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Column

Kirsten Oss

While working at a coffee shop this summer, I had the opportunity to talk about my faith with my coworkers. One conversation stood out above the rest. I was asked why I didn’t act like other college students, and I had the opportunity to share how the Gospel transforms your desires. 

Before I could tell her about Christ, my coworker interrupted. “Oh, that’s right, you’re the Christian girl,” she said. With an eye roll and a hair flip, she avoided me for the rest of our shift.  

My coworker assumed I would preach at her out of a hateful, condemning heart. And she’s not the only person who think this about Christians. As you live for Christ, you will encounter people like this yourself at your summer job, your internship or even after graduation. 

Unfortunately, others you will meet often base their perspective on bad experiences with those who claim to be Christians. 

If you open your phone and scroll through social media, stories of hateful Christians will fill your feed.

Opposing voices clamor about topics such as feminism and abortion, the rights of women and unborn children. Clashing stances give way to angry arguments both in the digital sphere and off the screen. In the chaos, opinions and interpretations take centerstage over the salvific message Christians try to share. 

Speaking truth is equated to hate speech or threatening and prejudiced communication.  

In situations like when a Christian tries to share a biblical perspective, the cries of hate speech grow louder as people on the receiving end of the truth feel threatened by it, and Christianity is labeled as a hateful religion.  

Sometimes, people who call themselves Christians voice their opinions—or even twist the truth of Scripture—in an arrogant, hateful way.

But the Bible teaches a different message—one of love.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

God loved us even while we still lived in sin. Denying that by treating those lost in sin hatefully leads to the misunderstanding that God hates people who are not Christians.

So how can we set ourselves apart from the negative misconceptions caused by hateful groups claiming the name of Christ?

God gives us clear instructions in the Bible. 

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). 

As Scripture instructs, we need to share the truth of the Gospel. But while this remains true, we need to share the Gospel out of love, not out of an argumentative or hateful spirit. 

And when our hearts are aligned with God’s love, they indiscriminately show His love to others, no matter how we are treated by them. 

“Charity doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5). 

The more we love God, the easier it is to love others as we are called to do. And what decisively sets us apart from the hateful groups of people who claim to be Christians is the love we have for people that God gives us. 

The more we love God, the easier it is to love others as we are called to do. — Kirsten Oss

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). 

God’s children are to be marked with a clear, distinct love for others. 

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). 

So as long as we follow God’s will and reflect His love, we will not be controlled by the hate Christians are sometimes thought to have. We will be a testimony of how God’s salvific love results in a selfless love for others, not hatred. 

“Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt.  5:14a, 16).