Should Christians be nicer than everyone else?  

I mean, that’s the proof of a Christian, right? Christians are so much nicer and kinder and more compassionate and sociable, and never would an angry, nasty, impatient, judging word spill from their lips. 

But what if you’re not a Christian, but you’ve grown up in a loving family, where you were deeply valued and respected, and life was full of joy and good times together, so you ended up being a jolly nice, well rounded, thoroughly balanced, and exceedingly well liked person that people loved to be around? People would probably think by your good manners and pleasing demeanour that you’re obviously a Christian, even though you aren’t one.   

Compare that to a person who toddles off to church every Sunday, who therefore would be thought of as Christian, but he’s not a very nice person at all. In fact, he’s morose, negative, complains a lot, is highly opinionated, doesn’t listen to anyone else’s point of view, and he’s on your doorstep moaning about your dog barking, and dead branches from your tree dropping on his flower beds. And he calls himself a Christian? 

But what if he’d grown up in awful surroundings, in a mildewed apartment with an alcoholic father who treated him like a punchbag, and his mother filled him with TV dinners with all nutritional brain developing nutrients stripped out of them? And to survive the bullies and drug pushers he became tough and surly, and rather scary to be around, because he’d flare up easily and yell, and stab you in the chest with his finger to get his point across.

And yet he says he’s a Christian. He goes to church. But what would identify him as a Christian other than going to church? Well, why not ask him? And what if he said in reply, “I know what I’m like and how really horrible I am, and there’s no way I can ever change what my upbringing made me, but Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ in Luke 5:31-32. And I took that to mean he can take a hopeless case like me and make me into something new. It’s going to take time, I realize that, but that’s why I’m a Christian, because that’s what Jesus came to do for people like me.”

But would the person who grew up in ideal surroundings, who enjoys a good life and lots of friends, and has little trouble socially, and no trouble with bad moods, feel that same need for Jesus’ help to make him into a new person? What “new” thing would he need, he might ask, when he’s already been thought of as “a jolly good fellow”? 

So who’s the Christian? The nice person who sees no need to repent or change, or the nasty person who hates who he is and throws the awful mess he’s become into Jesus’ hands, to see what Jesus can make of him instead? 

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