Eugene Cho

please, don’t be a jerk

In a pluralistic world of a plethora of thoughts, ideas, philosophies, and worldviews, it makes total sense to me that Christians need to be equipped and engaged in “contending” for the Gospel.

I get it. I really do.

It’s a larger marketplace of ideas and as such Christians ought to engage this marketplace. We’re no longer entitled the majority of market share – if we’ve even ever held that distinction.

But here’s one thing I’d like to convey: In the pursuit of contending for the gospel:

Please, don’t be a jerk.

Because honestly, “Christian jerks” are a tragic paradox – especially when they think they are doing the Kingdom a great favor.

Let’s contend for the Gospel but let’s not be jerks in the process. Nowhere do I read in the Scriptures, “Contend for the gospel as a jerk.”

What I’m suggesting isn’t all that radical:

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Ephesians 4:26-27; 31-32

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

This call is apropos to everyone, in my opinion, because if we’re all honest with ourselves,

there’s a little bit jerk within all of us, right?

We don’t have to be mean spirited. We don’t need to pummel someone down into submission…

Or in other words, while I do indeed appreciate the value and importance of theology and doctrine, I would suggest that what will fascinate people to consider the gospel of Christ – will ultimately be…

“how we live our lives.”

The Holy Spirit will convict and change. May our lives simply testify and point to the truth and gospel of Christ.

Here’s a short snippet from a recent sermon from Philippians about not being a jerk:

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27 Responses

  1. Christians often feel we need to be the ones to convince people that they are in a burning building. No matter how hysterical we act, we cannot convince people to get out of the building unless they believe it is on fire. God convinces them it is on fire. Sometimes he uses what we say and do, but he changes their heart. Then we need to be a friend that is there to help.

  2. Bill B says:

    I concurr whole-heartedly. If we love as Jesus loves, then there is no allowance for being a jerk.

  3. randall says:

    I can’t remember where I heard it, but I remember someone saying, “the Gospel is an offense so we don’t have to make it any more offensive.”

    On another note…

    @Jeremy – I agree with you (and PE) that it’s the Holy Spirit that calls us to Christ but if I could push back a bit on your metaphor of the burning building, I think it could feed into the idea that Christianity is primarily about salvation (getting people out of the burning building, removing one’s self from a fallen world). While evangelism is hugely important, I think just as important is the work of redeeming the fallenness of the world (staying in the building and trying to put the fire out, to use your metaphor).

    • Randy Siever says:

      Love the burning building metaphor…and your extension of it here, randall. I’d go as far as to say that staying in the building and trying to put the fire out IS evangelism, in the sense that we become partners with the King who reigns over all creation in His redemption plan for everything He created. Salvation is not just for human beings.

      Romans 8:20-21 (New Living Translation)

      20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

      Make disciples, not just converts. Join with what Jesus is up to in the world to redeem it all. Stay in the building.

    • Ian Ebright says:

      Randall- you heard it from PE, or at least that’s my guess, because I heard the same thing from him during a sermon.

      I like what you did with Jeremy’s metaphor. Too many “rapture ready” Christians…

  4. James says:

    A great little comic that this reminds me of:

  5. Randy Siever says:

    This is our mission at Doable Evangelism: To help Christians share their faith without being jerks.

    Many evangelists I meet challenge this by saying, “The Gospel is an offense to those who are perishing!” Some have even boldly proclaimed that unless we are offending people we are not proclaiming the “true Gospel” therefore. To which I normally reply, “Are you sure it’s the Gospel that’s offending them? Because it would be a real bummer to find out, at the foot of Jesus, it was you.”

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho and Steve Kimes, Ian Clark. Ian Clark said: “'Xians jerks' are a tragic paradox – especially when they think they're doing the Kingdom a gr8t favor." – @EugeneCho http://bit.ly/hjNjaU […]

  7. catesongbird says:

    I totally hear you. I think the other side of the scenario would also be, don’t be a woos when being a contender of the gospel, either. I’ve seen both extremes, and neither work. It’s become quite a trend to be “loving” but I’ve witnessed a lot of Christians confusing love with being nice and playing it safe. Loving also includes being truthful and opposing, when a situation calls for it.

