So many people misunderstand what being a Christian is all about. Sadly, this includes many Christians. As a result, many non-Christians and lukewarm Christians miss out on the wonderful relationship they could have with our Father in heaven. They are keen to dissociate from such labels as "blind faith," "over-restrained," "brainwashed," "narrow-minded," "boring," "religious"?
The term "religious" is often used with a negative connotation. Also, you get called "religious" even by simply going to church every week. What do people mean by "religious"? It ranges from blind engrossment to total dedication. If so, then everyone is religious, whether in following a television episode, making money, or getting into medical school, as long as you earnestly pursue your heart's desires.
When you love someone, it is only natural to try your best to please that person with your actions and words. It is even easier to do so when you know that the other party also loves you. As Christians, we know and feel how much God loves us. We also know how much our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ love us. Therefore, it is only natural for us to observe the Sabbath, which is in keeping with God's commandments, and by doing so, we not only please Him, but also receive some bodily and mental rest. We are able to listen to His wonderful Word, put what we learn into practice, and spend time with our brethren. So, what is so strange about being "religious" and observing the Sabbath every week? Furthermore, attending church does not necessarily mean that you are a true Christian or are fulfilling all your duties as a Christian—far from it! People may do it purely out of habit or for some ulterior motive like flaunting their wealth and status, showing how "good" they are, establishing business contacts, or searching for a spouse. Are any of these things truly religious? No one would fight shy of being called "religious" if we return to the true sense of the word.
Another reason why many people are turned off by Christianity is that they think it is too restrictive. This, for the most part, is due to the way they look at the so-called restrictions that Christians observe. In the first place, they have no idea what the meaning of true freedom is. As the apostle Paul says, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any" (1 Cor 6:12). God does not tell us that we cannot go to dances, watch movies, or listen to secular music. What He does tell us is this:
'...love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mk 12:30-31)
Thus, if you drink, go dancing, etc., perhaps nobody will stop you, but think of the following questions: How do all these things facilitate you in loving God and people? Are you in control or are the things you do controlling you? Will your actions adversely affect you in the future? Will you be able to bear the responsibility that comes with your actions and to face the consequences?
The Ten Commandments, which always seem to loom so ominously, have been established for our benefit. If you break any of them, you can be certain that God will still exist. But if you obey them, it is you that will gain freedom and peace in your heart. What is freedom, as defined by our Lord Jesus? It is holding to His teachings, because then "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" from the slavery of sin (Jn 8:31-34).
It is just that people do not realize how much God has given them and how His commandments can help them live a more happy, healthy, and meaningful life.
Yet another deterrent is that we are "boring" and "have no life." You do not have to be Christian to be "boring." There are many non-Christians in this world who are "boring" and "have no life". You can easily witness this simply by looking around you. Furthermore, just because you are a Christian, it does not mean that you just sit at home, read the Bible, pray, and sing hymns all day. Besides pursuing their spiritual life, school, and work, Christians do go out to relax and have fun. They ski, do aerobics, lift weights, go bowling, ice skate, roller blade, play tennis, basketball, etc. Christians who aren't athletically inclined might visit museums, go shopping, read, pursue their hobbies, learn a foreign language, cultivate a skill like singing, drawing, playing a musical instrument, etc. Now, if these things are boring, then what isn't?!
Besides being accused of being "boring," Christians are also prone to hear of people who are afraid of being "narrow-minded," having "blind faith," or being "brainwashed." Admittedly, many Christians and non-Christians alike can be guilty of these. However, Christians are taught in the Bible to listen to what other people have to say before they speak (Jas 1:19; Prov 18:13). It also warns us to "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes" and "not to think beyond what is written" (1 Cor 4:5-6). These teachings are not compatible with "narrow-mindedness". The same is true about religious fanatism, for the Bible instructs, "it is good to be zealous in a good thing" (Gal 4:18). Planting bombs in subways and mass suicides have no place in Christianity. How are Christians who truly have the correct attitude and understanding of God's commands "narrow-minded," "blind in their faith," or "brainwashed"?
Non-Christians can be quite "narrow-minded," "blind," and "brainwashed". Take, for example, people who are couch potatoes and are constantly glued to a TV or movie screen. A person's values and decision-making process can be greatly or subtly influenced by what they see on the screen. You can witness this by observing the decisions they make in what they wear, what they say, what they watch, what they eat, etc. But the most obvious and devastating effect can be seen in how desensitised these people are towards sex, violence, and the sufferings and deaths of other people outside their immediate sphere.
"Just Being Good"
And lastly, another major misunderstanding that people have is that being a Christian is simply to "be a good person." You don't have to be a Christian to be a good person. There are many non-Christians who seem like really good people. In fact, there are other religions that teach people how to "be good people." Everyone agrees that murder and theft are wrong. Everyone also agrees that it is good to have compassion on those less fortunate than we. These things are just common sense. So what really differentiates Christians from everyone else? First and foremost, we worship the one true God and trust in Jesus as the only Savior who saves us from sin. Second, by faith we believe that the prophecies recorded in the Scriptures regarding our Lord's virgin birth, sufferings and wanderings, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection and ascension to heaven were all fulfilled. Third, we believe that everything that has been done under the sun, whether good or bad, has been recorded and remembered by our Lord Jesus Christ and that at the end of time, everyone will be judged accordingly. Fourth, our two main objectives in life are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as ourselves.
There will always be misconceptions about Christians. Prejudice will also always exist. But what we can do as Christians is to not be hypocrites. Rather, we ought to be true Christians with the help of the precious Holy Spirit bestowed upon us. We will thus be:
Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. (1 Pet 3:15-16)