Have you ever sat and complained to God about a certain person or group of people only to have Him reveal that you used to walk in those shoes? Much of my current revelation has included how much grace I have been lavished with personally. I honestly believe the truth will set us free, so it is time to be honest with ourselves as Christians.
Lately, I have been pretty irritated with the amount of people who claim to be Christian, but whose behavior speaks adamantly that they aren’t, and it is obvious they have no desire to change. I have had such a fire in my heart for this group of people for awhile. God has just recently turned that fire of irritation to a fire of love. I have a heart for those who have said the “Get Out of Hell Free” prayer, and think they are covered even though their lifestyle proves their heart was not in that prayer. I have a heart for those people and feel drawn to correct them, because I used to be one. And I wish someone had stopped me in my tracks and let me know it. Would I have taken it well? Uh, No, but it makes my heart sad that no one “loved” me enough to tell me I was wrong. Yet, all things have worked out for good, now that I love Christ. Now He is using my journey to help others on theirs.
So here is part of my testimony, followed by what I have on my heart to share with my brothers & sisters in Christ.
In college I was someone who went out and got tanked on a Saturday night, stumbled into the church door on Sunday morning, and believed it was all good so long as I felt bad about what I did. Eventually that behavior would become a thing of the past right? Then I grew into a “believer” who went out only on Friday nights to get drunk, because I needed to not be hung over on Sunday. I had read a few Christian books, and I occasionally did a shot-gun prayer and read a Psalm or two out of my Bible. That was better than nothing, at least I had made “progress”, right? Eventually I only occasionally lost control, learned to bridle my tongue in the correct times and places, learned some Christian-ese, and had it together enough to fool some people. But I wasn’t fooling God.
In hind sight, I always knew that I wasn’t where I should be. Eventually, I wanted to take my masquerade a little farther. I decided to try out one of these Christian conferences all the church ladies went to. I didn’t know anyone I was going with and the trip started out pretty rough, but over those few days through the testimonies of women I didn’t even know, Jesus lovingly did what others hadn’t. It was lovingly, but it sure didn’t feel that great at first. Through testimonies and teachings, and times of prayer and praise, Jesus snatched me up by the back of the neck, and opened my eyes to how little I really loved Him. I knew that I wasn’t a Christian up until that point. I may have been saved from hell, because I did believe that Jesus was God’s son and said that prayer, but I certainly was not allowing Jesus to be Lord of my life before that point. I definitely was doing more harm to His kingdom and those looking for it than good.
Yesterday, I came across a passage in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and I thought that it was the best response I have read for people who believe that Christ’s only call to us was to LOVE HUMANITY and that the rest of it really doesn’t matter. These are people that believe that our behavior is of little consequence to the people around us; it is only between us and God. The type of person I am talking about believes that so long as they believe Jesus was a real person that their behavior doesn’t matter and where their heart is doesn’t matter, so long as they are “good” people.
After all, no one is perfect, right? And the Bible says not to judge… Wrong.
These people often believe that going to a church building means they have a relationship with Christ, but even after a lifetime in a building their life is not marked by any kind of radical change when compared to the rest of society. They try to keep one foot in the world and one foot in the church. I am not just talking about sporadic church attendees either, I am also talking about people who show up every Sunday, people who are involved. When Jesus found me, I was going to church every Sunday.
A couple of the people I have on my heart include people who volunteer in the nursery and Sunday school rooms, praise and worship team members, elders and their wives, and even a pastor or two. (Yeah, it is about to get real in here…But time is short and we don’t have time to tip toe around some of these issues.)
In fact, the people doing the most damage to the Church are the people in it. Evil doesn’t need to walk through the doors with a semi-automatic weapon, it has already slithered in with greed, pride, jealousy, controlling spirits, misuse of power, gossip, manipulation, and the acceptance, promotion, and participation of unholy behavior within the Church body.
So what did C.S. Lewis say about only focusing on loving humanity? Can we actually just ignore the call to holiness, the call to live a just life, a righteous life? Some people actually believe that so long as we are “loving humanity” at all cost, we can.
“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials ‘for the sake of humanity’, and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.”
(C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’, p 11-12)
Now I know some people may instantly jump to 1 John 4:8 and spout off that God is love. Yes, and in that same passage John references the death of Christ for our sins, which some may not consider “loving” according to our world standards, but it was the proof of God’s love. I am not denying that God is love, but I will say that God is not only love. God is light. God is holy. God is perfect. God is just. God is our avenger. God is many things. We have to be careful not to paint God as a giant cute, cuddly teddy bear in the sky that sprinkles out love dust around the world while accepting every sinful act with open arms. God hates sin.
