The hubris (another word for pride) of most Christians today is astounding. They spend a good deal of their time tsk-tsking at the world, pointing fingers and quoting scripture at people who have never picked up a Bible, let alone believe in God. They think they can force-feed Jesus to people who recoil at the very name, even though God himself could not accomplish this task. God shows us that only those who are open to hearing the Word will receive it, and yet the finger-pointing and Bible-thumping continue. Jesus NEVER forced the Word on anyone. He taught, helped and healed only those who came to him of their own free will. He forced no-one to listen to him or accept his help or advice, and neither should we.
So why is it that so many Christians feel compelled to force-feed the Word to people who aren’t interested or are openly hostile to it? Why do they hold non-believers to the same standards as believers? The answer is quite simple: These Christians are filled with pride (which they often misinterpret as “righteous anger”), thinking they know better than everyone else. They also don’t know God and Jesus. If they did know God and Jesus and weren’t filled with pride, they would know to hold their tongue, as a different tactic needs to be used with unbelievers. Christians are supposed to be followers of Jesus, and followers are supposed to do the same thing as whoever it is they’re following. If Jesus never forced God’s Word (or his help or his healing) on unbelievers, then neither should we.
Recall that Jesus didn’t preach to non-Jews. He mentioned several times that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel – that is, to those who knew the Law but had gone astray. Only with Paul was the reach expanded to include non-Jews, but look at the problems he encountered when he tried to preach the Word to people who were not open to receiving it. The detailed descriptions of Paul’s catastrophic attempts to preach the Word in hostile territory is included in scripture for a reason: as a warning and as a guide.
No matter how large and graphic a picture you paint, the blind won’t see it, and no matter how long and loud you yell, the deaf won’t hear you. Christians are not only wasting their time by trying to correct the behavior of unbelievers, they are accomplishing the exact opposite of what they set out to do. As a former atheist, I can attest that anyone who came to me quoting scripture or in any way referencing God or Jesus in their advice, I dismissed as an idiot. I refused to hear them and would mercilessly ridicule them. At times, I would even become so enraged, that if I’d had eaten green pea soup before our encounter, I would have projectile vomited it all over them while my head spun around. This is the effect that God’s Word has on some unbelievers.
We cannot interact with the world the same way as we interact with ourselves. The world speaks a different language and has a completely different source of inspiration. The next time you’re tempted to apply God’s principles to people immersed in the world’s ways, step back, hold your tongue, and remember what Jesus said to God on the cross: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Our job, when dealing with unbelievers, is not to be offended in anything they say or do, always to choose to forgive, not to judge them (that’s God’s job), and to do whatever we can to help them, but quietly and behind the scenes (and without their realizing we’re helping them), like God does. Otherwise, we’re to leave the world alone.