Being a Christian. It’s Not About…

…eggs, chocolate, or bunny rabbits. Resurrection Sunday is about Jesus Christ rising from the dead on the third day and defeating death to pay for OUR sins – past, present, and future.

…Santa Claus, expensive presents, stress shopping, or getting time off work. It’s about celebrating the birth of Christ because without His birth, there would be no prophecies fulfilled, no sacrifice for our sins (even the ones no one else knows about), and no hope for eternity in Heaven.

…many ways to God. There is only one way to God and that is Jesus. Yes, it’s narrow – He said it himself. Jesus is the only son of God, the only perfect sacrifice for our sins and the only willing person to do it for us, even when we didn’t deserve it or want it. “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

…intolerance. It’s about trusting in God’s word to tell us what is good and right in His eyes through the Bible. We love everyone and respect their point of view, but we still look to God for the final word. On everything. Even if it’s hard. Or not popular.

…rules. It’s about understanding God’s Moral Laws that tell us right from wrong. We look to His counsel first before we consider any other. We know that every breath we take is because He gives it to us and our families, our lives, our comforts – all come from Him.

…going through the motions. Showing up at church on Sunday, “sleeping” through service, and forgetting about God for the rest of the week is a watered down spiritual disservice to ourselves. If God is alive in us, He is with us every minute of every day. Conversations with God are just as easy in a car or in line at the grocery store as they are at church.

…making God pay for the idiot actions of someone who acted ungodly. It’s not about taking revenge on God because someone who “claimed” to be a Christian was cruel, or misrepresented Him, or pursued an agenda under His name.

…making God pay for the actions of a bad church. Church is where two or more true believers are gathered, it’s not a building. It’s a coming together of the faithful. Hypocrites and liars can just as easily sit on a church pew as they can on a bus.

…hate. A true Christian does not hate, he loves. Despite adversity. Despite mockery. Despite circumstance and politics. He may not agree, but he does not hate. Do not misinterpret a view that is not the same as yours as “hate.”

…peace, love, and joy. There is no magic pill that you take once you become a Christian that makes your life “easy.” It’s the opposite, because you now understand that your beliefs no longer match the “feel good doctrine” of this world and, as Jesus said, you WILL have troubles. It’s not about bailing on Jesus the moment your life gets complicated and you wonder why He doesn’t just fix it for you. It’s about endurance. And faith. And being gut-wrenchingly honest that the majority of those troubles, you actively helped yourself get into.

…being perfect. It’s about Grace. God’s grace. It’s about owning up to sins (from “white lies” to stealing to not honoring your parents – and no one on this planet has not done this), understanding that we have not sinned against each other, but against God himself, the creator of the universe and before Him, we are truly guilty. It’s about understanding that by breaking just one of His laws, we have sinned, and over our lifetimes that’s not just once, it’s thousands of times. It’s about holding on to the fact that despite our sins, Jesus died for us so that we could be right with God.

…them killing Jesus. Jesus was a willing participant every step of the way. He knew His role and he took it upon Himself to die for me and for you.

…doing more good than bad and hoping to get to Heaven. Trying to “do good things” so you can “even out the scales” is like trying to bribe a judge. If you did wrong, all the nice things you did in your life do not eclipse the fact that you have broken the law. You still have to pay for your crime. If you were able to bribe God, He wouldn’t be God.

…actions and rituals. Going to church, being christened, wearing a cross, or owning a Bible does not make you a Christian any more than throwing on a lab coat makes you a doctor. God knows what is truly in your heart. He knows if you feel the full weight of the wrong things you’ve done and if you’ve realized that you are helpless under his judgment. He knows if you have truly understood and accepted the weighty sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross. The people of the world may be fooled by your rituals and good deeds, but God is not.

…fluffy clouds and angel wings. It’s about an eternity with the creator of the universe, the goodness and power of God, and being with Him every day forever. And ever.

…fantasies and wishes. It’s about real events that have been documented in a book that has outsold any other book in history. It is about the Old Testament driving inexorably towards the New, quietly revealing Jesus in every page. It is a book that will elude many who read its words because their hearts are hard and they refuse to believe. It is a book that is a comfort to millions because they believe and understand and see its incredible value. It is THE source of information on the character of God and man and His love for us.