  8. i agree…wholeheartedly. the world is desperate for the love of christ followers who are seeking to know God, not christian jerks who ‘know’ theology. well said, and well thought out….particularly, ‘doctrine does not save people.’

  9. chad m says:

    it seems to me that only time Jesus was a “jerk,” or “offensive” as some like to argue, was when he was talking to religious folk. hmmmmm.

  10. Chris says:

    I’m very touched by this post, and find much to learn from it.

    However…the first quotation is from James, not Timothy. 1 Timothy 1:19-20 sounds NOTHING like that!

  11. debi says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! For being a cup of cold water, and a breath of desperately needed fresh air 😉 Love and Peace to you.

  12. Bob Brooke says:

    We always need to be ready to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, but that doesn’t mean that we’re to be combative. It’s all about standing on the Rock which is Christ, sure and certain because of Him and the truth that is in Him, while at the same time being willing to help others, and in fact helping them, to find their footing in Him. We in Christ don’t reach out with a closed fist, we reach out with an open hand.

  13. Matt D says:

    You sound like a jerk in this post IMHO.

  14. jchenwa says:

    Just like to say, sometimes it’s not that I want to be a jerk, it’s a weakness. I’ve seen in my wife the best heart, but sometimes she says or does things that don’t agree with that. It’s a shortcoming that I too confess to, but after seeing the power of GOD, I ask why did He allow that to overcome me? I think it’s to show that He is GOD and I am not? But moreover, it’s b/c without Him we are truly nothing. He loves us so much, but when we are truly sad about that, it reveals to Him and the universe that we are sons of GOD. We can realize that.

  15. jchenwa says:

    Have you complimented anyone today? Have you appreciated or blessed anyone today? “-)

  16. […] Eugene Cho commented recently, it’s altogether too easy to act like a jerk in the name of “contending” for the […]

  17. […] gone on the record before that I’m cool w/ folks contending for the gospel but not being jerks in the process. And J. Taylor wrote a decent post. He wasn’t being a jerk in my […]

  18. […] Eugene also wrote a post on it. Tags: Eugene Cho Category: Christianity, […]

  19. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Gandhi

  20. […] You’ve heard me already write and rant about the paradox of Christian jerks: […]

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"He Makes All Things New." In other words, Christ is our eternal hope. I'm sitting in my swinging bench on the comforts of my front porch after an exhilarating and exhausting day at church. It never gets tiring, stale, or old to preach and proclaim the good news of the Gospel - not just on Resurrection Sunday but every week as we gather as the body of Christ.

But it was this picture of Coptic Christians in Egypt pouring into churches on Easter Sunday that deeply moved my heart...just a week after two churches were bombed by ISIS terrorists taking 45 lives and injuring hundreds.

Even in the face of persecution and suffering, I'm so grateful for the witness of these sisters and brothers in Christ. May they be comforted and strengthened...and wherever you are reading this post, stay encouraged. Be faithful and steadfast. Don't give up. May we keep running the race set before us as we fix our eyes on Christ.

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Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed! Jesus is alive! Hallelujah! #OneChurch Remember, there is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion; No Easter Sunday without Passion Friday; No empty tomb without the Cross.

So, before we move too swiftly to the celebration of the risen Christ, may we sit at the foot of the Cross...and consider the depths of His sacrifice and love. "Oh, what love is this..." Just when we think we get what it means to follow Him, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples including...the one He knew would betray Him,

and the one that would deny him,

and the others that would abandon Him in His greatest need.

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What amazing grace. Oh. What. Amazing. Grace. M(inhee) + E(ugene). Not taking anything for granted. 20 years = 7300 days = 175,200 hours. A flourishing  marriage doesn't just happen. The idea that two Christians who choose to get married will produce a Christ honoring marriage is a gigantic myth. Its also extremely dangerous. The truth is that it takes so much intentionality and work. Intimacy definitely includes physical touch but is not only about physical touch. We have to pray, read, listen, learn, mutually submit, confess, forgive, repent, laugh, dream, rest, play, and the list goes on.

In other words, we have to keep Christ at the center because it's inevitable, there's a lot of messing up. So much messing up. It's both beautiful and painful and without grace, it's impossible.

Grateful. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace. And thank you, Minhee...

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