Christians are very used to being criticised for all sorts of things. The churches are too wealthy, the leaders too focussed on power, the believers do not care enough for the poor…

Generally there are very good answers to these accusations, and it is easy to dismiss them as the arrogance of unbelievers. Yet perhaps there is a need to listen to what lies beneath these claims. While these people might be trying to find reasons not to submit their lives to God, they might also be reacting out of a genuine sense of what Christianity should be. The high standard that the world places on the church might actually be a prophetic call for us to rethink the way that we live.

Back in the fifth century, there was a very passionate preacher called John Chrysostom who once said to his church :

“Do you know why the heathen refuse to believe us? Because they expect us to prove the truth of our teaching by deeds and not by words; when they see us building fine houses and buying baths and gardens and broad lands they do not believe that we really regard our time here on earth as simply a preparation for eternal life…thus do we betray the mission that Christ has entrusted to us.”

Maybe God is using our most vocal critics to call us to look again at how we live and where our priorities lie.