Three people say they are Christians.
One person seems to be richly walking with God and is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control; another person is angry, proud, speaks negatively of others, is hard to be around, has opinions that aren't allowed to be challenged and asks to be accepted without being held accountable; a third person hovers in between and figures, "I'll admit that I'm not perfect, but I won't do anything about it. Maybe if I don't look like the second category, I'll at least look more like the first category."
Of course, you're the first category.
I "know" I am.
Yet all three people claim they are Christians.
Why does one of those individuals' lives seem to line up more with what Jesus prescribed than the others? Or does it? Who's right? Who's wrong?
Are all three really Christians?
Often we believe the "bar" to gauge if someone is a real Christian is if they are spiritual as we are. The trouble with that concept is the only "bar" to measure anyone or anything is Jesus Christ. We likewise forget that our sense or morality isn't as pure as we'd like to believe.
John Ortberg, in his book Faith and Doubt, illustrates this by challenging that if we really wrote out what we believe at our core it would look less like the Apostle's Creed and more like a something we sketched in the sand. For many that might mean owning up to these hidden beliefs:
- "I believe that a lie is a bad thing, but it might be necessary for me to avoid pain."
- "I believe that it pays to be nicest to people who are wealthy, attractive, smart, athletic, successful or important."
- "I believe that I have the right to pass judgment on others."
- "I believe that I have the right to gossip about people."
- "I believe that I had better be looking out for number one."
- "I believe that things have not gone as well for me as they should, so I deserve a little treat: another doughnut, another drink, another pill, another fantasy…"
- "I believe that thirty thousand children dying of preventable diseases every day in our world are not worth risky my affluence for."
Along these lines, examining the life of Jesus shows us what integrity and wholeness of faith looks like. When we give Him our life, receive Him as Savior and follow Him, we undergo a transformation. He redirects us, changes our core convictions, and offers us a glimpse at why we're on planet earth.
Honestly, I'm not interested in what category you're in or I'm in. All three categories of people need Jesus - we will all walk into a bar one day with His name on it. It will either hurt because we closed our eyes and wouldn't see it coming... or it will give us comfort because He is consistent, firm and unmoved in a world that feels less like bedrock and more like quicksand.
Be honest... you're probably nodding your head at that more quickly than you're nodding your life.
I know I am... and I hate that enough to do something about it. Do you?
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)