Can a Christian Be Mean and Cruel?
I remember the day I received this long text message from someone accusing me of not understanding someone they were related to. This person was choosing to defend the choices of their relative and sided with them on why they did what they did. While I can appreciate a loved one looking out for another one, what I did not like was the content and delivery of the email. It was not filled with love, but rather it was filled with accusing and mean remarks. After reading the email, I remember feeling angry and hurt over what was said and the statements that were made against me. But I think the worst part for me was that the person who hurt me was a Christian. Yes, you read that right, the person who was mean to me was a Jesus Christ follower and lover of God.
When I think about a Christian person who is mean and yet says they are a follower of Jesus Christ, I think it’s an oxymoron. They don’t mix. Just like how oil and water don’t mix, being a Christian and mean just don’t and they are not supposed to mix.
Yet, why is it that Christian people can be mean? Here are a few thoughts:
- They don’t spend time with God. It’s hard to give people what you don’t have. When we spend time with God our day will be better and we will handle whatever life gives us. When we don’t, our day will be a mess. But when we let God pour into our lives by reading his word in the morning, praying, and journaling with him it gives us time to breathe and listen for God’s voice. That’s the voice we want to hear during the day and it’s the Spirit of God who helps us to react better and loving to the situation in front of us. But if we don’t let God influence our minds, thoughts, mouth, and actions, then how can we give something we don’t have?
- They choose to live by opinion versus the truth of God. This goes back to point one. If we don’t spend time with God’s word then how are we going to know what is right? We won’t, and what happens is we will let our life be dictated by our feelings, emotions, and opinions and that is dangerous. This then shows up in our behaviour. We end up yelling at people. Fostering unforgiveness to those who hurt us. We are too critical and at times judgmental. We walk around with this badge saying to people this is “just who I am”. When really, it’s completely embarrassing to the Christian community and even more so to God! Instead of being loving, we are downright mean. So how do we combat this? Study and know God’s word. For example, Philippians 2: 14, says, “don’t complain”. Or 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 says, “give thanks.” Or Colossians 3:13 says, “forgive”. We need to learn the word of God and apply it!
- They don’t have someone model Christian love in their life. When I was doing my doctorate program, I read a book that said, “more is caught than taught.” How true this statement is. What the writer was saying is people mimic what they see, not what they are told. That is true in the Christian community. We are motivated to love because we understand the depth of Jesus’ love through his actions and sacrifice. But if we grew up in a home, where our parents or the people around us got easily angered, complained, criticized, were addicted to things, lied, etc, then we can also reflect that same behaviour in our relationships and with people. Here is the worst part, we might not be aware that we are doing it because we have allowed it to be our default behaviour. Then when someone we love tells us our behaviour is wrong, instead of growing some of us choose to be offended and ignore the opportunity to change. Find people in your life that you love and respect and learn to mimic their behaviour and spend time with them. This will help influence the way you interact with others.
- They are more interested in being right than loving. There is a scripture in the Bible which says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:24). Wow! This is a powerful scripture which many Christians forget. We are called not to be quarrelsome, and yet we let our flesh (sinful desire) get the best of us instead of letting the Holy Spirit lead us. We would rather fight with our spouse, kids, friends, and co-workers about unimportant matters to prove we are right rather than be loving and kind. Now I am not saying we shouldn’t tell the truth and say it. We must tell people that lying is wrong or stealing is not right. But when we would rather be right about matters in life -that have no eternal impact on people or shows no love to others- than to have peace in our life, we are choosing to ruin our relationships and presenting ourselves to be mean than loving.
- They take their cues from the world instead of God. We do this subconsciously. We don’t realize it but what see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and let drift into our minds affects our lives. If we let curse words become normal to hear then we can let them slip from our mouths. When we see people argue, then we will argue too. When we see people physically, emotionally, and mentally abusing others, then we will do it too. That’s why God’s word says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4: 23).
At the end of the day, is it our desire to be the best representative of Christ so that others will see this love and be drawn to him? Or are we more comfortable looking like the world in our actions and words, which then has little or no impact because we blend in with the crowd? Jesus said it best, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:33-34).
If the world doesn’t see Christians showing love to one another, how will they ever know God’s amazing love?