Quick! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say:
Christians are ______________.
How did you answer? Did you say loving? Kind? Selfless? Or maybe you gave an answer along the lines of boring, disengaged, or judgmental. (Unfortunately, those answers are pretty common among believers and unbelievers alike.)
How about annoying?
Just for kicks, I typed in “Christians are…” into Google search, and much to my surprise, annoying was the first response to pop up. (Now, to be fair, Google didn’t have many pleasant things to say about plenty of other religions, either.)
At first I thought, “Well, that’s not too bad, I guess. There are worse things to be than annoying.” (Murderous, for one thing.) But then I got to thinking about it, and it occurs to me that annoying is probably the worst thing we could be—maybe even worse than “disengaged.”
An annoyance is something that irritates but doesn’t demand your full attention. An itch you can’t quite reach. A popcorn kernel stuck in your teeth. A Facebook friend who posts too many photos of her baby. Those things are annoying, but at the end of the day, they hardly make a dent on your day, let alone impact your life.
Colossians 4:6 instructs believers to be winsome, saying, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” I’ve always wondered what the deal is with salt in the Bible. Of all the things we should strive to be like, salt doesn’t seem like the obvious goal. But then it struck me: There is nothing more annoying to me than going to a restaurant and ordering my favorite dish, only to receive a bland, lukewarm meal.
Usually, when that happens, the dish isn’t so unpalatable that I have to send it back. I just tolerate it and leave a passive-aggressively bad tip.
It seems like I always hear Christians lamenting being persecuted in the United States. And maybe some of us are being persecuted. But I would venture to say that our culture isn’t persecuting us; it’s tolerating us.
You might be thinking, “Hold on, hold on. Let’s back up here. Who’s to say Christians really ARE annoying? Maybe that’s just the opinion of a handful of people.” Allow me to point out, with all humor and grace, that this kind of response is, well… kind of annoying. Defensiveness usually is.
Let’s grant that perhaps Christians, as a whole, can be a little bit irritating. It couldn’t hurt to try to be more winsome, am I right?
After all, we are meant to be influencers of culture. Being annoying is the worst thing Christians can be because it renders us powerless. No one makes a major life change like, say, devoting himself to Jesus Christ, thanks to the power of annoyance.
Our winning love, our grace, our patience, and our kindness—in sum, the fruit of our lives—should be so savory and sweet that people crave our company. People should walk away from hanging out with us feeling refreshed, not irked, annoyed, or bored.
What do you think: Are Christians, as a whole, annoying when we’re at our worst? How can we be more winsome, so that people may be attracted to Jesus through our lives?
PS: You know what else is annoying? When our photos won't show up. Sigh. :)