I have become disturbed with what Christianity has become in today’s society. Christianity is now just a label for those who do good works; those who usually go to church every Sunday, who volunteer with the Salvation Army every Christmas, and have a fish sticker on the back of their car. But they get no deeper than that. The only thing that makes them “different”, is their Christian label. But the average “Christian” does not own up to this label – at least not by their lifestyle. I’m not just saying this because it’s what I’ve heard before. The church that I attended for seven years of my life was full of these kinds of Christians. They would spend all night at the local small – town bar Saturday, blaspheme the Lord’s name (amongst other profanity), engage in sinful activities, and get up early for church Sunday. They were only hearers of the Word, if even hearing it at only, and if not only attending to fulfill their felt obligation to feel justified to bear their Christian title. And this is what so many do. So many use profanity, read and watch sinful material, participate in wicked activities, and still show up every Sunday morning. They’d listen to the message, then get up Monday morning to assume their weekly life-style.
How can they do this? How is it possible that they don’t feel the guilt and shame of being that kind of witness and testimony to Christ?
They’ve forgotten, assuming they ever knew, what it means to be a true Christian: to be a believer in Christ. I know I say this a lot, but it remains true: following Christ isn’t easy, and it wasn’t intended to be. But isn’t following Christ only half of what He deserves for dying a cruel death for us to be free? Isn’t obeying His Word something we should automatically be doing, as He is to be our First Love? Yet we’ve ignored this to our own benefit. How are we surrendering ourselves to Christ and making Him first in our lives when we still cling to the things of the world we were supposed to leave behind when we decided to follow Him? It’s simple: we can’t. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”. (Matthew 6:24) Insert anything else for the word “money” – the same principle applies. What do we love? What consumes our time, energy, and thoughts? This is the true test of where we have placed Christ in our lives. Either He is front and center, or He is sitting on that dusty shelf in the back of your mind, where He has eagerly waited for you to repent and return to Him.
So what is the true meaning of “Christian”? It’s defined in the Webster’s dictionary as “Believer in Christ; pertaining to believers in Christ or to their churches; consistent with the teachings of Christ”. Believe means to “ accept as true or truthful; have faith; accept the existence of something.” So to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” is to have faith that He is the Truth. We seek after truth (who wants to be lied to?); so why don’t we seek after Christ? “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Because it would mean giving up our desires, our fleshly wants. It would mean surrendering our life to Someone we can’t see or touch. It would mean putting something else before myself. It would mean loving something besides me.
We instantly recoil at the thought of it. Why would we, as selfish, greedy, prideful as we are, want to give up our rights, our dreams, our hopes, our fears, and give them to the Lord? Yes, I know I talk about selfishness a lot, but it seriously is our primary focus. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you show love to one another.” (John 13:34 – 35) “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17) We are so self – centered that we have to make ourselves love others. We frequently make friendships for how we benefit from them. Jesus had to command that we should love others! What should that say about us?
Christianity is a very misunderstood thing. It’s thought of as a religion, a life – style, a way of thinking. Those are all true, in a sense. But Christianity is more than just a religion. It is simply following Christ.
Following Christ is hard. You will be persecuted, scorned, mocked, lonely. You will be hated by man. But this is what you should expect. Jesus said “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:13) We should desire to be hated. Why? Think about it: the only reason you wouldn’t be hated is for not living a life for Christ. If we are hated, we are living for Christ, and it is evident. We are shining our lights, and this generation of darkness does not want to be brought into the light. If we are accepted, we are making no difference in the world whatsoever.
So Christianity is simple: following Christ. Obeying His commands. Being a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer. On paper, it’s not that hard. But it’s faith that keeps you persevering and pressing on through the trials you will face in this world. Christianity is truly a test of faith.