…a tragedy. It is about a wondrous and everlasting hope that every single person can have in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

…mountains of data before a decision. Not deciding to live for Christ is denying Him. “Not now” is an answer – it’s “no.” It’s not about fighting over the minutiae – it’s about trust and belief. Faith. But not blind faith. Anyone can pick apart something if they truly are in a mind to do it. The leap of faith first, THEN comes the reward. Not the other way around.

…doing cruel things in defense of God. It’s about persevering and being patient in His name. It’s about letting Him be the judge, not us. It’s about prayer and love, in spite of how ugly other people can be “in the name of religion.” I submit to you that many of the things done in the name of religion were done by zealots, not Christians.

…us being God. We’re not. We will never be God. We are created in His image, but we are not Him. We can’t speak for Him. We can’t pretend to know what His intentions are. We can’t fit Him to be what WE want. He is God. We can accept Him or reject Him. We can love Him or hate Him. We can even pretend that He does not exist. But we will never BE him.

…running the endless treadmill trying to please God. We can’t. There is nothing we can give Him that he does not already have. He can’t be bought or bribed. He can’t ignore sins and he can’t go against His own good nature. What we can do, is gratefully accept the sacrifice He has provided for us so that we can be right with Him.

…long and drawn-out prayers which say more about our need to be the center of attention. God knows what we need. He knows our pain and our struggles. He doesn’t care about Shakespearean orations, He just wants our honesty. Our gut honesty. We can’t hide from Him. We should run to Him when life gets hard, not run to a bottle, a warm body, a handful of pills, or a new “toy.” Sin is pleasurable for a seaon, and then it takes it’s pound of flesh. Again. And again. And again.

…getting it right before going to God. It’s about coming to Him right now. Right as you are. Broken. Weak. Tired. Frustrated. Hopeless. If we waited until we had our lives together, we’d never seek Him in the first place.

…politics and culture. Culture and politics reflect the tone of the day, and that is rarely in agreement with God’s will because no matter how well meaning, these are human agendas and, thus, selfish by nature. We value money, fame, status, and keeping up with the Jones’ over sacrifice, humility, grace, and giving. We value the stars of television and sports over the word of God. We look to Oprah before we look to the words of Jesus.

…the path of least resistance. We are sinners and our primary objective will be to do what we want, sometimes at the cost of others, sometimes at the cost of much more. We can justify and play the victim, and try to explain away our actions as “not as bad” as that other guy, but when we stand in front of God, all those short cuts and slights we did along the way, there will be no one else to be compared to. It will be just us and just Him and his standard is high.

…saying we’re sorry to God. Everyone is sorry…when they get caught. We cannot stand in front of God on the Day of Judgment and apologize for the bad things we did when we were alive and hope we’ll skate by. By then, it’ll be too late. We had our chance. This is the age of communication. This is the age of information. Few have not heard about Jesus and His sacrifice. True ignorance is no longer an excuse for those of us in the western world. We let pride get in the way. We put God into a box that we find more “palatable” – one that doesn’t have us end up in Hell.

…judging others. We who are Christians know better than anyone how sinful we are. We understand that, in God’s eyes, sins carry equal weight from murder to adultery to lying (and 20 years ago sins are the same to God as sins we did that morning – lest anyone use that “I was a kid” excuse). We know how many times we have let Him down ourselves, so we – more than anyone – know that we are in no place to judge. Sharing, in love, what God says is not judgment if the person isn’t being a jerk about it. But conviction is uncomfortable, so if you feel convicted, that’s God speaking directly to your heart. Now is the time to start paying attention. God’s word and moral laws are for our instruction and information and should be shared with love. Not condemnation. We do not judge. God does. And, whether we like it or not, He will be the judge.

…cramming our beliefs down your throat. It’s about The Great Commission. This is what Jesus has asked believers to do – spread the word of His love and sacrifice to those living in a dark world. In love, we want every friend, family member, co-worker, and acquaintance to be standing in front of God and seeing his or her name in the Book of Life with us. We want to be able to stand in front of God and say, “This life you gave me, I passed on your message as best as I could. Some listened and some didn’t. But I passed it on.”

…being perfect. We want to be better people. We want to be growing in Christ every day, using His example as a beautiful example to live by, and that is hard. We don’t do it because we’re trying to “please” God or because we’re trying to be better than anyone else. We sincerely want to live a life that is a testament to the gift He has given us. We want to be a light to those who are still floundering in darkness.

