During recent conversations with a number of people last Sunday a serious issue became rather apparent to me. Most of those in question would be quick to assert they are, and quickly identify as, Christian. By definition a Christian is: A follower or disciple of Jesus; someone who believes Jesus is the Christ or Messiah. The New Testament mentions that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians within a few years after His death.
Now, those who know me can verify that for most of my life I had lived as far from sainthood as a person could get without spontaneously bursting into flames. Truth be told I, like most modern day Christians, was versed in the ancient language of “Christianese” and could chat up the bible to the point of being able to almost guarantee your salvation. Quite a lot of my time growing up in a southern Baptist household was spent in church (thanks mom) but my undercover actions (sorry mom) would quickly reveal the fact church wasn’t in me.
Over the course of the past several years, I’ve chosen to take a different path in life and began actively seeking a closer relationship with our heavenly Father. In turn, I’ve come to realize most individuals know something of the Lord and even identify as Christian brothers and sisters when the moment suits their purpose but very few purpose to truly “walk the walk.”
It is simply amazing at how quickly we will jump on the bandwagon of Christianity, as circumstances warrant, but choose to live outside the boundaries dictated by the very identity. There are many who display the label of Christian but, in actuality, don’t truly know Christ; they only know of Him. It seems everyone with any idea about who Jesus is claims to be a Christian but employ attitudes and behaviors that are far removed from the mere concept.
Then, there are those who know just enough about the bible to be a certifiable danger to themselves and anyone who sincerely seeks enlightenment. These are the type so-called Christians who non-believers observe and think, “If that’s what it means to follow Christ, I don’t want any part of it.” Unfortunately, actions of these few are responsible for turning away a great many people from the church before even having the opportunity to attend causing them to swear off the existence of God. Some, on the other hand, simply reason God wouldn’t allow the devastations existing throughout the world.
Many non-believers log the classic dispute that if God is so loving why would He choose to send people to hell? They fail to realize it isn’t His desire that any be condemned but all are granted the blessing of “free will” and therefore, one’s choice of behavior determines where he or she spends eternity. In most cases the difficulty simply lies in convincing skeptics of God’s existence as the creator of all life as they refuse to even believe there is a heaven or hell.
Famed author and philosopher, Anthony Flew who lived from 1923 to 2010 was renowned as the world’s most notorious atheist. He spent a considerable amount of his life and the last half of the 20th century arguing against the mere idea of the existence of God. As the result of his in-depth investigation in which he purposed to prove there was no such thing as God, he subsequently was more-or-less forced to change his mind in 2004. Flew stated “… the integrated complexity of life itself—which is far more complex than the physical Universe—can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so.”
Many make the mistake of assuming that at the point you accept Christ it means one is supposed to be perfect and live a sin-free life but that’s simply not the case. Scripture expressly states there is none perfect; “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 KJV)
True followers are made perfect only through the shedding of Jesus’ blood and have no more right to judge anyone, believer or non-believer, than another person has the right to judge us. Too often, so-called Christians want to take the high road and condemn others for behaviors of which they’ve been guilty themselves and, in many cases, continue in the same manner, living pretentious lives of sin while outwardly displaying something other than the truth. Believing Jesus once walked the earth no more qualifies me as a Christian than the belief Neil Armstrong walked on the moon makes me an astronaut. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.