If I had a dollar for every time I heard the words respect my beliefs, I would have enough money to invest in a thick, weighty Bible to take my Bible-Thumpin’ to the next level! (I’m kidding, obviously, but seriously…I’d have a nice chunk of change.) These words are bothersome enough coming out of the mouths of non-Christians. It’s even worse coming from Christians.
It certainly does seem like the right thing to say. It seems like kindness and love. Respect my beliefs, I’ll respect yours, and we’ll all just live in peace and harmony. Except, that will never happen. Frankly, that’s not what God has called us to do. We’re called to preach the Gospel. Just a friendly reminder for Christians: sharing the Gospel may require telling non-Christians what they believe is wrong. Certainly, that isn’t respecting their beliefs. However, refusing to share the Gospel so you don’t step on anyone’s toes, well, that isn’t love. And like I said, that’s not what God has called us to do.
Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m, in no way, implying that we need to be jerks about our faith. We don’t need to make fun of non-Christians or call them names. If they have questions about Christianity, laughing derisively accomplishes nothing. Of course, we defend our faith with grace and kindness. But, the key point here is we defend our faith, not theirs.
I don’t expect non-Christians to respect my beliefs because I won’t respect theirs. Sounds harsh, I know, but hear me out. I will respect you as a human being. I don’t care if you’re atheist, agnostic, Muslim, or Hindu: if you were in need and I was in a position to help you, I would. I will defend your right to worship (or not worship) however you please. I will treat you with love, compassion, grace, and kindness. But…I will not respect your beliefs.
Living harmoniously with individuals who believe differently than I do is not that same as respect for opposing beliefs. Believe it or not, not every single person I know believes exactly like I do. Crazy, right? But, being able to sit down and enjoy the company of a non-Christian isn’t respecting their beliefs. I could go to the home of a Muslim, Atheist, Buddhist, or Jew, join them for dinner, and probably have a nice time. However, if they do not believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, I cannot respect that. Any belief that doesn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah and a head of the trinity is heresy and no, I don’t respect it. Our society is obsessed with acceptance and inclusivity. If that is what we’re going to strive for, we need to be prepared to take that all the way. If you are going to expect Christians to respect the beliefs of Muslims or Atheists, are you also prepared to respect the beliefs of the Westboro Baptist “Church”? How about the Latin Kings? Are you going to defend and respect their beliefs? The KKK? NAMBLA? ISIS? Yes, those are some extreme examples, but if you are going to say “respect everyones’ beliefs” than you need to be prepared to apply that to everyone.
At the risk of coming across as snarky and overly-sarcastic, let me assure you, dear Christian, that there are plenty of non-Christians who do not respect your beliefs. As a matter of fact, globally, Christians are the most persecuted religious group. (check out this video) However, this isn’t simply about resiprosity. This isn’t a toddler-like tantrum where we pound our fists and say, “Well fine! If you can’t respect us, we won’t respect you! HMPH!) This is about adhering to what Scripture has said. This is about obeying the commands God has given us.
Yes, we love our neighbor, absolutely. Jesus told us that the greatest commands are: love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). However, Jesus also warned us that they would hate us because they hated Him first. We are to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). We are to defend our faith and defend Christ (Luke 21:12-19). And yes, we are to beware of false teachings (1 Timothy 4). We cannot do all that when we appease our culture and refuse to defend true religion.
In conclusion, I know this blog isn’t warm and fuzzy, but I hope it gave you something to think about. Perhaps, it’s time to remove the COEXIST bumper sticker from your car and replace it with a Gospel message. Quit telling your non-Christian friends that you respect their heretical beliefs and start defending Christ.
God bless you all