…outdated ideas. It’s about timeless wisdom and a moral conscience that guides us daily. Jesus took many of the “internal” commandments (the ones others don’t see – but God does) and upped the ante. He said that even looking at woman with lust was committing adultery of the heart. Or hating our brother was committing murder in our heart. It’s not just about what we DO. It’s about what’s inside us. What we feel and think and plot, even while we smile and go about our business. It’s a good thing to honor your parents (not JUST obey them), it’s a good thing to not lie or cheat or steal. It’s a good thing to be faithful and to love God more than any other thing in your life. And when we do these things we’re not supposed to do, we feel bad. This is a God-given conscience that tells us we have sinned. Ever been lied to? How’s it feel? Ever been cheated? How does that feel? The backbone of our entire legal system is founded on these principles because they are good and solid principles.

…looking or acting a certain way. God created us as individuals in all shapes, sizes, and histories. We Christians are pearl-wearing, dress and gloves types, but we’re also tattooed, long-haired granola-munching Jesus freaks who play drums and guitar and love God with every fiber of our being. We do not fit into a stereotype found in Hollywood because we are individuals. But we are all united in our love for Jesus and our absolute trust in His sacrifice. Not just belief – believing doesn’t get us to Heaven, even Satan believes in Jesus.

…watering down the message so people will be more “comfortable.” As easy as it would be to say that God is all about peace, love, joy and nothing else so that seekers would come to church in droves, there are many aspects to God and some of them we may never understand this side of Heaven. Many will be turned off by the “harshness” they see that God is being. Many will see the truth of it and understand. But to only provide a cure (salvation), without showing people they have a disease (sin), the gift would be meaningless. If people don’t think they need a savior, why toss one at them? It’s only when we understand that we are ALL sinners, doomed to eternity apart from God, that we see the true value and love behind Jesus’ sacrifice.

…arguing. We believe and we trust in Jesus. We trust and believe that the Bible is true and accuruate. We believe and trust that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, that Noah built an ark, that Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden and we have been living with sin ever since. We believe that Jesus was born, lived a sinless life, and willingly went to the cross to die for our sins. We believe that there are other viewpoints in the world and other religions and we admit that others will believe what they want. But we believe that Jesus is the only true way to God. There is no other way.

…worshipping the creation. It’s about worshipping the Creator. We loves us some trees and the universe and the stars and the heavens. But we do not worship them. They are not God. They have no power. God, the creator of these things is the one we worship. We do not “thank the Universe” because it can’t do anything. Only God has the power and authority to fix our lives and only God is worthy of our worship.

…looking strong. It’s about admitting weakness. Admitting failure. Admitting fear and hopelessness when things are falling apart. God is not a crutch. He is not a “last resort.” He is the first place we should turn when our lives spin out of control. There is no weakness in admitting defeat or failure. The weakness comes from pride and arrogance thinking that we know better than God and that we can fix things on our own. Because that’s worked so well for us in the past.

…Jesus being a good teacher and example of how to live our lives. Jesus SAID that he is God. He spoke of Hell. He spoke of ignorance and wickedness. He spoke of the last days. He spoke of how the world would despise those who trust in Him and who would die in His name. He is so much more than just the Sermon on the Mount.

…tomorrow. It’s about today. We are appointed to live once, die and then face judgment. There are no second chances, third times the charms, or multiple do-overs once we die. And we do not know when that is. This side of heaven is where our eternity is decided. We can ignore the truth, will it away, explain it away, and just pretend it is not so – but we WILL all die. After that, it is too late for a decision. If we tell God, “no thank you” in life, on Judgment Day, He will take us at our word. God does not send anyone to Hell. They choose it.

…scare tactics. It’s about the Good News. God showed us our disease and He provided a cure. All we have to do it take it. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s amazing. But it’s a choice. This is what Free Will is about. Free Will to choose God and Heaven and eternity or free will to decide they’re lies or garbage or fairy stories. We can choose to ignore the opportunity for a spirit-filled life, and daily assurance that we are God’s children and WILL go to be with Him in Heaven when we die.

We spend more time researching our next car than we do truly and honestly looking into a decision that will affect not just the next 20 years of our lives, but eternity. There is no measure to how long that is when you consider that our time on earth is like a drop in the bucket. With eyes, ears, and hearts wide open, look at the easiest decision in the world to make and make it. This is GOOD NEWS. And it doesn’t cost a dime. And it’s open and available to everyone and you don’t have to lift a finger to earn it.

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