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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One Day’s Wages

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Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter

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