God is unchanging, and if you open to the Old Testament, you can see that God wiped out whole populations of people who sinned, and those who stood against the Israelites, His chosen people. He even opened the earth and swallowed up a whole group of His own chosen people because of their sins. He did not stop being a God who desires holiness when the New Testament rolled around. He did not stop becoming the defender of His people either. The New Testament resounds the command Moses gave the Israelites from God to purge the sin out from among us – in the church. I truly believe, God is going to raise up those who are really after His heart to correct what is going on within His camp, because our sinful ways are harming the spreading of the Faith. These people may be met with resistance, they may be rejected, but make no mistake – they are right in what they are doing.
We are to do all things in love, but sometimes, as any believer can tell you, Christ’s love hurts so good. When He found me, His correction hurt, but it was so-so-so-so good. His love does not look like our “earthly” love, and Thank God for that. Our love can be wrongly founded, jealous, selfish, and a host of other evil things. HIS LOVE IS NOT LIKE OURS, none of His ways are. His love tells us that we are sinners, but that our sins can be forgiven. I don’t know about you, but sometimes coming face to face with my sin isn’t pretty and it doesn’t feel good. His love tells us to go and sin no more, because walking in sin causes spiritual death and He loves us too much to let us live like that. Doing battle with sin is hard, Christ came so that we can win the battle, but He didn’t promise it would be “easy”. His love makes us aware of our weakness, past & present, to squash the sin of pride, and allow His love to embrace us and strengthen us all the more. His love is full of righteousness and justice. His love is PERFECT and HOLY.
So, if we love as Christ so loves us, then we are going to have to do these same types of loving things for the world. When we are telling other people about Christ, we have to acknowledge they are a sinner and that we are a sinner, but that Jesus died so we do not have to let it rule us anymore. He died so we can conquer that sin, day by day, and live a new life in Him and once we have a new life in Him we will be amazed at how unpleasant and obviously harmful walking in sin becomes. Our view of sin changes, because we know that God loves us and we desire to please Him. When we share the Truth with others it should be because we love them too much to imagine them spending an eternity in hell. True love means risking offending someone in order to ensure they have heard the truth. That is a true and holy love for humanity.
But how can we do that when we ourselves are sleeping with the enemy?
When someone is walking towards Christ alongside us, when we have become brothers & sisters in Christ, it becomes our duty to help them see their blind spots and their duty to help us with ours. We call them out in love. Now there is a particular way this should be done, but it is supposed to be done. If we are in a good relationship with Christ, and have dealt with the plank in our own eye before helping them with their speck, we will do this in love. We also need to be cautious that we accept correction just as lovingly as we like to give it.
We do not get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we want to believe. Christianity is not a buffet of faith where we pick what we want to believe. If you sign up for Christ, you sign up for the beautiful parts and the not so easy parts. Christianity is not a democracy where we get together and decide that God was wrong when His Spirit led the authors of the Bible, and vote in what we believe is “right” instead. If any of the Bible could be wrong, then all of the Bible could wrong. It is either the whole Truth, the inerrant Word of God, or it is not. You do not get to pick and choose which truths are convenient to you and call yourself a Christian. You are damaging other people’s faith, and hindering people who may have otherwise come to Jesus already. Not to mention, when you knowingly walk in sin, you are spitting in the face of Christ’s sacrifice.
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
I pray that there will be others who rise up and admit their past weaknesses in the faith in order to show by example that there are ways that seem right to men that in the end will only lead to death. I pray that God will fill our mouths with words that will cut to the heart of things in as loving a way as possible. I pray He will also fill our actions with grace and mercy for people who need to hear the Truth. I pray God softens the hardened hearts within His Church, so they can receive correction. Most of all I pray He gives us courage to no longer sit by while the devil has his way with our churches.
If you find that you are one of these people – the misguided, misinformed, or someone who is sleeping with the enemy at night and playing church by day, I pray that you know that there is hope for Christ to save you. Even after you have said all the right things, to all the right people. Even after you are in a position that people would gasp to know that you need some gut wrenching repentance. Who cares what they think? The One you need to get right with is God. One of the greatest miracles is when someone gets saved out of a lifetime in the church building. I will be praying for you, brothers & sisters, because allowing our pride to take the backseat isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I know I struggled with admitting where I was, but I thank God that He gave me the grace to be humble enough to do so. I am not where I want to be, but Praise the Lord I am not where I used to be.
If you are not a Christian and hesitate to believe in Jesus, because you have met way too many people who claim to know Christ but act no different than any other “religious” group, please seek Him for yourself. Seek the Truth for yourself. Read the Bible. Yes, I know that there are astounding numbers of people who “profess” Christ who really do not know Him at all in America, but if you search just a little deeper, you will find those who do love Him. You will find people that are marked by a radical change in lifestyle and heart. You will meet people who will make it obvious that Christ does exist. You will meet people who are willing to walk the narrow way with you. They are out there. Pray for God to lead you to them.
You will not be alone in your prayer. I pray for God to give me discernment and to connect me supernaturally to those who are the most on fire for Him. It seems our Christian numbers are dwindling, but I will not lose faith or hope that He can make a way when there seems to be none.
All need grace and all is grace, friends!