This past Sunday, I preached the introduction to our series on Philippians…Joy-Unity-Humility. I shared about how Paul is calling the Church to live through the progression of Humility, Unity, and Joy (click here to listen to the message).
On Monday morning, I got a message asking some questions. After hearing the message, this person had some questions. I like that someone wants to talk about what we are learning…I’ve always hoped that a dialogue might develop from our Sunday AM learning.
I asked if I could post some of the questions and share my responses because I am willing to bet there are others who either have similar questions or just need some encouragement to actually start asking. If anyone happens to read this and would like to add to the dialogue or start another one, either post a question/comment/concern or you can email me. It would be great if this became a regular occurrence here…
Here is the first installment…
Thank you for taking time to read through my thoughts…I have a hard time navigating whether or not I am a Christian or what that would even mean or look like. I don’t know if Christians are even very good at making the world a better place. And so I struggle to know if humility is the appropriate response to a toxic/political world that perhaps needs more people willing muster pride/human dignity and speak out against evil and have the courage to think outside of the box. Where would Jesus be in that? I think most Christian people I know have Him pretty tied up in their conventional way of thinking…so I am very grateful you have been using words like “shocking” and “radical” to describe a life He calls people to live. I don’t know what that looks like for my family, but I thought bringing up these questions to you might be an ok place to begin understanding that.
First thing I am going to respond to is, “I have a hard time navigating whether or not I am a Christian.” So, most importantly, that is one of the few things in this life that we can have FULL assurance of. If you have surrendered your life to Christ by praying to Him and asking Him to forgive your sins and enter into your heart as your Lord and Savior…then you ARE a Christian. If you have not done that, then you are not…but it’s that simple. Grace is the free gift that He offers to those who freely, humbly, and sincerely surrender themselves to Him.
My guess is that you are getting stuck in the
“am I a ‘GOOD’ Christian, or am I a ‘BAD’ Christian?” question.
That question is a false question.
I do not like to stand in judgment of other people and their faith because I know that I am also simply in a process of growth, maturation, and transformation. I know a lot of people that like to use their “status” as a Christian as a tool to judge others. I know that my integrity and character brutally stink at times. I screw things up all the time, so I am not in any place to judge others. That is why I need Christ in my life…to redeem me and all that I mess up.
When we understand the concept of BEING a Christian, we realize that being a Christian or not is an absolute…
we either have asked Christ into our lives as our Lord and Savior, or we have not.
So, we are either Christian or not Christian…there really is no “good” or “bad” Christian.
Our struggle often lies in what we do next after asking Christ into our lives. The real question is, “Am I following Christ and accepting the transformation of my heart and my life that He is calling me to…am I a ‘Disciple’ or not?” (one who listens to His teaching, follows his guidance, and trusts Him with their life).
What many people would consider a “bad Christian” might just be one who just isn’t hearing and obeying (listening), following, and trusting Him with their life transformation. They have claimed their “status” as Christian, proclaimed His name, but may not be following His lead in their transformation process. Because of this, their religion is either just a status, or a set of rules and regulations that they often use to stand in judgment of others.
A “good Christian” could be one who is a disciple. It does not mean that they are perfect, because they still mess things up all the time…but they are purposefully, intentionally moving in Christ’s direction and actively seeking Him to mold them, transform them, and change them into His image (that whole “merge” thing I do with my hands all the time…our character slowly merges into His character the more we listen, follow, and trust Him).
I do often wonder (& have to remind myself also) how we (as the Church) are at being disciples, or if we’ve accepted Christ and just left it at that. Have we simply received our ticket to Heaven and are now just waiting for the time to get that ticket punched? Or, are we actively seeking Christ’s guidance in our lives, surrendering our own will to His will, and following Him wherever He leads us?
A favorite author of mine (Dallas Willard) once wrote, “God is much more interested in getting Heaven INTO YOU than He is in getting YOU INTO Heaven.” God is calling us to bring the ideals, character, compassion, empathy, love, grace, and mercy we will find when we are in God’s perfect presence in Heaven, HERE ON EARTH…in our LIVES, not just in our death.
That is why I often say that Jesus came for so much more than getting us into Heaven…
He came to show us HOW we can live in His presence in life AND in death.
Unfortunately, many Christians are not very good at making the world a better place. However, disciples of Christ are actively living out Christ’s mission in this world and are definitely making this world a better place.
I hope some of that makes sense…