Becoming a Christ follower is the most important decision we will ever make in our lives. Not only do we get to spend our lives in tune to his will and love but we also get to look forward to spending an eternity in his presence! As Christians, we should be making every effort to study the Bible and letting the Holy Spirit guide us throughout our days. This way we can ensure that we are truly following the example of Christ and not the false misconceptions that society has painted of him.
Frank Powell works as young adults minister as well as a Christian blogger on his website and various other platforms. In a recent article he wrote, he asks Christians “to think seriously about what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus” by challenging us to consider eight misconceptions about Christianity that he says Jesus would not approve of.
The first misconception is that Christians need to be nice. Powell starts by giving the example that Jesus was disrespectful to the religious leaders of the day.
“Was Jesus kind? Absolutely,” he writes. “Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. Here’s the problem, though. Niceness and kindness aren’t interchangeable.”
Powell points out that while niceness will avoid tension and try to make someone feel good about themselves, kindness will be the loving words that tells you how to live a fruitful life. His hope is that we would stop being overly sensitive and would be more truthful as Jesus was.
The second misconception is that Christians always need to say “yes.”
Though we are called to be servants, to be available for those in need and to serve in the local church, Powell warns about the weight that too many “yes” answers can start to have on our lives.
“Oftentimes, we say yes because we want to feel needed. It’s about approval, not servanthood,” he says. “Saying no to a volunteer opportunity is hard. Saying no to a toxic friendship is painful. Saying no to peer pressure, negativity, temptation and abuse, all of these are hard.”
The third misconception is that Christians need to have perfect church attendance.
When we place too high a value on never missing a church event we can get into the danger of misaligning other things that should have a high priority in our lives. Having an actual relationship with God and tending to the needs of our families should be our highest priorities.
Sometimes we confuse perfect church attendance with having a relationship with God and knowledge about who he is. As Powell writes, “God is much more concerned with the condition of your heart than the location of your butt.”
The fourth of the misconceptions is that Christians should always follow the rules.
It can be easy to fall into this misconception as we walk the Christian life of trying to do what is good and right all of the time. The trap here is believing that our rule-following makes us more righteous than those that may break the rules.
Before getting stuck into this pattern make sure to test the reason by the rule – maybe it needs to be broken. Even if it is a good rule to follow, let’s always remember that we can never measure up to the righteousness of Christ.
The fifth misconception is that Christians should never doubt or question God.
This is a very scary misconception to have as it can lead a Christian to have a dwindling faith. If we believe that we are not allowed to come to the Lord with our questions or fears then we create an image of God in our heads that abandons the doubters and isn’t patient with us.
“Psalms painted a different picture of God,” Powell writes. “Faithful men doubted and spoke “matter-of-factly” to God. He didn’t destroy them. He walked with them. He was patience and understanding.”
The sixth misconception is that Christians need to be knowledgeable about the Bible.
While it is very important for us to study God’s Word and learn more about him, it is wrong for us to take that knowledge and use it to puff up our pride when we might know more than someone else.
“Faithful Christians might know their Bible,” Powell warns from experience. “But if your Bible knowledge doesn’t compel you to serve your neighbor, you’re missing something. Great students are great servants.”
The seventh of the misconceptions is that Christians need to be prompt.
Being prompt for any event is definitely an admirable quality to have. When we are late it can show a lack of concern for others and their schedules which is not showing love to our family and friends.
However, we should never believe that anyone who shows up late is any less of a Christian than ourselves. Being prompt does not make us more holy or closer to God.
In fact, Jesus was constantly late to things during his time here on Earth because he was always getting sidetracked by people in need. As Powell points out, Jesus was so late one time that his “‘lateness’ resulted in a man’s death, Lazarus.”
The eighth and final of the misconceptions is that Christians always need to be expressive and emotional.
This misconception plays out at least once a week during worship in every church across America. Many of us believe that if we are not lifting our hands and being moved to tears with every song then there is no way we are a true Christ follower.
Powell warns that this is a wrong belief to have. He points out that he has met people who were not expressive and had a deep love for Jesus; while “on the flip side, I’ve spent time with expressive, emotional Christians and found them to be bored and dry.”
Let’s be careful to not base our faith and image of God on these eight misconceptions about who a Christian should be. Ultimately, our model and example for the Christian life should always and only ever be Jesus. Praying that we would all be trying daily to follow his example.