New Christians quite often have misconceptions about God, the Christian life and other believers. This look at the common misconceptions of Christianity is designed to dispel some of the myths that typically hinder new Christians from growing and maturing in the faith.
1 - Once you become a Christian, God will solve all of your problems.
Many new Christians are shocked when the first trial or serious crisis hits. Here’s a reality check — get prepared — the Christian life is not always easy! You will still face ups and downs, challenges and joys. You will have problems and troubles to overcome. This verse offers encouragement for Christians facing difficult situations:
1 Peter 4:12-13
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (NIV)
2 - Becoming a Christian means giving up all fun and following a life of rules.
A joyless existence of mere rule-following is not true Christianity and the abundant life God intends for you. Rather, this describes a man-made experience of legalism. God has amazing adventures planned for you. These verses give a description of what it means to experience God’s life:
Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is all right. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 2:9
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — (NIV)
3 - All Christians are loving, perfect people.
Well, it doesn’t take very long to discover that this is not true. But being prepared to meet the imperfections and failures of your new family in Christ can spare you future pain and disillusionment. Although Christians strive to be like Christ, we will never obtain complete sanctification until we stand before the Lord. In fact, God uses our imperfections to “grow us” in the faith. If not, there would be no need to forgive one another.
As we learn to live in harmony with our new family, we rub each other like sandpaper. It’s painful at times, but the result brings about a smoothing and softening to our rough edges.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)
4 - Bad things don’t happen to truly godly Christians.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead … (NIV)
This point goes along with point number one, however, the focus is slightly different. Often Christians begin to wrongly believe that if they live a godly Christian life, God will protect them from pain and suffering. Paul, a hero of the faith, suffered much:
2 Corinthians 11:24-26
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. (NIV)
Some faith groups believe the Bible promiseshealth, wealth and prosperity for all who live a godly life. But this teaching is false. Jesus never taught this to his followers. You may experience these blessings in your life, but they are not a reward for godly living. At times we experience tragedy, pain and loss in life. This is not always a result of sin, as some would claim, but rather, for a greater purpose that we may not understand immediately. We may never understand, but we can trust God in these difficult times, and know he has a purpose.
Rick Warren says in his popular book, The Purpose Driven Life - “Jesus did not die on the cross just so we could live comfortable, well-adjusted lives. His purpose is far deeper: He wants to make us like himself before he takes us to heaven.”
1 Peter 1:6-7
So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.(NLT)
5 - Christian ministers and missionaries are more spiritual than other believers.
This is a subtle but persistent misconception that we carry in our minds as believers. Because of this false notion, we end up putting ministers and missionaries on “spiritual pedestals” accompanied by unrealistic expectations. When one of these heroes falls from our self-constructed perch, it tends to make us fall too — away from God. Don’t let this happen in your life. You may have to continually guard yourself against this subtle deception.
Paul, Timothy’s spiritual father, taught him this truth - we are all sinners on an equal playing field with God and each other:
1 Timothy 1:15-16
This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.(NLT)
6 - Christian churches are always safe places, where you can trust everyone.
Although this should be true, it is not. Unfortunately we live in a fallen world where evil resides. Not everyone who enters the church has honorable intentions, and even some who do come with good intentions can fall back into old patterns of sin. One of the most dangerous places in Christian churches, if not properly guarded, is the children’s ministry. Churches that don’t implement background checks, team led classrooms, and other security measures, leave themselves open to many dangerous threats.
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (NKJV)
7 - Christians should never say anything that might offend someone or hurt someone else’s feelings.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (KJV)
Many new believers have a wrong understanding of meekness and humility. The idea of godly meekness involves having strength and courage, but the kind of strength that is submitted to God’s control. True humility recognizes complete dependence upon God and knows we have no goodness except that which is found in Christ. Sometimes our love for God and our fellow Christians, and obedience to God’s Word compels us to speak words that may hurt someone’s feelings or offend them. Some people call this “tough love.”
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (NIV)
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (NIV)
8 - As a Christian you should not associate with unbelievers.
I am always saddened when I hear so called “seasoned” believers teaching this false notion to new Christians. Yes, it is true that you may have to break off some of the unhealthy relationships you have had with people from your past life of sin. At least for awhile you may need to do this until you are strong enough to resist the temptations of your old lifestyle. However, Jesus, our example, made it his mission (and ours) to associate with sinners. How will we attract those who need a Savior, if we don’t build relationships with them?
1 Corinthians 9:22-23
When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings. (NLT)
9 - Christians should not enjoy any earthly pleasures.
I believe God created all of the good, wholesome, enjoyable, and fun things we have on this earth as a blessing for us to enjoy. The key is not holding on to these earthly things too tightly. We should grasp and enjoy our blessings with our palms held open and tilted up.
And (Job) said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (NIV)
10 - Christians always feel close to God.
As a new Christian you may feel very close to God. Your eyes have just been opened to a brand new, exciting life with God. However, you should be prepared for dry seasons in your walk with God. They are bound to come. A life-long walk of faith requires trust and commitment even when you don’t feel close to God. In these verses, David expresses sacrifices of praise to God in the midst of spiritual times of drought:
[A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.] O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (NIV)
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” (NIV)