Matthew 5:46-47 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
I have heard a fallacy that seems to be common among those both in the Christian world and outside of the Christian world. The fallacy is that to be Christian is to be “nice”. Now, I am not saying to be Christian is to avoid being nice. I am not saying that as a Christian, I do not practice being nice. What I am saying is that nice is not a pre-requisite to being Christian.
This passage also triggers in me this fallacy that all Christians are to be nice all the time. To be human and not always treat others nicely is somehow unchristian. Now, to be mean and purposefully rude would be a bad witness to my faith. That’s not what I am advocating here. What really bothers me is the corner of nicety that I as a Christian have been painted into.
For example, I have worked in a Christian School for most of my career. When we compete in sports, we are many times accused of being unchristian because our kids, coaches, and parents show emotion in the midst of a competition. Where does it say that Christians cannot be competitive and emotional? Obviously, we do not want to bear a poor witness to Christianity, but some of what we are being accused of is simply competition and emotion.
Another area of accusation is in the area of a person being directive or assertive. My order is wrong in the drive through (again). So, I go in the food place and make note that this is not how I ordered this meal. This is assertive and directive. I did not make any accusations; I just pointed out the mistake and in some cases ask for the change to the order. There are times where I was accused of being rude. I was not aggressive. In fact I usually say, “I’m sorry, but this is…” Now, in these cases, most do not know I am a Christian. But the situation is similar in mistakes made among Christians. Being directive is often misunderstood and labelled as rude and unchristian.
However, Jesus was directive. When I read through the whole of His story, I see at times where He says some things that make me want to cringe (and that is according to how I have been taught a Christian should act). There is a time to be directive and a time to show compassion. And Jesus modelled both of these for us. There were times where Jesus seemed downright harsh.
This devotional thought may seem more like a rant. However, some thought needs to be put into how we present ourselves as Christians. To put on the nice mask and deny what I feel is dangerous and veers from living in truth. Obviously, I do not want to sin in how I handle myself in these situations. But, I am not going to walk on eggshells either. At times I have heard said to me, “That wasn’t very ‘Christian’” about an action I took. If, I have not sinned or misrepresented Jesus in some way; then I usually speak this statement: “Define ‘Christian’ for me (Which in and of itself is a directive question). I think as Christians, we need not be painted into a corner of someone else’s definition of how we live out or faith.
1. How has this landed with you today?
2. What do you disagree with in this thought?
3. What do you agree with in this thought?
4. How has your Christian world been shaped by this philosophy of “nice”?
5. Pay attention this week on how those outside of Christianity view how we should act. Also pay attention to how “Church people” view this philosophy of “nice”. Pay attention to your reaction.
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