Christians have failed. I speak to you now as one of them, the failures. All “Christians” are not Christians. It was the pagans at Antiauk that first called the apostles “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28). They used it derogatorily because the apostles didn’t follow the religious and philosophical thoughts of the pagans.
Christians have failed. We are often still despised by the world, but honestly, not enough. If we truly believed, the disapproval would know no end. I say if we truly believed… and I mean that. IF we truly believed. Because I’m not convinced many of us do; believe I mean. We say we do, but often, I question that belief we claim.
Belief without a changed life is not belief in the truth of what you are claiming, but belief in the benefits of believing. I can sit in church on Sunday morning and say I am a good person for doing so. I can shake my head when the Pastor condemns sin and feel high and mighty for not going down that road in my own life, but when I am full of my own piety, where does that leave me?
We are often truly arrogant.
There’s a Zen teaching that says, “Look at everything with a beginner’s mind.” We, as Christians, have to continually empty our cups so that Christ can fill them with himself. We are so very good at filling ourselves… of filling our lives with nonsense, pride, selfishness, and patronization. So what does it mean to be a Christian? What should I expect from Christians? There was a man who asked Jesus a similar question, he said, what must I do to get eternal life? Jesus asked the man to tell him what the law said,
“He (the man) answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
And Jesus basically says that this is exactly right. Now I don’t agree with everything he says, but Creflo A. Dollar said,
“In order to love God, you must first renew your mind where love is concerned. When many people think of love, they think of human, emotional love, which is basically selfish because it has conditions—it loves when the conditions are right, or when it feels like loving. This is the type of love many people demonstrate toward God. However, God is not interested in you loving Him with your feelings. When we choose what we want or desire over God’s Word, we demonstrate that we love ourselves more than God. We must get rid of our own selfish desires and replace them with the desires God has placed in our hearts. When we love God, we will submit to His plan and purpose for our lives.”
According to Romans 5:5, the Holy Spirit has poured the love of God in our hearts, and that love gives us the ability to love with a Godkind of love, an unselfish love. God’s love is unconditional. Unlike selfish, human love, God’s love puts the needs of others above its own. This is the love God wants Christians to demonstrate.
Every day, you have to make a decision to allow the “you” inside to die and the (unselfish) God Love to live.
That means in order for the love of God to be evident in your life, you have to make a quality decision to allow your thoughts, desires, emotions, and feelings, that oppose the Word of God, to die daily. It is impossible to love God, or others, when you have plans, purposes, and desires that are contrary to the Word of God. How often have you seen Christians who continue to live for themselves? How often have you seen the hypocrisy in one of them? How often have you looked at their lives and thought, “dang, I am a better person than them.”
The interesting part about your thoughts on them… is that you are right. They aren’t any better than you. They aren’t any better, or moral, or anything else. The only real difference between them and you is that they have given their lives over to Christ and are attempting to allow him to lead their lives.
I say attempting because that’s exactly what it is, attempting. Time and again they struggle to live according to his will in their lives and time and again they fail. They fail, and fail, and fail, and fail, and fail. They cry out to him for his help. They say in church and in songs that they believe, but secretly when they are alone in their rooms at night, they pray for God to help them with their unbelief.
I’ve said it before, Christianity is the fantastic fantasy that we as adults are allowed to keep believing in beyond childhood. The Bible tells this beyond belief tale of resurrection from the dead and heaven and entities of evil that angels fight against and we are allowed and privileged to continue believing in.
We have never told Kat (my daughter) that Santa Claus was real. When she would ask about it, we tell her he was a man who lived a long time ago who gave children presents and they called him Saint Nicholas and that he is who all the people we see around Christmas are dressed up like. However, she continues to believe in Santa because she WANTS to believe, regardless of what anyone says. Christians want to believe and because of the truths they see in their own lives, the truth they have seen revealed in scripture, they have the benefit of belief, even if sometimes it’s hard to believe.
I know the truth of the Bible. Sometimes it’s hard to believe. Sometimes it’s hard to live even with all the personal evidence I’ve seen in my life, but I choose to continue my belief because I know it’s the truth.
D. Michl Lowe