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Controversial and Thought-Provoking Articles for the Savvy Christian

Why Are Christians Cruel to Each Other?

Posted By Denise Miller Holmes on Tuesday

Savvy Article #1002

The world is teeming with Christians who leave churches and hibernate because other believers have deeply wounded them. Many of the wounders are pastors and leaders.

I used to think the biggest reason Christians treat each other despicably was interpersonal ignorance and lack of responsibility. I’ve heard leaders judge the wounded for leaving. “You don’t leave church just because you’ve been hurt. . . .”In my experience, there are few leaders who take responsibility when they wound another, and even fewer actively teach their followers how to behave in love toward each other.

But a new culprit has come to light, and it has to do with American Christians’ false beliefs about Satan.To many Christians in the United States, Satan is a lazy, beer-drinking slob, who is past his heyday. He sits in his double-wide, waves a menacing hand at his minions and screams, “More Cheetos! Now! American Idol is about to come on!” Once in a while, Satan gets in a hard punch, like floods or 911. But, mostly, the battles we face are people problems, government problems, or general life problems. Satan is not the problem.

The Bible disagrees. “Satan is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

I wonder how Christians would act if they actually believed that verse. Would we be more compassionate, tender, forgiving, kind and loving to each other? Would we listen more and take the time to get into each others’ worlds?  Would power plays and pettiness become infrequent guests to our relationships?

Yes, because there is nothing as powerful as a common enemy, a true enemy, to unify a group of people.

Let’s think 911. The day of the attack, we saw Congress singing on the Capital steps, and every American was our ally.

Congressmen let go of disagreements and said that the only thing that mattered was our brotherhood as a nation. Unity was the word. Some of the talk was sentimental congress-speak, but a lot was genuine. Interviews on the streets reflected the same mentality  . . .  now was the time to forgive our fellow American and be friends.

One might be tempted to argue that there is one thing more powerful than a common enemy … the Love of God. Well, yes, the Love of God is powerful to unify, but it must be thoroughly realized to have its full effect.

Last I checked, American believers are still backbiting, gossiping, rejecting, betraying, and committing a whole host of other hurts to fellow brothers and sisters. Most of them, when asked, will tell you they believe in the Love of God.

The Twin Towers attack taught us a lesson about this too. Starting the day of and for months after, the nation crammed into churches! We spoke of God, and prayer, and love. This was an amazing phenomenon, but we shouldn’t be surprised because there is nothing as powerful as an enemy to make us realize, and cling to, the Love of God.

According to Scripture, Christians are supposed to be unified and clinging to God, with a common vision and goal.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17: 22, 23 (NIV)

Combine the above verse with the one below, and you’ll see that our true enemy is not other people:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

In other words, our focus is not supposed to be on gaining power over each other—bickering over what color of foyer carpet to choose, why John shouldn’t head the pastoral-search committee, or what others thought of our brownies at the bake sale. Sorry, none of this matters.

What matters is that we love God, love each other (and all that entails), build the kingdom of God on this earth, and fight our Enemy—together!

The body of Christ is not the Rotary club, but, we often treat it like it is.

We are to be united under the banner of a loving God, with our focus on God, and marching forward against a common enemy.

When we march forward, we may leave behind a chartreuse foyer carpet, a fumbling idiot in charge of the committee, and a bake sale everyone hated. But, with the focus where it needs to be, none of that will matter.

About The Author

Denise Miller Holmes
Denise Miller Holmes enjoys teaching biblical topics, and especially researching and communicating what Christians believe about the world around them. She sometimes turns established viewpoints on end. A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Journalism, Denise also has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, and has been a Christian for over 35 years. She belongs to the writers’ groups Words for the Journey and American Christian Fiction Writers.


14 Responses to “Why Are Christians Cruel to Each Other?”

  1. Jan Parrish says:

    Wow. You nailed it. No wonder it was a hard one to write. Great article.

  2. Kay says:

    Great post, Denise! Very true and very thought provoking.
    It’s about Covenant, too, huh. Same enemy. But we get confused.

  3. Danica says:

    Nice post Denise!! It’s like you were listening in on some of us talking about the very subject today. :)

  4. Jan: I really struggled with the words of this post yesterday, as you know. I kept thinking, “what is wrong with me?” Perhaps it wasn’t me, but our common Enemy?
    Kay: Yes. Absolutely. When we covenant with God, His enemies become our enemies.
    Danica: Well, I’d already posted this article before Words for the Journey, but it does always seem that the same message can come to us in a short period of time. He seems to work that way. I’m sure you didn’t mean that I’d stolen the idea. :D
    Thank you, ladies for your comments!

  5. Wow Denise, you spoke it like it truly is. Hard hitting post but right on.

  6. Denise, this is such a powerful post. So true that our complacency as a nation is one of our enemy’s greatest tools. And we’re slowly destroying each other and ourselves with it. I hope and pray that we as Christian writers can use our voices to bring these issues to light. Just like you’ve done with this post. Blessings on your day!

  7. JodyHedlund says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and adding to the discussion! It’s so good to hear other opinions! And I enjoyed reading your insights on why Christians are hurtful to one another. Thank you!

  8. Sara: you are right about the “destroying ourselves.” When we don’t have a common enemy, we turn on each other!
    Jody: You’re welcome, and I am so glad you visited my blog and that you enjoyed the read.

  9. Robbie Iobst says:

    Denise, love, love, love the imagery of Satan in a double-wide! :0) I completely agree with your premis. The enemy loves to pit us against each other and we just don’t take his powers seriously. Well written article my friend! And no monkeys in sight. :0)

  10. Robbie, I think the monkeys all went to their own double-wide. I haven’t seen ‘em in awhile. Anyway, thanks for commenting. I’m glad I could inform and make you smile, too.

  11. Bravo, Denise! I have a number of friends, who are missionaries in Africa and who come from that continent. They know the enemy of our souls is real. American Christians are burying their heads in the sand.

    Thanks for tugging on their collars and pointing out the obvious.


  12. Susan, I agree that US Christians who travel to the third world see Satan’s activities in a more obvious way. It is too bad that most American Christians have not witnessed these activities. If we could witness them, we would not be insulated as we are. Thank you for coming to my site and commenting!

  13. Looks like I’m late to the party – but I’m really getting so much out of every post you’ve written. I feel compelled to share them! Thank you.

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