Lots of folks who want to improve their lives (e.g. to be accepted by God, to get closer to God, to be loved more by God, to gain God’s favor and blessing) try real hard to be a good Christian. The operative word here is “try“.
But “good” Christians don’t exist.In addition, if someone is declared a ” Good” Christian that means somewhere there has to be a bad Christian and a superior Christian and a poor Christian. Do you see the judgmental comparison trap we’d get ourselves into?
The moment we “try” to improve our lot as a “Christian” we take the focus off God and place it squarely on our self effort.
In God’s Kingdom what we do on our own doesn’t count for anything. The only thing that counts in God’s Kingdom is surrender to Christ’s life allowing him to live His life through us. Christ wants to live His life (not ours) in us, through us, and as us to bring Glory to God. Period.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remains in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
A Jewish lady answered a knock at her door. The young man asked her if she wanted her house painted. It needed painting, so she took his card. She noticed a fish symbol on the card and asked him what it meant. “It means I’m a Christian painter,” he said.
In my opinion, calling yourself a “Christian” anything presents two problems. First, no one has ever explained to me what a Christian is in Biblical terms. Any definition fails to capture what Jesus taught us about following Him.
And second, using “Christian” to describe a “painter” does not help me learn anything about the person holding the brush and ladder. Does a “Christian painter” paint differently from a “Catholic painter” or a “Muslim painter” or, “atheist painter”? The woman wanted her house painted. All she cared about was whether or not the guy could paint.
Too many times I think folks use “Christian” to describe their business to persuade their customers they’re more honest or ethical than “non-Christian” businesses. That somehow their “Christian business” ethics or integrity or quality of work is superior to their competitors who don’t flash a “Christian” label in their front window or on their business cards.
Too often we hear stories of bad experiences some consumers have with “Christian” businesses who flash their fish symbols then act just like the world in the market place. Those “Christian” business folks drive people away from The church and away from Jesus. One bad “Christian” business deal can destroy dozens of potential good business deals with authentic followers of Jesus who take Jesus to work every day.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Colossians 3:23
Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to flash a “Christian” label to attract more customers, or to describe one’s integrity or character. Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to convince others of their faith. The way we love others is all we need to bear witness to our integrity and our character.
Lots of people who don’t know their true identity in Christ believe and live out of a contrived philosophy of works and performance. They think God plus their good works is what brings God glory. If the truth be told, in my opinion and from my experience, usually the motivation for their good works is probably more about getting approval from God.
I had a friend who used to tell me, and everyone else, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” I had to bite my tongue every time I heard that platitude. First, it’s not the least bit scriptural or true. And second, it creates the impression that one has to do stuff to get help, approval or acceptance from God.
I was teaching about grace and the freedom we have in Christ one Sunday in my adult Bible study class. One of our members grew up in another faith, a legalistic, works oriented religion. She made this statement, “Okay, I hear what you’re saying, but surely there must be something we need to do to receive God’s grace.”
Obviously she did NOT hear what I was saying. Her resistance to surrendering her life to Christ and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-5) caused her to struggle with God’s grace and receive it. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing!”
Abiding is the toughest “nothing” we will ever do. But as the verses in John say, unless we do nothing in and of ourselves and just abide, we won’t produce anything worthwhile for the Kingdom of God.
I read some posts Tuesday on LinkedIn from a man who wrote a series called “Gay Christianity: My Tsunami” The gist of the series conveyed this man’s change of heart from someone who adamantly denied a Christian could be gay, to someone who could accept a homosexual claiming to be a Christian.
The discussion drew a number of comments, including one from me. Members who commented focused their responses on Continue reading →
We’ve wrestled with “Christian” and “Christianity” this whole series. We’ve said it’s impossible to define. We’ve said you can call yourself a Christian and believe, or disbelieve…or do, or not do, just about anything you want. Continue reading →
A well-known, intelligent “Christian” drops out.
Read how she describes “Christians”.
Anne Rice lived for decades as an atheist. Raised as a Catholic, she rejected the church early in her life but renewed her faith in recent years and in 2008 released the memoir Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession. The best-selling author of 28 books is probably best known for her Vampire Chronicle series. Twelve years after she converted from atheism to Christianity, she quit being a Christian.
“Today I quit being a Christian,” the best-selling author said. “I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being Continue reading →
In Baskin Robbins Christianity Part I we discussed the multitude of “Christian” beliefs, denominations, ways of worship, varieties of Bibles and more. We found so many differing and conflicting ideas about Christianity that it’s impossible to define a Christian of Christianity. Continue reading →
What’s your favorite flavor of Christianity? There’s so many to choose from. If you don’t like one flavor of church, you can find another flavor down the block. You’ve got more than 41,000 flavors of Christianity to choose from. Continue reading →
Note: In several recent posts and replies to emails and posts I responded to folks whose political and social views differ from mine. In some of those instances I responded with arrogance and often biting sarcasm.
I’m troubled by what I see as an increase in the neologism, muslimophobia (fear of Muslims), in this country. It appears that many people associate the term Muslim with terror and terrorists. Any mention of Muslim activity for some, whether it be political, social or religious, ignites condemnation of all Muslims and fear of another nine-eleven attack.