If you emotionally and mentally short circuit while watching the bizarre beliefs and actions of non-Christians become literally more bizarre on a daily basis, then I recommend you take the advice I heard William Lane Craig dole out on one of his podcasts: Don’t expect non-Christians to think and live like Christians.
Don’t you feel better now?
Trust me, letting this truth settle into your soul is calming for you as well as for the unbelievers with which you interact. You won’t go insane trying to figure out why people do what they do and you’ll be much less likely to wag your finger at non-Christians and instruct them to fall in line with a standard to which they can’t adhere.
That’s right – it’s not just that they don’t want to live by God’s laws, they can’t obey His standards for living.
Listen to what Paul says: “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8, my emphasis). Paul also writes to the Corinthians, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14, my emphasis).
This inherent moral inability is also why Jesus said this about salvation: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44) and why Paul told his readers: “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18).
Witnessing to but not expecting or coercing non-Christians to live like Christians benefits everyone, but here’s the rub: don’t expect the other side to return the favor.
Live and let die
Jesus’ first-century world had every appearance of live and let live where religion was concerned. Lots of people, lots of gods, and lots of different moral and religious practices.
Fast forward 2,000 years and you have the same type of thin veneer of acceptance in our culture. Words like diversity, inclusion, etc., all dominate the airwaves, corporate HR departments and entertainment.
But just like in Jesus’ day, if a Christian steps out of the invisible boundaries set by those dominating the secular culture or makes any exclusive claims about morality and God, then live and let live becomes live and let die. Put another way: non-Christians expect Christians to ultimately and practically go about life in public like non-Christians.
We’re expected to accept, celebrate and participate in the reality-bending assertions and anti-Biblical behaviors of unbelievers. We’re required to stay silent and compliant as God is systematically removed from society. We’re told not to push our beliefs on anyone, yet sit back quietly while the beliefs of others are pushed on us.
This is the double standard of the secular philosophy marinating our culture in its faith. And it is a faith, one even recognized by the IRS.
Philosopher John Dewey admitted such in his book A Common Faith, where he says: “Let’s take it [humanism] and make it the militant religion of the public schools. … Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race. Such a faith has always been implicitly the common faith of mankind. It remains to make it explicit and militant.”
Its double standard tells us to keep our religion out of the public realm, while simultaneously telling us its religion should be welcomed and have a home in society. Its reasoning, though, fails at all levels as one Christian leader said: “To say religious reasoning must be kept out of the public square because it’s faith-based and controversial is itself a faith-based statement which is incredibly controversial, and therefore on its own terms ought to be thrown out.”
The amusing but sad thing about humanism and the pragmatic philosophy that it trumpets is that its litmus test for truth — does the prescribed teaching ‘work’ — doesn’t work. Not at all. When you have super woke CEOs like that of Starbucks admitting that current public policies are destroying society, you know something’s up.
Fine, but what about the outworkings of Christianity? Doesn’t it poison everything as the late atheist Christopher Hitchens said?
First, we have to admit that history shows marrying Christianity and politics has mostly resulted in disaster and the very thing the Bible says you can’t do: make non-Christians live like Christians. But when the Christian faith is practiced as Christ taught, then it’s a radically different story.
Back in the first century, the religion that the Greeks and Romans hated and falsely accused as being exclusivist became the most inclusive of all faiths. Why? Because the secular false religion proved to be hypocritically false, while Christianity justified itself.
In the Christian church, were there rich and poor divisions like those in Athens and Rome? No, all were welcomed and treated equally. What about the racial divides as seen with the Jews and Samaritans? Again, all were accepted and treated the same.
The reason that happened and Christianity subsequently exploded is because believers back then understood that God chooses the lowly (1 Cor. 1:26-31) and that they were many times inferior when it came to measuring up to others in the world. Their understanding of God’s grace produced great humility and thus they mirrored Christ who loved those that hated and crucified Him.
Admittedly that is hard to do as is this: “when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate” (1 Cor. 4:12). But if you think you can’t hack it, I’ve got good news for you: you actually can. Remember, “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.