A local Pagan religious leader in my community recently referred to Christianity as “narrow-minded,” “exclusive,” and “divisory.”[i] This particular leader went on to say that mainstream religions teach “one book one way” and suggests this is why people are leaving churches in a search for unconditional love.
The accusations this particular leader made are becoming more and more commonplace. Christianity (and Christians) is often type cast as narrow-minded and exclusive. Are these accurate charges? Perhaps the comments of this pagan leader provide us with the opportunity for some self-examination.
Is Christianity “narrow-minded” or “exclusive”? When considering this question, it is important to differentiate between Christianity and Christians. Certainly, there is nothing exclusive about Christianity (or the Savior it is named for). The Bible teaches “God so love the world He gave His one and only Son so that everyone who believes will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God so loved the world. What is meant by the world if not everyone who lives in it? God loved everyone so much He gave His one and only Son. Why was this sacrifice necessary? Because we all have “sinned and fell short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And the “wages of that sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We are all born with a death sentence hanging over our heads and Christ went to the cross to serve that death sentence for each and every one of us. There’s nothing exclusive about the Gospel. People are only excluded by the way they respond to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The great Charles Spurgeon wrote that Christ’s work on the cross was sufficient to save the whole world yet effective only for the elect. Christ went to the cross to die for our sins and we have the opportunity to respond accordingly. Everyone is included in Christ’s offer of grace. It is our response that dictates whether we are excluded or not.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not exclusive. It is easy, however, to find Christians who live as if it is. Christians are imperfect and there are times we fail to mimic the love and grace of Jesus Christ. This is regrettable. However, the Bible clearly teaches we are to behave differently, “Conduct yourselves honorably among the unbelievers, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). As Christians, our behavior should represent Christ well. Our behavior should make Christ appealing to unbelievers and serve to help usher in their salvation rather than hinder it. It is a question believers must ask themselves, “Do I live my life in a manner that’s in accord with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross?” Many times, Christians engage Pagans, Muslims, Homosexuals, and even other Christians in a way that fails to recognize that the Savior we worship died for them.
We should live our lives in a manner that reflects Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. That way, when people accuse us of being “divisory,” “exclusive,” and “narrow-minded” their charges will be unfounded.
I’m not saying we should compromise Biblical truth to appease the beliefs of others. However, we can “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and live our lives in a way that makes Christ attractive to unbelievers. Let Christ be their stumbling stone (1 Peter 2:8), not our behavior.
[i] The comments were made in the comment section of an article in the Chillicothe Gazette concerning a local Pagan Pride Celebration – http://www.chillicothegazette.com/comments/article/20120924/NEWS01/209240301/Local-pagans-come-together-celebrate-educate-others