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Miranda Writes: Closed-minded Christian




by Omar Miranda



Hi! This week I want to respond to something interesting that a guy named Ryan posted on the Insight Web site. Here’s the post:

A lot of times I hear people (non-Christians, to be specific) accusing Christians of being judgmental, closed-minded Bible-huggers that refuse to listen to or accept anything of this world that does not pertain to the Bible or Christianity. Sometimes, though, I feel that there are some things in this world that we as Christians should close our minds to. I feel that it is necessary to an extent to be somewhat closed-minded because there are just too many tricks and traps that Satan has set to drag people down. I’m not implying that we should completely disregard everything that doesn’t directly relate to God. I’m saying that I don’t think it’s downright wrong not to open oneself up to every non-Christian belief or concept that “the world” throws our way. I know for a fact that I would rather be accused of being closed- or narrow-minded and be accepted into God’s kingdom than open my mind to every worldly aspect and be deterred from my relationship with God.—Ryan.

Ryan, wow! It sounds as though you must have had a serious discussion, interaction, or disagreement with somebody. Hey, thanks for your straightforward and strong view of God’s holiness! I absolutely agree—and disagree—with you about your position on this topic. I’d like to explain, if I may.
I think it’s really important that we make a distinction between dealing with non-Christians who have already heard the gospel and have decided not to accept Jesus, and non-Christians who either haven’t heard the gospel or are still undecided. We also need to consider dealing and interacting with those folks who call themselves Christians but who live like non-Christians. With all of these groups it’s important for us to examine how we should respond to them. But before we do that, let’s make one thing clear: our job as Christians on this earth is to spread the good news of salvation to as many people in as many ways as we can.

In Jesus’ day there were some people who felt that they shouldn’t “dirty” themselves with sinners and that they should hang out only with “perfect,” “clean” people. I like to call these folks the “frozen chosen.” Let’s look at Matthew 9:9-13 and see what Jesus had to say about that: “As Jesus was leaving, he saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at the place for paying taxes. Jesus said to him, ‘Come with me.’ Matthew got up and went with him. Later, Jesus and his disciples were having dinner at Matthew’s house. Many tax collectors and other sinners were also there. Some Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and other sinners?’ Jesus heard them and answered, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and learn what the Scriptures mean when they say, “Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.” I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.’”¹ Yeah! Jesus just schooled those folks about the true reason He was here: to offer sick sinners (such as you, me, and everyone else) the true medicine, which is eternal life through Him. And as I mentioned earlier, this is what Jesus’ followers are here for too.

Now, Ryan, with that clear, let’s talk about how you’re both right and wrong. I absolutely agree with you in the sense that as Christians we should be extremely careful not to entertain thoughts, ideas, worldviews, or attitudes that are anti-God or anti-truth. James 4:4 tells us, “Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”  Also, Proverbs 4:23 tells us that we should “carefully guard [our] thoughts because they are the source of true life.”  That being said, though, we should also be careful not to hide ourselves away, being afraid of the ugliness, sin, and evils of this world to the point where we—the light to the darkness—hide, well, our light. Jesus said, “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-17).

If you’re talking about angry, stubborn, frothy-mouthed, crazy-eyed, out-to-eat-Christians-for-breakfast non-Christians, then yes, the Bible makes it clear that we should tell them about the gospel. But if they refuse to “hear” (Bible-speak for “change”), Jesus told His disciples when He was sending them out to tell others about Him that they should shake the dust off their sandals and leave that place (Matthew 10:13-15). Translation: leave them alone. I know, I know, it sounds harsh, but in terms of loving others and living your life, even Jesus understood that people have their own brains and make their own decisions, and if they want to live their lives without God—which is really no life at all—then that’s fine. Well, really, it’s not fine, but God’s not going to force them to accept His salvation; that’s not how He rolls.

If you’re talking about dealing with non-Christians who’ve never heard the good news of salvation and who are open and receptive to it, you’ve got to speak their language. When the apostle Paul was speaking about God calling him into ministry, he clarified this important principle of evangelism: “I am not anyone’s slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so that I can win as many people as possible. When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Paul basically said that as Christians we must meet people where they’re at. We can’t speak Christianese to a non-Christian and expect them to get it. Can you imagine how you would feel if you weren’t a Christian and someone asked you, “Have you been washed in the blood . . . and been made clean?” What! Excuse me? I’d be calling 9-1-1 immediately and getting out of there as fast as my toothpick legs could take me (cue cartoon Fred Flintstone running sounds).
In terms of dealing with people who call themselves Christians but live like non-Christians, Jesus clearly wants us to steer clear of people like that in our lives. Why? Well, for one, not hanging around with them could serve as a lesson to them that what they’re doing isn’t OK. And second, the foolishness of these people can pull others in and hook them before they even know it. It’s kind of like they have a super-contagious disease that’ll mess anyone up who gets near. If you knew you could get really messed up from getting close to them, you’d keep your distance, right? Now, I’m not talking about a Christian who is trying to live a godly life but keeps making mistakes; no one is perfect. I’m talking about the person who is outright sinning and proud of it. They are unapologetic and may even make fun of you if you don’t (and even if you do) go along with the foolishness they’ve got going on. The apostle Paul again, speaking to Christians about this same issue, gives us this clear piece of teaching in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11: “In my other letter I told you not to have anything to do with immoral people. But I wasn’t talking about the people of this world. You would have to leave this world to get away from everyone who is immoral or greedy or who cheats or worships idols. I was talking about your own people who are immoral or greedy or worship idols or curse others or get drunk or cheat. Don’t even eat with them!”

Ryan, I hope that these guidelines are helpful to you as you try to navigate your way through the difficult river that is living in this world, being involved in others’ lives, but not getting sucked into all the crazy and becoming a part of it. In conclusion, I leave you with this challenge: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, NIV).²

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

    ¹Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations in this article are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
    ²Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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