When Christians Get It Wrong (Revised)

By Adam Hamilton Published
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Following Jesus can be more about serving others rather than judging them.More and more young adults have opted out of Christianity and the church. The reason? Christians. When young adults talk about the problems they have with Christianity and the church, they often name certain attitudes and behaviors they believe are practiced too often by Christians: judging others, condemning people of other faiths, rejecting science, injecting politics into faith, and being anti-homosexual. With his familiar style, Adam Hamilton tackles these issues and addresses the how’s and why’s of Christians getting it right when it comes to being Christ in the world. Those who read When Christians Get It Wrong will gain a different way of understanding the issues that keep people away from Christianity and keep Christians from living a more compelling faith. Because, honestly, if we don’t start getting it right, we may lose an entire generation. Revised and updated in a new convenient trim size.



Christians Being Unchristian


    According to recent research, more young adults are turning away from Christianity than in years past, and the apparent reasons for this trend are the subject of Adam Hamilton’s latest book, When Christians Get It Wrong. The first perception he deals with is the unchristian behavior of many Christians. And it makes sense if this is indeed true— because if Christians are as bad or worse than everyone else, then why would anyone want to join their club?

    But in order for this theory to be true, we have to assume a few things:

    • For nonchristians or new Christians to know when a Christian’s behavior is unchristian, they must have been exposed to the real thing somewhere. Either they’ve met a Christian that lives up to their ideal or they’ve manufactured an ideal in their own mind that may or may not be realistic.
    • If they’ve met a “real Christian” (one that lives up to their expectations), then that could either inspire them to reach that level themselves or become discouraged because they fear they might never be able to live up even to their own ideal.
    • If  they’ve never met a “real Christian”, then there’s definitely a problem, because either their ideal is flawed (a likely possibility) or a lot of Christians need to rediscover the teaching of sanctification and Christian perfection (another likely possibility.)

    Although Adam lists four ways Christians get it wrong in these areas, I see most of the problem relating directly to two things: judging/hypocrisy and power/transformation.

    JudgingChristians do often come across as too judgmental, which is bad enough when they have their own acts together. But when they don’t even come close to that ideal, the added hypocrisy turns the judging into a double whammy. Some Christians actually mean well when they “judge”. There’s a place for correction and admonishment in Christian community, but it has to take place in light of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And the “right” to correct another Christian often has to be earned. In a weird way, it’s like spamming someone’s Facebook account with invitations, events and group suggestions. I’ll put up with a lot of that noise from people I’ve known for a while. But if it’s someone I hardly know who just added me yesterday– and they spam my inbox today, I’m probably going to de-friend them quickly. In the same way, people will generally take correction from you only if you’ve invested time in your relationship with them, if they know your heart, and if they know you accept them no matter what. They may fight you on the details, but I don’t believe correction will cause them to leave the faith if it’s done right. If you remember that it’s about relationships and the fruit of the Spirit, you won’t go wrong.

    Christians who show no signs of being transformed are the other big problem. Evangelism comes from a Greek word meaning “good news”. If Christianity isn’t changing me for the better, that’s going to be obvious to nonbelievers and believers alike. Then when I try to share my faith, the big question in everyone’s mind is going to be, “What faith?” If I’m still a slave to all of my old sins and attitudes, where’s the good news in that? Imagine if I started a new diet/fitness plan that I was recommending to everyone else, but never lost any body fat (or even worse, gained it). People would either assume the diet didn’t work or they’d figure I wasn’t accurately following the diet I was recommending to everyone else. Either way, they’d likely stay far away from my diet plan. That’s the way it is with religion and faith matters. People want to know that something works and see it for themselves before they try it. If young adults truly are leaving Christianity at a greater rate than they did a generation ago, it’s because they aren’t seeing the real stuff in action. As Christians, we need to make it one of our missions to change that.

Why are growing numbers of American young people choosing not to affiliate with churches? Head of the Leawood, Kans., Church of the Resurrection, Hamilton (Confronting the Controversies: A Christian Looks at the Tough Issues) views this well-documented phenomenon from a pastoral perspective. Threading his reflections with anecdotes and conversations with younger adults both inside and outside church walls, the author takes a look at some of the hot button issues younger adults report as divisive. These include Christians and judgmentalism; science and Christian practice; how believers relate to those of other faiths; how to understand God's role when tragedy strikes; and what happens when the church focuses on such issues as homosexuality. “When Christians get it right they love and give, they work for justice and demonstrate kindness,” asserts the author. He makes the argument throughout this slender volume that when nonbelievers see the faithful “knocking holes in the darkness” by deeds done in Jesus’ name, they see evidence for Christian faith that attracts rather than repels. - PW Religion BookLine, July 2010


“Who helps you think? Adam Hamilton pushes my thinking. I consider him a trustworthy friend. When he speaks, I listen. When he writes, I read. If you need some help thinking seriously about some of the more difficult issues of our day, read this book.”
Mark Beeson, Senior Pastor of Granger Community Church

About the Author

Adam Hamilton

Adam Hamilton is senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, one of the fastest growing, most highly visible churches in the country. The Church Report named Hamilton's congregation the most influential mainline church in America, and he preached at the National Prayer Service as part of the presidential inauguration festivities in 2013. Hamilton is the best-selling and award-winning author of Why? Making Sense of God's Will, 24 Hours that Changed the World, The Journey, The Way, Enough, When Christians Get It Wrong and Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, all published by Abingdon Press. Learn more about Hamilton at AdamHamilton.org.

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