Recently, I’ve caught myself judging a few of my peers as “too” Christian. In my life, I’ve assigned this label to people who seem to take obedience “too seriously,” whether it’s dedication to modesty, talking about Christ, not listening to certain types of music, and the list goes on.
When nonbelievers fault us for being “too Christian,” they’re often thinking about legalistic behavior—attitudes that ironically aren’t “Christian” at all.
Certainly, legalism—the dependence on behavior rather than faith for salvation—misses the point of the Gospel. However, devotion to God should definitely make our lives look different.
Convictions about behavior vary among Christ-followers, and the motivation behind what we do is usually what really matters. So just like we shouldn’t necessarily declare someone isn’t a Christian because some of their actions don’t perfectly line up with our views of Christianity, we shouldn’t fault someone for being “too Christian” when their actions do.
Why would I ever think someone is “too” Christian, then? I’ve dug down into the real root of my resentment by asking a few questions:
What Do These Feelings Reveal about Me?
Question yourself to see if an insecurity is surfacing. If this person has fully surrendered their life as Christ asks us to, then why am I bothered? Am I discovering places in my life I have not yet surrendered? Am I annoyed to be convicted about an area of my life that I’m too lazy to give to God? Am I labeling this person before I’m willing to diagnose myself?
Is This Person Being Used by God?
Is this person’s obedience and service yielding a reward? Is his or her devotion revealing Christ to others and discipling believers? Is the message of God being shared? Is this person bringing others closer to God rather than repelling them? If the answers to these questions are yes, then this person’s ministry is one to be celebrated.
Am I Trying to Live a Comfortable Faith?
Jesus describes lukewarm people, those that are indifferent to Him and His laws, as people He will reject. Many times, lukewarm people want the Christian label without the sacrifice of following Christ. I think of the rapper Andy Mineo’s lyrics, “I talk about Jesus, all the Christians love me/ I walk like Jesus now they wanna judge me, ain’t it funny?” Ask yourself, am I looking to remain comfortable in my faith? Does this person’s dedication to the Lord reveal my apathy toward Him?
Is This Person on the Same Mission, but Serving in a Different Way?
Am I arrogantly assuming that there’s one right way to serve God? Am I judging this person’s choices, thereby condemning this believer? Is this person’s way of serving the Lord part of their unique calling and design by God?
In Corinthians it reads, “if the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? … If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” You may be playing a role in the body of Christ that is different than this person.
Is This a Personality Difference?
God uses people of every personality type to achieve His will. A reflective introvert may have a different ministry role than the “pumped up for Jesus” type. Don’t let a personality difference cause a wedge in a relationship. There is something to be learned from every person, even the ones we find irritating. If you find that it is difficult to keep a good attitude with this person, pray that God will soften your heart and let you see them as God does.
Is This Person Transformed by Christ?
God’s presence is practically evident in His followers when they display the fruits of the Spirit. Is this person acting with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Now, are those fruits visible in me?
Is it Christ in Them That I’m Resenting?
As we conform to God and His holiness, we become “a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy.” Christ followers that are set apart from the world look different. Judgment is oftentimes born out of difference.
Jesus faced this judgment when He was condemned by the religious Pharisees. These were people who believed they were in right standing with God. Yet, when they saw Jesus, they despised Him.
Is it Christ that I see and am rejecting in this person?
Is This Person Put in My Life to Push Me Closer to Christ?
Each person in our life is there for a reason. God is working when He stirs discomfort in us. Most likely, He is teaching you something. Because of my pride, it’s sometimes hard for me to accept that my spiritual life has room for improvement. Be humble and allow growth.