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Why are some Christians mean?

Well, it could be that the Christian in question really isn’t one.  Maybe they had some kind of spiritual experience or said some words and now believe they belong to the family of God, but never truly surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.  If so, His Holy Spirit never came to live in their heart.  Their desires are still their own.  Their motivations are still their own.  Their actions are still their own.  Not God’s.  Please don’t let them ruin your opinion of the One Whose name they’ve hijacked.

If they truly are a Christian, meaning they’ve accepted God’s forgiveness made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection and been saved from the consequences of sin by surrendering their lives to Him, it could be they’re just out of practice.

Let me explain.

I have athletic ability.  It’s genetic.  When I work out, my muscles “remember” what to do and begin to take on the desired shape quickly.  When I count calories and get enough sleep, I lose weight.  When I watch someone execute a skill, I can do a decent imitation of them.  When I train, I improve at that skill.

You’d never know it, though, if were you to observe me.  At the moment, my muscle tone is lacking.  I’m heavier than I was a year ago, and I’m not currently excelling at any particular skill.  Why? I’m not working at it.

The mean Christian you know may be in the same boat.  They’ve been reborn and so have the Holy Spirit inside them as a result of their God-given faith (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 4:5-6).  He’s ready, willing, and able to help them discern the will of the Father and execute it, but they aren’t cooperating with Him.  They’re not applying themselves, so they aren’t growing.   As a result, they still act on their own desires and let selfish motives drive them sometimes.   More often than not, they are a poor representation of the One they represent.   Please don’t let them ruin your opinion of their Father.

They may be rebelling—if so, God will take them in hand presently (Heb. 12:3-11)—but it’s more likely they believe they are doing and/or saying the right thing.  See, sometimes, my brothers and sisters and I do a poor job of training up the younger ones and teaching them what they need to know.  As a result, they don’t practice submission to the Holy Spirit.  They don’t know they need to, so they run ahead, falsely assuming that their identity as a child of God automatically makes them correct or gives them the right to do and say what they please.  That’s on us.  I beg you to overlook their behavior just as I would ask you to overlook the behavior of any other toddler who behaved inappropriately for lack of instruction.

Understand, Christians are sanctified, or set apart for God, the moment we give our lives to Jesus Christ, but our transformation into His image takes a lifetime, the rate of that transformation contingent on the consistency of our cooperation.  Rather than hold a grudge against those who don’t know yet how to be, I hope you’ll become a part of the solution, giving God complete control of your life so you can show them how it’s done.

However, it could also be that what you’re interpreting as meanness really isn’t.  Maybe the Christian in question is just passing along the truth of God’s Word, and it’s making you uncomfortable.  If so, don’t be upset.  Be glad!  God, the Creator of the Universe, the Great I Am, is talking to you! That’s a blessing no matter how it makes you feel in the moment because it means He’s giving you an opportunity to draw closer to Him, where you’ll find joy that transcends circumstance and peace that surpasses human understanding.

Maybe you’ve never put your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for salvation from the consequences of sin by surrendering your life to Jesus.  If this is true, I hope you will so the discomfort will pass.  Maybe you’re a child of God, but you’re operating independently of Him at the moment, causing yourself and others unnecessary grief.  If so, I hope you’ll confess that sin and fall back in line with the Father’s will for your life.  Your actions are causing more damage than you probably realize.

Granted, some Christians are careless, speaking the truth of God’s Word like they’re supposed to, but lacing it with disdain, self-righteousness, and the like, thereby wounding those they’re supposed to help heal and poisoning their opinion of the Father.  If this has happened to you, I apologize.  Again, I hope you can dismiss the toddler at your heels yapping, poking, and showing out while the Father, compassionate and full of grace, is trying to speak to you.  He will correct them in due time, I assure you.

In a perfect world, the words mean and Christian wouldn’t ever be spoken together.  There’d be no reason.  But this isn’t a perfect world, and none of us, Christian or non-Christian, is perfect.  Not yet (Phil. 1:6). Our flesh gets in the way.  The only thing that sets Christians apart from non-Christians is the hope we have in Jesus Christ, confident assurance that His death and resurrection were enough to spare us the consequences of sin we so obviously deserve and secure our place in God’s Kingdom now and forever if only we put our faith and trust in Him.

Whatever your experience with us, please don’t stay angry.  Instead, once the initial sting has subsided, I hope you’ll be encouraged by our behavior.  After all, if God loves, accepts, and forgives sinners like us, He loves and will accept and forgive you, too.  If you do a better job, then, of cooperating with His Holy Spirit than we have, you’ll run spiritual circles around the rest of us, and we’ll soon look to you as an example of sincere faith and love.