During the days that I was being more rebellious against God (I say “more” because I still struggle) and was not working on developing any sort of relationship with Him, I still never doubted His existence or denied Christ died for our sins (though I was not holding this very sacred by my lifestyle). However, I did not parade around telling everyone I knew that I was a believer and I was the first one to quickly admit that I was not living the life or example I should have been.
These days when I come across someone who says they are a believer I not only try to encourage them but also test them against their own word on their faith, especially when I witness questionable actions coming from someone claiming to be a believer. There have been many that, although I do believe they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, are headed down the same worldly path I’ve been down many times.
Through simple questions or statements of Truth they can be easily offended. They are unable to recognize that it is through love that I (or others) may try to call them out on what they already claim to hold dear to their hearts. I’ve come across some, while claiming I was one of their only friends, that avoided me for weeks for simply asking how reading their Bible was going. Now to many that may not seem like a hard question, but to someone still incredibly young in their faith and not fully knowing what the Bible teaches (or taking an interest in it) that type of question is viewed as “being judgmental.”
We live in an age where our “churches” (I use that term loosely here) are not working to actually challenge and encourage our youth. I know this not only from personal experience but also being a witness to it from those I have been around.
We are in a time where at a young age children are told stories about God and the Bible, much like a bedtime story, to keep them busy. As they get older they are still being kept busy, mostly through skits and entertainment, with some lessons about why abstinence is important. Other than that the gospel never seems to reach the youth of today, or yesterday… or the day before…
I would say that most youths never fully know what the Bible actually teaches from attending church but because they have grown up hearing entertaining stories they think they know exactly what it says. All the while they can now go out into the world and anything they do will somehow have no effect on them spiritually.
What I have learned is that I was never really taught much about the spiritual life. I was not taught what things in the world can affect my spiritual life which in turn can affect my decisions and my entire life. I was not warned against the ways Satan will work against us or what to stay away from other than the obvious. And to be completely honest, I now see that many adults don’t even have a clue as to what can have a negative affect on their spiritual lives. There have been so many generations that have grown up with such a watered down gospel and lack of experience that they do not know how to teach their children and the cycle continues.
If you never warn others of what is bad they will assume everything they come across is good. By that I mean, if you never share experiences involving a real spiritual life (good and bad, not only showing what is sweet and happy) they will never be able to recognize the ways Satan works and know how to deal with the trials of life.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Even today those I would have considered youths during my days of my own youth are now the age of adulthood, as am I. Even today they are still infants in their faith as I once was, though I will always be learning because the realm in which God dwells can never fully be learned by us. Even I am still a child in comparison to others but I have grown tired of milk and am fully in want of strong meat. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
So do not become offended by your brothers and sisters in Christ if they are trying to challenge or encourage you in your faith. If you become offended or feel guilty it may not be for their reason but your own. Try to reflect on that the next time you feel someone is “judging you” and ask if they have reason to. If you are unable to hold up to what you say you believe how are you helping the Kingdom?
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matthew 15:8)
Another thing to note is that by claiming to be a believer in Christ, that He died for our sins, you are then held to a higher standard than others in that regard. When I was still working I did not hold the non-believers to the same moral or spiritual standards that I did those who claimed to be Christians. Even still the Christians became offended due to a lack of maturity in their faith. We cannot hold those who live by the world to the same standards as those who believe on Christ; even we as believers will be tested in our faith.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:7-9)