Why aren’t Christians sometimes not Nicer than Non-Christians?
Jesus said that if you put yourself in His hands, if you believe in Him as Savior and Lord, that He will change you and make you perfect, as He is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) Jesus promises to cleanse us and makes us fit for heaven. Of course, that will take time. The change will not be completed in this lifetime. Death is an important part of the treatment.
But after death we will be perfect! We will be changed! We won’t be just nice people, but we will be new people! Scripture says that “We will be like Him (Jesus) for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2) We will be like Jesus! Can that be? Can we even imagine what all this means?
We will be in heaven in God’s presence. And no sin can exist in God’s presence. (Habakkuk 1:13) Not only will all sin be banished from heaven, but everything bad that happens now because of sin’s grip on this world will finally be gone forever.
Since Jesus is working on us Christians now toward the goal of making us perfect, why then aren’t we Christians often not nicer than non-Christians? Even if we are not perfect yet, shouldn’t Christ shine through our lives for others to see? We can see Christ shining through the lives of many Christians, but why not all?
When we Christians behave badly, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world. The non-Christian is right to judge Christianity by its results. Jesus told us to judge by results. He told us that a tree is known by its fruit. (Luke 6:44, Matthew 12:33)
But we are also commanded not to judge one another. That job belongs to God. Only God can see the true picture. We see through a glass darkly. (1 Corinthians 13:12) What can we know of other people’s souls – their temptations and struggles and their personal demons? Miss Smith who is a Christian may have an unkinder tongue than Bill Jones, who claims to be an atheist. Why isn’t Miss Smith, the Christian, nicer than Bill Jones, the non-Christian?
Bill Jones’ was born with his placid temper and friendly disposition. He inherited these healthy traits and he was raised in a loving functional family. So much of his niceness is God’s gift to him. Bill Jones is quite satisfied with his bank account and his sound nerves. And he’s proud of his intelligence, health, popularity and good upbringing. Why drag God into his life when he feels he has it all? He feels that his niceness is all his own doing! He doesn’t recognize his need for Christ. Scripture says that it is hard for those who are ‘rich’ in this sense to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 19:23-24)
It’s a very different story for the nasty people – the little, low, warped, timid, thin-blooded, neurotic people. Or the sensual, unbalanced, mentally ill people - if they make any attempt at living a good life, they quickly learn that they need help. It is Christ or nothing for them.
They are the lost sheep that Jesus especially came to find, I believe. The ordinary peasants, without education, the poor, the unwashed – they were mainly the ones who were attracted to Jesus when He walked the hills of Galilee. The ones He blessed and healed when He lived on earth as a man. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for hanging out with the ‘awful set’ and of course modern Pharisees still judge Him because of that. ‘If there were anything in Christianity those ‘awful’ people would not be Christians.’
Our Miss Smith is one of those ‘awful’ people. Heredity and natural causes working in a world spoiled by centuries of sin have produced in Miss Smith the narrow mind and jangled nerves which account for most of her nastiness. Also, Miss Smith’s father was never there for her when she was a child, and her mother was addicted to drugs and neglected and abused her. Miss Smith endured a sad and dysfunctional upbringing.
But God intends, in His own good time, to set that part of Miss Smith right. Someday Christ will change us and clothe us in His righteousness. Scripture promises that Miss Smith and all believers will be victorious through Christ on the other side of this life! (Revelations 20 and 21)
Scripture says: “Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible. And we shall be changed. For this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality. Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 57) It doesn’t get any better than that!
Most of the ideas here were taken from C.S. Lewis’s book, “Mere Christianity”