Being Christian

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Mahatma Ghandi once said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are not like your Christ”. When I first heard this quote, I was intrigued as to why Ghandi might have said this. What is it he doesn’t understand? The point the Apostle Paul is making in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is that non-Christians will never understand the message of the cross because it’s only the Holy Spirit that allows humans to comprehend its message.

Though Ghandi’s quote clearly lacks of a true understanding of what it is to be Christian, it does give pause for us as Christians to consider our witness to an unbelieving world. I think perhaps what he meant by his quote was that he sees no distinction between those who call themselves Christian and those who aren’t. Unfortunately, many have bought into the cultural definition of Christianity; a definition that has no expectation that a changed life follows a changed heart, a definition that fails to recognize that Jesus’ dealing with sin on the cross wasn’t so we would remain in it, a definition that expects God’s standards to conform to ours instead of ours to His. This definition not only falls short of the biblical one, it’s not even Christian.

On the other hand, it shouldn’t surprise us when non-Christians fail to understand or accept what it is to be Christian. They can’t. They may have their own misperceptions of what it means. They might even call it religion. Christianity has never been about the perfect Christian, but instead about trusting in the perfect Savior who made a perfect sacrifice for sin, Jesus. It’s about His faithfulness, not ours.

There will always be a disconnect between Christians and non-Christians. So don’t be shocked when you find the non-Christians comments to be antagonistic and their criticism great. We must minister as Paul urged Timothy when he wrote telling him to “not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting opponents with gentleness that God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to knowledge of the truth…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). This may be a hard course, but it’s the right course. It doesn’t mean you deny biblical authority, compromise your beliefs or tolerate ungodliness. It simply means that you live out who God calls you to be, share the good news of Jesus Christ and rely on the Holy Spirit for the rest.

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About Sin

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

The fact that we are all sinners is clearly taught in Scripture. Speaking to both Jews and Gentiles, Paul spent the first two and a half chapters making the case that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Known as the Apostle Paul’s most theological letter, Romans spells out the whole of the gospel more than any other letter. It’s not an accident that in doing so, he began with sin.

There are two dangerous attitudes toward sin that we need to be cautioned against. The first is the attitude that shrugs off sin with words like, “I’m just a sinner; God knows that”. While we are sinners, and yes, God does know that, our attitude toward sin matters. God has commanded us to “be holy, for I am holy!” (1 Peter 1:16). A casual attitude toward sin never brings glory to God. A second dangerous attitude toward sin is an attitude that believes we are incapable of great sin. It is often manifested by judging someone else by saying something like, “I can’t believe what they did. I would never do that.” Be careful, we all have a sin nature and are capable of great sin. If you believe you’re not, you’ll be less likely to guard against it. The Christian life requires discipline. We must train ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).

I once heard a sermon where a pastor in preaching to prospective pastors in seminary training said that if in their preaching they do not confront their congregation about sin, it not only brings into question their love for their congregation, but also their love for God. When your pastor confronts you with your sin, be grateful. He’s preaching the Bible. However, also know that the natural extension of confronting you with your sin is for him to tell you of its cure, Jesus Christ. It has been said that “the first act of faith is to believe what God says about sin”. It’s true. And what brings people to saving faith is what God did about it. He gave His Son to pay sin’s penalty. Have you placed your faith in that truth? Jesus really did pay it all. He paid it willingly, perfectly and for all time. After such a display of love, how could we be so casual about what Christ came to cure?