January 26, 2024

Why Do Christians Make People Uncomfortable?

R.C. Sproul
Why Do Christians Make People Uncomfortable?

There is a reason why unbelievers grow uneasy or agitated by Christians: we are redeemed representatives of the Holy One. Today, R.C. Sproul illustrates this discomfort and explains its relationship to the gospel.


The Bible tells us that it is the reaction of fallen creatures to flee when no man pursues, that the pagan trembles at the rustling of a leaf.

I tell a story of a friend of mine who was a professional golfer, and he was out one afternoon getting ready to play in a tournament on the tour. And on the day before the tournament started, there was a practice round, and the practice round was made up of a foursome. The man who was the reigning champion of this particular event, who also was the previous year’s player of the year, and he had three people playing with him in this tournament: he had Jack Nicklaus, he had the president of the United States, and he had Billy Graham. So, you can imagine a foursome of Nicklaus, the reigning guy (I’m not going to give you his name), the president of the United States, and Billy Graham.

So, my friend watched these guys tee off, and then he did his practice, and then, at the end of the day, he watched when this foursome finished their round. And his buddy, the other golfer, came off the eighteenth green, and my friend walked up to him, and he said, “Tell me what it was like playing golf with Billy Graham.” And the guy snapped at him, about bit his head off. He says, “I don’t need to have him trying to shove religion down my throat.” And he stormed off and went to the practice tee, got a bucket of balls, took out his driver, and started beating those balls to death.

And my friend just patiently stood there and watched him until the guy cooled off, and he finally said to him, he said, “Did Billy really come on strong to you on the golf course?” The guy sighed and put his driver in his bag, and he turned to my friend and he said, “No.” He said, “No, actually,” he said: “Billy never said a word. I just had a bad round.”

What’s going on there? This guy was very uncomfortable in the presence of Billy Graham. Billy never said a word to him, but everybody in the world knew what Billy Graham stood for and what he represented. And this man was uncomfortable and probably would have gone home and said, “Billy Graham is one of these holier-than-thous, self-righteous, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

If you’re a Christian, you never have to say a word to anybody. If people know you’re a Christian, you’re going to be accused of being self-righteous even if you’ve never thought about being self-righteous because you represent something that actually none of us are in and of ourselves: you represent the One who is holy. And there is a natural built-in discomfort with every human being. That’s why people flee from God. That’s why churches compromise the integrity of the message of the Scripture—because we know people are afraid of the God who really is.

That’s the great tragedy because what Christianity is saying to all of us is that in Christ, God removes the veil. He doesn’t stop being holy, but He gives to us the righteousness of Christ. So, He said: “You can come into my presence. You don’t have to be afraid. I’m giving you peace. I’m giving you access. Come near to Me.” But it’s the hardest thing that we ever can learn.

And there’s a sense in which, even in Christ, we will always have, I hope, a healthy fear—the fear of respect, the fear of awe—that when we contemplate who He is, we will still have the capacity to tremble before Him.