Do Christians try to force their views on unbelievers? Do we expect unbelievers to act like us? If so, is that really the correct approach toward the unbeliever? When unbelievers live moral lives by human standards, does that mean it will be more difficult for them to be saved because they won’t recognize their sins?
Recently I heard a caller on a Christian talk show say something like “I don’t understand why we are so shocked when unbelievers act the way they do. That’s just their nature and they’re supposed to act like that. What we as Christians should be concerned about is our own behavior if we are acting like unbelievers.”
It’s true that we Christians should watch how we act to make sure we keep God’s commandments, but I fail to see any truth in the criticism that we force our views on others. Unbelievers and some Christians think that sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is forcing our beliefs on them, but it isn’t. We are just speaking what we were commanded to speak by God and our freedom of speech is no different than an unbeliever bragging about who they
fornicated slept with over the weekend or them inviting us to a wild party or them urging us to curse someone out and seek revenge on someone who did us wrong. If they want to be allowed to share their ungodly views with us, they should show us the same courtesy when we share our Christian views with them. We believe, therefore we speak [1 Corinthians 4:13]. Woe is me if I preach not the gospel [1 Corinthians 9:16].
Should we expect the unsaved to act like us and is it wrong if we do? This can be answered with this question– what was the purpose of the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20? He said “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The Bible, from start to finish, is the story of how God expects all men to be holy like him, not just to act holy. So, yes, we should have the same expectations that God has, which means we desire unbelievers to be like us in the sense that we are following Christ. We have an expectation that the unsaved will be like and act like us by obeying Christ’s commands, not our man-made traditions. This isn’t wrong and we shouldn’t allow people to make us feel guilty that this is the goal because there are a whole bunch of positive things that come with confessing Jesus as Lord and putting his word into practice.
Why did God punish individuals and nations in the Bible and in history? Wasn’t it because they refused to be like him? Wasn’t it because they disobeyed his commandments and persecuted his people and hardened their hearts against his prophets? Why did God’s prophets prophesy? They wanted to obey God and they also expected the unbelieving to be like them and repent of their sins. Is this arrogant? Of course not. It’s actually humility because they knew that but for the grace of God, they would not be delivered from the impending danger of God’s judgment in this life and in the next life, so they didn’t want to see lives and nations destroyed because of sin and wanted to see lives and nations blessed by living up to God’s standards.
We actually should be shocked when we see unbelievers act the way they do because of our hatred for sin and because the gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached throughout the world. Men no longer have an excuse for clinging to sin. As Paul said to the people of Athens in Acts 17, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
And again in Romans 1 Paul says “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…” Even the atheist knows deep down inside that God exists, but he postulates and speculates with theories that, when correctly scrutinized and thoroughly tested, don’t hold water. God has made his existence obvious all over the world and no one has any valid excuse for not believing that Jesus is the only Lord. This is the whole premise on which the book of Revelation is based. After God gives all of mankind ample time to turn from their wicked ways, he unleashes his final judgments in the last of the last days because they should have repented and chose not to.
So when we try to promote just, godly behavior in our laws, does this hinder a sinner from realizing he needs Christ’s salvation, as has been argued by some? Should we really legislate morality? No, promoting godly laws doesn’t hinder sinners from being saved. Many of us who are saved were considered good by human standards and may have been told we were good people before we got saved, but when we heard the gospel, we clearly saw our need to have Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
And yes, morality can and should be legislated. This is why God ordained the powers that be [see Romans 13:1-7]. It is when the powers that be withdraw from legislating morality that human life becomes devalued by such things as human trafficking and abortion, that lawlessness becomes the order of the day where proper authority is not respected, and that God’s judgment is poured out to punish nations. Those who claim morality cannot be legislated are liars and hypocrites because they tear down laws that are against their set of “morals” only to put in place laws that agree with their “morality.” Don’t believe me? Just look at the gay rights movement.