I recently read some articles (here and here) that surveyed people who stopped going to church. Their answers about why they chose to stop going to church revealed a trend. While there is no doubt that Jesus is a “stumbling block,” as his teaching will naturally turn some people away, the vast majority of the people who stop going to church do so because Christians in the church were acting unlike Jesus.
Over the years we’ve heard this before, right? One hundred years ago Ghandi, the famous leader of India, said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Take a moment and consider what Jesus must have been like. Even for atheists or believers in other faiths, it is hard to argue against the idea that Jesus was amazing. He was filled with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, peace, and truth. No wonder crowds numbering in the thousands flocked to hear him. I’m sure the miraculous healings also helped his popularity soar. But there is no doubt that Jesus was compelling. Not just the miracles, and not just the teaching, but how he lived his life was astounding. He was not in a hurry. He cared deeply about all people. He practiced what he preached. He lived a consistent life. He was hilarious, sincere, fun and serious when he needed to be. He was selfless.
Now consider what people see when they observe us. Can it be said that we are drawing people to Jesus because our lives look more and more like his? I’m not suggesting that you have to be perfectly like Jesus. I’m getting at what we’ve heard the Apostle Paul writing about in Colossians 3, that we are people who have been raised with Christ to new life, so we seek with our hearts and we ponder with our minds the way of the Jesus, which is sometimes called a Kingdom mindset. Last week with Colossians 3:5-11, we began a two-part miniseries in which Paul describes how to have that Kingdom mindset, using the metaphor of laundry. In that passage, part one was “take off the dirty clothes” of the old sinful nature. This week in part two is “put on the clean clothes” of the new way of Jesus.
I invite you to open a Bible to Colossians 3:12-17, read it and check back on Monday as we begin to discuss it.