So there is sometimes a sentiment to not want to be automatically associated with people that don’t represent who I am. I want me to know me, not to judge me according to someone else’s life.

Finally, I don’t have a verse that comes to mind regarding Jesus being guilty by association with us, but it stands to reason that some people think that way. Haven’t you ever heard someone say, “If that is what you Christians are like, then I don;t want your Jesus”?

Some verses do come to mind. I don;t have time to work them out, but you’ll get the idea.

Romans 2:24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

1 Timothy 6:1 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.

Titus 2:3-5 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—4that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Clearly, believers can live in such a negative way, that people blaspheme the name of God. God puts Himself “at risk” in a way, by allowing some of us to take His name.

My trajectory of thinking is as you suggested at the end of your comment. We shouldn’t let people’s actions and opinions cause us to pull away from Jesus or His church, but sadly, some Christians do that very thing.

The point I sought to make was that was a wrong way of thinking, and that Christians ought to ignore any personal struggle with being misunderstood, and continue to follow Jesus.

I hope this has clarified some things.

Thank you for your response.
I’m still not sure I completely understand, but I appreciate your making the effort.
One thing that sticks in my mind is that our identification with Christ is through what we believe. Our love for Him is what should motivate our behavior but behavior is not what identifies us as Christians.
The idea that we should be willing to be guilty by association is what is throwing me. I just don’t get it.

Have you ever been upset or embarrassed by the way other Christians have acted?

If yes, has there ever been in you a desire to not be seen in that same light? To not be identified as one who thinks and acts as others that misrepresent Jesus?

Have you ever read or heard anybody say something about Christians that isn’t applicable to you?

Of course the answer to all of those questions is yes, everyday.
As I have been chewing on this I think what is bothering me is that our identification is in Christ, not in the behavior or misbehavior of any who claim to believe. So when you say that Jesus is guilty by association with those who misrepresent Him I have a problem. I don’t think Jesus identifies Himself with us, I think we are to identify with Him.
I also think that when people say things like, “I love Jesus, but I can’t stand His church”, they have missed the whole point of what they should believe about their relationship to Him. After all one does not join His church like one does a club, but one is born into His church.
I find that there is much confusion about what and who the Church is.
I apologize if I seem to be making much ado about nothing but I am sincere in my efforts to understand what ministers of the Gospel are saying these days.
I think as believers we are charged with proclaiming the Gospel. But if you ask many of the “churched” they don’t even know what that means.
After all this I think what you are saying is that people should not leave a local fellowship because it seems imperfect to them. And that those remaining in those fellowships should not stop loving them if they do so.
And we should not be offended if people falsely accuse us, but remember that Jesus is falsely accused and continues to love.
Am I close?

Keith, thanks for the respectful dialogue.

Your final statements in your last paragraph are exactly what I am trying to communicate.

You are more than close with those statements. You are dead on. Thanks.

It is how I feel when the WBC people are all up with their protests and spewing hate in guise of Christianity. It is how I feel when celebrity pastors can’t keep their hands out of the tills or their pants on. When Christians seem to think that protesting and yelling and screaming will ever change a person’s heart. Its how I feel when there is more infighting and squalling over semantics and minor points of theology than compassion and looking for ways to serve and build up the kingdom of saints. It is how I feel most every day.

I know I should find a church and just go. But I really can’t seem to find a place where I Christ in the midst of the people. But I will keep looking.

Yo Bill!

How the heck are you?

When I heard about the quake the other day I got worried and hoped you were OK. I searched and could not find your email address or phone anywhere… so here I am!

Are you and Debbie OK?

Wanted to thank you again for your hospitality several years ago.

I’ll be sure to drop by again next time I’m in the area…

Hope you are well….


Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for novice blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

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