Matthew R. Perry

If Jesus Is So Wonderful, Why Are His Followers Such Jerks? (Introduction)

In Culture on September 17, 2007 at 11:08 pm

(This is part of a sermon in the midst of a sermon series on “Questions The Culture Asks — But Christians Are Afraid to Answer. Click here to listen to the entire sermon on “If Jesus Is So Wonderful, Why Are His Followers Such Jerks?)

I am going to list off a number of people or events, and youtell me what they all have in common: the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Fred Phelps, the Ku Klux Klan, sexual abuse among the priesthood. These are all prime examples that many in the culture use to show the hypocrisy of Christians. And outside of Christians being accused of intolerance, being accused of hypocrisy is not far down the list.

What does it mean to be a hypocrite? Merriam-Webster defines this as :

1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

Now, you may notice that the title of this sermon is a bit different than the title I gave on the flyers put up around town. That title read: “If Jesus Is So Wonderful, Why Are His Followers Such Jerks?” Some may not deem that word appropriate to use in the church or the pulpit, but like the word hypocrite, I looked up the word “jerk” in the dictionary as well. Here’s the definition that applies:

(slang) A person, usually male, who is unwelcome due to unlikable qualities and behavior, often mean, foolish or disagreeable.

Now, aside from the fact that the women may have found great delight that this term usually applies to a male, you see why this question comes along toward Christians — some are jerks who are unwelcome, are unlikable, and are mean, foolish and disagreeable. Hypocrites at least try to put on a good face — this other category feels it’s their duty to “just be who they are,” even
if its unChristlike.

For this reason, some believe Christianity is invalid because of the lack of love and virtue in their followers. This is not simply limited to Christianity, mind you? Some believe all of baseball is bad because of some who took steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Some believe all police officers or politicians are bad because of one who was corrupt. Some believe all the Internet is bad because of some pornographic websites. So Christianity is not unlike many other organizations. Our human nature tends to associate the merits of any organization (especially Christianity) with its worst representatives.

But why is this a particularly stinging rebuke toward Christians? Why does that hurt so bad? Many reasons abound, but I am convinced that, unlike other groups which simply have black and white rules and an aura of tradition around them, Christianity is tied up in a Person, Jesus Christ. His Church is called his“body.” And when we hear this from others, we are not simply concerned about what people think of us (although some are), but we are mostly concerned about what people think of the Person we worship and adore — Jesus Christ. We know He is worthy! We know He is consistent with what He said and what He did when put up against what He believed.

When people level this charge, what are they really saying? We must look and see what they are saying as far as their past encounters with Christianity, as well as take a look at ourselves.

(Tomorrow: The Difficulty of Christianity)

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  1. This is a good article. Thanks.

    Years ago someone I knew raved about some new book and persisted that I read it. I did, and theological issues aside I genuinely did not like it simply becuase the Author spent 90% of his time apologizing (and I don’t mean James White style!) for the Christian faith and its follower’s to non-believers. The book? Blue Like Jazz. People are sinners. Paul the Apostle said that he was chief of sinners. Do I need to apologize for him? No. He pointed to Jesus Christ as the radiance and glory of God. So should we.

    (Yes, we should thoughtfully and sensitively explain things like the crusades, Jimmy Swaggart, and etc etc, but lets no one think that non-believers are innocent. Sin isn’t just external things like killing and smoking banana peels. Its anger, coveting, and lust, impatience and pride. )

    Heres a good article relating to this topic:

    http://dannyhyde.squarespace.com/the-heidelblog/2007/9/17/you-can-hide-the-hyde-until-you-cant-q-8.html

    Hope all is well, Brother Perry, and God bless.

    Steven

  2. [...] or listen to this sermon by Matt Perry. If Jesus Is So Wonderful, Why Are His Followers Such Jerks? Now, aside from the fact that the [...]

  3. The main thing i’m enjoying while reading your blog is the way you write, you are a really charismatic person and your posts are wonderful, keep it up!

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