In my case, it's a sad commentary that I have experienced first hand. Our next door neighbors are a a pair of older gay men. They have been our neighbors for over 12 years. Of all the neighbors that have come and gone, these two are our favorites. They are some of the nicest, most caring people I've ever met. Through the years they have taken many opportunities to bless us and frankly their concern and encouragement has at times far exceeded our own Christian community. They are what they are. They just do what they are. The are "nice" people. They are not saved but their experiences and perhaps their personalities given them by God have made them thoughtful, caring and nice. We enjoy talking and visiting with them.
One of our previous next door neighbors was a Minister. Doctrinally we differed on one thing. He was Calvinist in his thinking. We are Armenian. Some would rule this as a large difference, but we both knew that the basic foundation of our faith was being born again by the Spirit of God. When we visited, we talked of Christ and it was very nice. He lived what he professed because he believed that without change at salvation, there truly was no salvation.
Another neighbor down the street is also Christian. In fact, they believe very closely what we believe except for one thing. They are Baptist and we are Pentecostal. Yet, our foundation is the same-Jesus Christ. When we first moved here I was hoping that we could fellowship together and work at winning our neighbors to Christ. It was not to be. While they are very friendly to everyone else on the street, they treat us as if we don't exist. We drive by their house on our way out of the neighborhood and if they are outside, they don't wave. They walk by our house when I'm sitting on the porch and they pretend that they don't see me. The woman walks a lot with others. When I tried to walk with her one day she told me that she uses her walks as her prayer time and didn't want to walk with me. The only time they are friendly towards us is when their ministry sponsors a welcome dinner for new International students at the local university. Then they knock on the door with a big smile and ask if we would like to donate. At first our church did. We even attended the event to meet International students and signed up to host them for a meal in our homes. Funny, only one family from our church in 4 years was assigned a student to have to their home even though we all signed up. I can't help thinking it's not by coincidence. The other day I was driving up the street and she and another woman were walking in front of my house. I was pretty close to them because I was parking. I smiled and waved, which I always do, and she acted as if she didn't see me, even though I could have very easily run over her with my car. In the community they portray themselves as such great Christians yet they treat their own brothers and sisters in Christ like this.
I've discovered that sinners are not dumb. They see and experience this kind of behavior from Christians all the time. Didn't Christ Himself say that they will know we belong to Him because of our love for one another? Yet, they see this kind of thing within the Christian community all the time. The arrogance and loveless behavior of our neighbors perplexes and saddens me. On the outside they pretend to be good people but their behavior towards us is their true identification. You see, when you belong to Christ, you treat all people with love, saint and sinner alike. Christians need to stop acting and start asking for the fruit of the Spirit. You can act the part of a Christian or you can truly let God make you one. Just be what God has made you. You are a new creature. Old prejudices and judgments have passed away. Behold! All things become new! And that includes your disposition. To me our neighbors practice fake religion because they cannot even be civil, much less begin to act loving towards us. What is in their hearts? If we had ever done anything to them, it might make sense but we have never done anything to make them feel this way towards us that we know of. They have steered people away from our church, even lying about us when they have never passed through our doors, not even once.
If you want to act loving, do it because the love of Christ truly rules in your heart. Don't act kind, be kind. Don't act merciful, be merciful. Don't say to yourself that you should act a certain way because you are Christian, act that way because being a Christian has made you that way! There is a huge difference! Just BE what you profess. If you aren't what you know you should be, yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him do that work in you. Then you don't have to work so hard to carry on the facade. Facades will deliver failure and souls may be in the balance. JUST BE! JUST BE!