WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHRISTIAN TODAY?
Let’s face it: the person of Jesus Christ does not have the place in our lives that He ought to have. Could it be that we have not yet really understood what it is to be a Christian?
A pagan or natural religion is a religion of code or cult. People realize that someone else created this world before us here and so they ask about the ground rules or a moral code. They realize that they must express some acknowledgement and gratitude of this “someone else” or Creator. And so a cult is born. The American Indian would hold up slice of a slain animal to someone above as recognition of God. This is a cult.
Let us ask whether Christianity is more than this? We know as Christians that Jesus died to redeem us. Do we truly understand what it means to be “redeemed”? Our Lord’s death on the cross did not just change the Father’s attitude to us, but it did something very profound to us.
Christ died so that we might change, interiorly, in the very core of our being. Because we are redeemed, we are now called, and able, to think as men have never thought before, to evaluate things in this world in a way that overturns all previous standards of judgment , to act in ways that are as far beyond what we usually understand by “morality”:
We are ready to lead a new life and to share what we call a life of grace: a sharing in Christ’s life, that is His thinking, His choosing, His appreciating, His knowledge and loving and suffering and rejoicing here on earth – right here and now and not only sharing His joy fully and forever in heaven.
So is our religion a matter of morality and doing the right thing in order to get to heaven: a code or cult Christianity? Or is it a search for communion with the mind and heart of Christ? You need to have a deeper understanding of the Lawmaker. You must think beyond your channel of reasoning. You must be aware of the revelation of God speaking through the Scriptures.
Do you think that the challenge will be too much for you?
CONNECTING CHRISTIANITY WITH LIFE
The trouble with Christianity is that it’s like your voter registration: if you don’t use it you lose it.
We start wandering around, going from one little sensation to another. Our lives get stuffed with newspaper items, television stories, and gossip. Then our minds lose the discipline of discerning between what leads us closer to God and what doesn’t, and our hearts gradually lose their spiritual sensitivity.
Are you living a form of “civil religion” inspired by acceptance of the values of one’s society rather than those found in the Bible? Civil religion is simply another name for paganism. It’s what nice people in our society do.
We can become a god unto ourselves with this thinking. You begin to set God apart from life in this world. You begin to live this compromise. It is like saying that you are driving your car toward California while reading the tourist brochures about Florida.
You may be a couch Christian. You do take some “time out” to acknowledge occasionally the theoretical dependence on God before you rush into the real business of making a living in the world. For your religion may have nothing significantly to say about life. Your religion may be fine so long as it does not interfere with the way you live.
HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU?
Are you like a contestant in Olympic Games? Each contestant chooses what to eat with only one guiding principle in mind: what will help you win the contest. A serious contestant will not eat whatever is served just because it is polite or because everybody else is eating it.
You can clearly identify a true Christian be the obvious fact that they clearly eat and drink and do everything for the glory of God. They are guided by a desire to live completely and totally by the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are not people who “fit in”.
Christians do not set out to be nonconformists. They actually have a set of values that do not conform to the seeing and thinking of this world.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48
“He (Jesus) replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” Luke 19:26
If we are going to be real Christians, if we are going to know Jesus Christ, we are going to have to reform our lives. This doesn’t mean tightening up this little laxity in our lives, but a reshaping of the whole pattern, giving a whole new direction and form to everything we do.
Should we not be challenging consumerism, affluence and waste? Should we not be concerned with our brothers and sisters in the underdeveloped nations? Should we not use our time on this earth as a precious talent God has given us to invest for the Kingdom of God?
If that effect is not all-embracing and “radical”, which touches every root of our existence, then we have to face the fact, sooner or later, that we have never truly encountered Him and that He is not “real” to us.
Let’s hope that doesn’t take place on Judgment Day.
We do not take our money, our social status, our worldly power into the next world; but we do take the quality of our love. At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done.
Much of this post was inspired by the book, His Way, by Father David Knight.