Most of us have had at least one encounter with a Christian that was less than pleasant. In fact, that person may have been rude, arrogant, belittling, or a straight up jerk. As Christians, we proclaim to believe in and follow a God of love, so when we run into unloving Christians, it can be unsettling and unexpected. So why are some Christians jerks anyway?
Obviously, there is not one clear-cut answer to this question. Heck, if there was, I wouldn’t have much to share about this topic. But enough people have had encounters with Christians that have left a bad taste in their mouth, that I thought it might worth addressing so here we go. Keep in mind, not every “Christian jerk” will be explained by one of these reasons, but these reasons probably explain a fair amount of unloving behavior.
First, We’re all Sinners
All people, even (and maybe especially) Christians, have a record of mistakes, regrets, and unkind actions. This is not because we want to be jerks, but sin is weaved into the fabric of our being, and sometimes it shows. Romans 3:23 reminds us that “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” This means that even though Christians are trying to be more like Christ each day, we are still capable of doing hurtful things to others. Life happens and we’re having a bad day, or we’re stressed out, or we’re going through a storm, and we take it out on those around us. We make mistakes, and we recognize that we are not perfect. (Isn’t that the whole point of seeking out God’s forgiveness in the first place?)
Second, Not all Christians are at the Same Point in Their Walk
I think I’m guilty of forgetting this truth too often. It’s so easy to assume that once someone dedicates their life to Christ, they should immediately change all their ways to become more loving and more like Jesus. But for many, old habits die hard. After making the decision to become a Christian, it takes time to grasp the depths of God’s commandments, change lifestyle patterns, and surround yourself with like-minded friends. Again, Christians who have just turned their life around may still have areas in their life that need working on (and really, don’t we all?). Plus, it takes practice to be loving toward others, and I know that for myself, there are times that I still struggle to be loving, even after 12 years of being a Christian.
Last, Some Christians Just Don’t Get It
Accepting God’s forgiveness and trusting him with your life (i.e. becoming a Christian) for many people is an exciting and life-changing experience. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the case for everyone. Some (maybe most) “Christians jerks” act the way they do because they are only half-hearted Christians. These are the folks that show up to church, punch the “religious clock,” and then return to their old ways. These Christians have no real interest in making changes in their life, or to be a devout follower of Christ, but they are interested in escaping the fires of Hell. So, they do the bare minimum to get out of eternal consequences, but they still have the lifestyle of a non-Christian. When we think about the implications here, we can’t be all that surprised when we run into one of these Christians and have an unpleasant experience.
So, What Can we do About Christian Jerks?
Christians- The biggest thing we can do is pray for them. Go to God on their behalf, and ask Him to intervene in their life and change their hearts. We can also talk with Christian jerks in a loving way, and see what’s really going on with them. As Christians, we should be extending grace toward others, even if they are jerks.
As a measure of protection to keep yourself from becoming a Christian jerk, make sure that you are seeking God daily, and spend time talking with Him each day. It’s always amazing to me how spending time in His word will change my sinner-prone perspective, and soften my harsh thoughts of others.
Non-Christians- Don’t let Christian jerks be your only encounter with Jesus. I would urge you to seek God out on your own before deciding to write Him off completely. I’ve heard of so many people who have met a Christian, and then decided they wanted no part of Christianity. This saddens me so deeply, for so many reasons. Please understand that no Christian is a perfect person, so there is no way that any Christian can perfectly represent the unending love that God has for all people.