Mahatma Gandhi is reputed to have said “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians”.
People often have an attitude like that: God is okay, and Jesus is pretty cool, but Christians and the Church – that’s something different. In fact, it is a very common obstacle to the gospel for many people who are not Christians. They may have nothing against God or Jesus, but find Christians or the church hard to deal with.
Christians are often described in terms such as ‘sanctimonious’, ‘self-righteous’ and perhaps most commonly of all ‘hypocritical’. It's true for all of us – at times our actions or attitudes don’t match our words; and our words don’t always reflect the gracious nature of God revealed in Jesus. But before we throw our hands up in despair and give up, let’s be reminded that God knows exactly who we are and loves us anyway. If we are going to be honest with God, with ourselves, and with one another, then we need to admit our fallibility and imperfection.
The old bumper sticker says “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” And if you think about it, part of turning to Jesus is acknowledging our sins and asking for forgiveness: So we shouldn’t be thinking that the church is full of exemplary people. I love the saying: “God welcomes me as I am, but loves me too much to leave me that way!” I think that we can fall into the habit of keeping up appearances: Doing the ‘right’ thing and maintaining the ‘right’ attitudes and looking good to the world. But what the world needs to see is that we are imperfect people who are living out our faith in humility and love, as we are transformed by the grace of God.