Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying ‘You must be born again’.  – Jesus Christ, John 3: 5-7

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23

The most frequent question googled about Christianity is the title of this blog: Why are Christians so hateful? The answer is twofold. First, many professing Christians are not true followers of Jesus. Second, true love doesn’t always give the answer people want to hear. Speaking about sin isn’t popular in a society in which anything goes.

In his book Are All Professing Christians Genuine Believers? Raymond Kwong relays these figures:

  1. D.L. Moody stated “There is only about one in ten who profess Christianity, who will turn around and glorify God with a loud voice. Nine out of ten are still born Christians.”
  2. Dr. Dan Hawtree, an evangelist, relayed that about 75% of church people are unsaved. He suspects only about three percent of Americans are born again.
  3. Dr. W.A. Criswell said he would be surprised to see 25% of his members in heaven.
  4. Billy Graham estimated the percentage of lost people in evangelical churches at 85%.
  5. Dr. A.W. Tozer put it at 90%.
  6. Dr. Rod Bell and Dr. Monroe Parker put the figure at 50%.
  7. Dr. B.R. Lakin and Dr. Bob Gray put the figure at 75%.
  8. Vance Havner said that over 65% of church members are lost.
  9. Shelton Jones is reported to have said 80% of Baptist people are lost.
  10. R.A. Torrey said that only about 10% of church members are saved.
  11. From the data gathered from his many surveys, George Barna concludes that when evaluating 15 moral behaviors, those who profess to be born-again Christians are statistically indistinguishable from non-born-again adults.

It isn’t necessary to know the details of this group of formidable Christian leaders to get the idea that Christianity is not a monolith. It is widely recognized that large segments of churches today are not headed by teachers of Biblical principles. Christian churches for the most part have become a soft entertainment, prosperity seeking, emotional stimulation complex complete with praise bands, smoke machines, magnetic personality cults, and permissive and faulty teaching.

Frankly, they make Jesus look like a circus side-show and pyramid scheme huckster rather than the son of God. When spiritual truth isn’t taught and when the message is cherry picked, true repentance leading to salvation, being born of the spirit, and spiritual transformation is nearly non-existent.

Despite current trends, most of these men in the above list are from times past. Many of us who were raised in the church are well aware of the disconnect between the book and realities of “Christian” living. Most of us didn’t know people who looked much like Jesus, and this was because they were following the crowd and the culture rather than the teachings of Jesus. Neither was their professed ‘love’ for Christ deep enough to motivate them to crack the book on a regular basis to absorb the lessons or commit to daily intervals of prayer and meditation.

Truth hurts and no one likes the person who speaks it. I suspect a lot of churches would shutter the doors if preachers told the truth. Most truth telling congregations are quite small. Offend the audience and the coffers run dry. Cease the Vegas-style service and people won’t come. We want flashing lights, snacks, and a nice social club. We want some chit-chat with people who think like us, or who scratch our back no matter how wrong we happen to be living at any given time. We want to feel good. We can do without the truth.

Yet the fruits of the Spirit (which make Christians nice even when they say NO) never come to fruition in a person’s life which has not been characterized by repentance (change of mind), turning from sin, and full surrender to the Lordship of Christ. In other words, where there are no real roots there is no fruit. So “Christians” like this can be just as awful as most on the streets. There is no difference, and it is sometimes worse because of self-righteousness.

Who wants that? If this is heaven, we might want hell. Or Buddhism. Or Hinduism. Or Yoga. We want a place where our hearts and lives feel safe and where we can experience any type of love because we are starved for it in an angry and lost world.

Many people have been turned off to the teachings of Jesus and his person because of what has happened within the church. The others are turned off because they want to cling to their sins and revel in them. The road is simply too narrow to make that type of sacrifice for the God who gave all so that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

Churches are full of sinners and unsaved people, but so are the shopping malls and bars. Theaters and restaurants are full of them. That does not stop any of us from going to those places. We don’t want to go to church because of the hypocrites who are everywhere. They are sitting next to you on the bench, and I would also guess that you like me are sometimes hypocritical, too.

I admit to being very discriminating about where I go. I have experimented with a lot of traditions within and without Christianity, but I have found my own comfort zone in small, simple, earnest churches with no pomp and circumstance which reflect the character of Christ as revealed in scripture. Today, they are few and far between.

Don’t let the hypocrites get you down. Think of this the next time you say or do something just as hateful as one of them. I promise you will do it as will I. But for those of us who made a deliberate commitment to follow the real leader in the room are promised that the good work began in us will be completed. How about you?