Recently, someone called out “fake Christians” on my Twitter feed. I was labeled fake as a standard attack from non-Christians, especially those hurt by the Church. I know from personal experience. I once felt wounded by the Church, and I used the “fake Christian” dig to call out what I viewed as hypocrisy.
As followers of Christ, we know one thing for sure — we are imperfect and will always be that is why we need Jesus. Acknowledging that and accepting the grace we’ve freely received because of His life, death, and resurrection is the very foundation of Christianity.
It is tempting to assign the “fake Christian” label to someone who claims to be a Christ-follower, yet their lifestyle doesn’t reflect it. In Matthew 7:17-20, Jesus says, “by their fruit, you will recognize them.” Thankfully, he is merciful when our fruit is less-than-sweet. Through Christ, we have been set apart and made righteous in His sight. We are called to pursue holiness, and it is there that we can enjoy a life of peace and closeness to the Lord. Yet, in our humanness, we will miss the mark most of the time. Does that make us fake or simply a work in progress?
How do we differentiate a fake Christian from an authentic Christian? It comes down to this: a “real Christian” will deeply desire to please God and bear good fruit, even if it takes a lifetime. Ideally, we would never have to use any fear when using the word “Christian,” be it fake, natural, or otherwise.
If someone questions your walk with God, it might be an opportunity for self-reflection: “What kind of fruit am I producing?” Or, when it comes in the form of a judgmental attack, we can rest in the truth that our faith is intact and only God knows the sincerity of our hearts toward Christ.
When the attacks come, we have three options:
- We can get our feelings hurt, act like the world, and yell or mean tweet back.
- We can use the opportunity to point out that when Christians make a mistake, they do not lose their proper standing in Christ nor become “fake.” Jesus stood in the gap for us and died in place of the punishment for our sins. The difference between a Christian and someone who is not coming down to whether the person believes and receives the truth of the Gospel.
- We can acknowledge that sinful lifestyles, hypocrisy, false teachings, and “bad fruit” have caused hurt inside and outside the Church. Yes, some people call themselves Christians but do not live for Him. It does not diminish the truth of the Gospel.
Option one is not a viable option. We must assume they do not fully understand what it means to walk with Christ. Options two and three are personal preferences. We must remember that when we are under any attack, we are still ambassadors for Christ, and we must act according to His will.
Although you will unlikely change the mind of such provocateurs, you may show them enough grace to break down one or several barriers that might help someone else. Instead of getting your feelings hurt or your ire raised, be thankful for the opportunity to share the Gospel with someone who brings the subject up to you.