Christianity and religion in general are on shaky ground. We’ve come to a point where organized spirituality is less popular and more politically driven. Both of these factors, along with a tendency toward extremism, mix together a recipe for unease.
What can really turn people away from faith are overbearing believers, what I like to call, pushy Christians. These are the ones refitting Christianity into common grounds like government and education. They’re the ones on and off-line preaching their ideas to everyone, even those not interested in the message.
When we learn about God and know His truth, it’s understandable to want to share this great news with everyone. However, there’s a fine line to draw between humbly sharing your faith and being a pushy Christian. There are definitely ways to speak His Word while remaining a loving, caring neighbor to all.
know the signs of a pushy Christian.
The biggest question to answer is this: am I a pushy Christian? Am I turning my religion into a political statement and simultaneously pushing others away? Even the best intentions can blow up in smoke if approaching evangelism from a loud, defiant place.
1. I rely upon a strict interpretation of Scripture.
There’s no right or wrong way to read the Bible. That’s not my place to justify, nor will anyone have all the answers of what God meant in His Word.
A pushy Christian, of course, believes in the Bible, but they believe in it so much that they’re blind to biblical and modern contexts. The setting in which the Bible was written was very different from what we know today. We’ve evolved immensely since then, which means a literal interpretation is holding ourselves back from knowing God today and all the new opportunities He has to share His love.
Not only was the Bible written millennia ago, but it was also done so in languages other than English. That means the text we have now doesn’t necessarily convey everything likely said at the time. Plus, since learning more from the Bible Project, I’ve found that an English analysis of the text can overlook subtle nuances common in Hebrew storytelling. Details we’d otherwise overlook could take on an amplified meaning. What we can take literally was always meant to be a metaphor, an allusion to something else entirely.
2. I consistently tell others that Christianity is the only way to salvation.
Humans are very prone to creating “us versus them” dynamics. It’s an easy way to distinguish others, a survival technique to know who to trust or not.
This tendency is based on surface impressions of others. You’re viewing others from the outside, trying to look inward. They don’t open themselves up to learning more about other beliefs, instead making religion black and white. Christians even do this among denominations!
Saying there is only one “right” way to practice spirituality alienates others. It portrays people outside your faith as sinners, misguided people destined for Hell unless they convert to your specific religion. This ruins the opportunity for people to share their spirituality with you and create a mutual understanding. There’s likely a reason why they believe what they do, so shoving ideas down their throats won’t change their minds; instead, it’ll steer them far away from you.
3. My faith is a means of political involvement.
Here comes to all-important separation of church and state. Again, a government that champions one religion over another is alienating. It’s what leads to wars fought over religion. It’s what masks violence, hate, and discrimination: everything Christianity promotes against.
Places like education and government are neutral grounds. They should be welcoming to all who enter, regardless of what they believe. Yes, we have freedoms of religion and speech, but institutions still have a final say over what goes and what doesn’t.
There’s a reason we say to not discuss religion and politics at the kitchen table: we immediately become defensive because denouncing ideas feels like direct attacks on character. Spirituality is personal and sacred. The less we push it in legislation and curricula, the better. (Yes, this also includes avoiding political talk while in church.)
humbly share your faith.
The signs of a pushy Christian are quite broad as is, but they hopefully cover the many situations where religion divides us rather than bringing us together.
So, you want to discuss your faith, but how can you do so without becoming a pushy Christian? Here are my tips for healthy spiritual discussion and growth.
1. be mindful of when and what you share.
Pushy Christians aren’t tasteful when promoting their religion. They throw in Bible verses willy-nilly, even when it’s not appropriate.
Matthew 23:12 says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” God is good, and you’ll likely know when a situation calls for Him to speak through you. Approach the topic gently. Through your words, your intentions and spirit will radiate; it’ll be clear if you’re acting in urgency and/or anger, or if you’re acting in love and grace.
2. accept not always being right.
Or, more accurately, accept not knowing what’s right or wrong. God works in mysterious ways. The only constants we know are Him and finding new ways to understand Him. We each have an intimate relationship of who God is to us, so who are we to judge?
If you feel compelled to open up about your faith, allow an equal opportunity for someone else to share their beliefs, too. Let people come to you inquiring about Christianity rather than forcing it upon them. Empathize with others, even when you disagree. Ask questions from a place of curiosity. Let your own spirituality to evolve and grow; it shouldn’t be a stagnant, strict presence.
3. talk less and do more.
It’s easy to get hung up on preaching what we know of God and drilling those words into others’ heads as a means of evangelism. But what example are we setting? We’re too busy standing still and talking ears off rather than going out and making use of the Holy Spirit within each of us.
Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” At the root of all religion is doing good in the world, loving and helping everyone. It’s true that actions speak a thousand words. What you prioritize and how you treat others will be the most telling proclamation of your faith. Being more like Jesus involves far more service than it does preaching.
Go out in the world. Do what God calls you to do. Love thy neighbor. Every neighbor.
What’s your opinion about pushy Christians? Let me know in the comments below!
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie