This morning while driving to the office I was listening to an old episode of The White Horse Inn in which Michael Horton and Co. were discussing the reality that Christians will always be perceived as arrogant for claiming that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Due to the nature of the human heart and the love for tolerance that is so prevalent in western culture, our claiming that there is only one way to be saved and all other ways are false will repeatedly be met with claims that Christians sit atop the apex of pride… and we like it. The content of God’s redemptive message in Christ creates this effect, but believers often contribute to the perception of arrogance unnecessarily.
According to the guys on The White Horse Inn, one way we do this is by pointing to ourselves as a reason for why unbelievers should believe, so as to say, “Look what God has done in me through Jesus… therefore, you need to repent and believe.” So many of us, myself included, have done this with good intentions without thinking of how it might be viewed through the eyes of the unbelievers we share with. I realize that when we do this we are not taking credit for the change in us (we are attributing it to Christ), but it will be hard for an unbeliever to hear anything beyond, “Look to me for why you should believe in Jesus”.
A better approach would be for us to bear witness to the truth claims of Christianity (i.e. – God made us, we rebelled, God sent Jesus to die in the place of rebels, Jesus is fully man and fully God, Jesus rose from the dead, etc.) and tell the unbeliever, “This is something both you and I must respond to”. We need to put ourselves on the level ground of humanity with the unbelievers we are sharing with – “We have all gone astray and God has made us a way to escape the judgment we have earned through his Son Jesus.”
Church, we’ll always be looked upon as arrogant because of the message we proclaim, but let’s make sure in our proclaiming that we leave it at that.