These Christians were not pointing people towards Jesus.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ“. Now to be clear, I in no way advocate looking to the sayings of someone from a false religion for wisdom. However, when someone makes a statement like that of Gandhi, we need to take notice. What Gandhi said is a sad indictment of the Christians that he had observed. Those Christians were not pointing people towards Jesus. Quite the opposite in fact – the Christians that Gandhi observed were so different from Jesus that he was unable to recognise any similarity.
Anyone who observed them saw little or no evidence of the reality of God.
The pharisees of Jesus’ time (or most of them at least) had taken Judaism, and turned it into a dead religion, with no power. They majored on the ‘thou shalt nots’ and the consequences of breaking the commandments, but had completely forgotten about the blessings that God had promised to His people. The Jews were supposed to be a symbol to other nations of God’s goodness, but they were not fulfilling that role. Anyone who observed them, saw little or no evidence of the reality of God, let alone any evidence of His goodness. All they saw was empty religion. As we read the New Testament, we can see how the pharisees held tightly onto their religious tradition, with it’s man-made doctrines, and we wonder how they could be so ignorant. But isn’t 1st Century Judaism a picture of a large proportion of the Christian Church? Over the years, Man has added his rules and his doctrines to what the Bible actually teaches – just as the pharisees did. The church has majored on what not to do, but not given much attention to the things that God has promised to those that will believe in His promises. The Christianity that many people on the outside observe, offers no more evidence of God, or of God’s goodness, than 1st Century Judaism did.
They see no connection between what happens in church and their day-to-day lives.
A half-hearted Christian is someone who goes to church out of religious habit, rather than a desire to worship God and see what He is going to say when the Word is preached. They may well enjoy the sermon, but they have no intention of actually applying it to their lives. They see no connection between what happens in church and their day-to-day lives. Because of this, they are unlikely to recognise whether they are even in the right church, e.g. is the minister preaching words of faith, or dead religion? Teenagers in this category will very likely sit at the back of the church, not really paying attention to what’s happening, because it just isn’t real to them. A half-hearted Christian has recognised their need of the new birth – they certainly do not want to go to hell – but that is about as far as their Christianity goes. They do not realise that the Christianity that God wants them to experience – true Christianity – is something that will transform their lives from being much the same as the natural lives of those around them, into supernatural lives. They do not realise that we are not supposed to go to church on Sundays, and then live with the same problems and difficulties as the rest of the world. They do not realise that Jesus died to secure for them a better way of living. They do not realise that God offers real answers. In short, like the 1st Century Jews, these Christians are not the example to those around them that they are supposed to be.
People should look at our lives and see the goodness of God manifested.
You see, we are supposed to be advertising God to those around us, we are supposed to be what you could refer to as ‘living billboards’. People are supposed to look at our lives and say, “Wow! Whatever it is that makes their life different from mine, I want it“. People should look at our lives and see the goodness of God manifested. They should look at us and see people who are different from those around us. They should see people who are healthy, happy, kind, peaceful, loving, well off, who remain calm, etc. That is what will attract people to Jesus – when they see that Christianity is not just an empty religion, but that it actually makes a real difference in our lives. But more than that, they need to see people who actually believe the Bible. People who take seriously what God has said and who truly believe that it applies to them. People who pray in faith and expect results, people who refuse to accept sickness or disease, people who are always willing to give and yet never seem to lack anything.
You would only separate Christianity from the workings of the government if you don’t take Christianity seriously.
In my country, the United Kingdom, we have had leaders who profess to be Christians, but who seem to see their religion as a separate thing from their political decisions – what the U.S. refers to as the separation of church & state (although this is not what the writers of the US Constitution actually meant. The idea was to prevent the government interfering with the American Church, not to remove Christianity from the government). The reality is, you would only separate Christianity from the workings of the government if you don’t take Christianity seriously, if you don’t think that it has any relevance to day to day life. The majority of the leaders of the United Kingsom have (thus far) not shown much evidence of real Christianity, only of half-hearted Christianity. One exception is Margaret Thatcher, who in a 1988 speech to the Church of Scotland said, “We are told we must work and use our talents to create wealth……indeed, abundance rather than poverty has a legitimacy which derives from the very nature of Creation“.
There should be no need for discussion – the Bible hasn’t changed.
In 2014, the total number of abortions in England & Wales were 184,571 and yet the ‘Christian’ leaders here in the UK have not fought to ban this evil practice. Recently homosexual ‘marriage’ has been legalised and different church denominations held meetings to discuss what their position should be and in so doing demonstrated how weak their Christianity truly is. There should be no need for discussion – the Bible hasn’t changed. The Bible still clearly condemns homosexuality – whether the world likes it or not. Whatever level of society we are at, whether we are leading a country, or working in a supermarket, we need to be the sort of Christians who don’t comprise. Yes, that is going to upset some people, even some Christians – but so what? We need to be the sort of Christians who put God and His way of doing things before everything else. We must be prepared to be labelled as ‘right-wing’, ‘extremist’, ‘homophobic’ or whatever other label people come up with, rather than comprising so that they don’t call us names; rather than compromising so that we fit in and don’t upset anyone. Being referred to as tolerant and / or liberal is not something we should aspire to.
You cannot operate in God’s system and the world’s system at the same time.
God is offering us a life of abundance (John 10:10), but in order to experience this sort of life we need to separate ourselves from the world. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate“. There are two systems in operation on the Earth today: God’s system and the world’s system, and you cannot operate in both systems at the same time. Make your mind up that you are going to be fully committed to God’s system – His way of doing things. Determine that you are not going to be a half-hearted Christian, but that instead you are going to pursue God whole-heartedly. As we do this, as we separate ourselves from the crowd, it is likely that some, or maybe many, Christians will be uncomfortable and will distance themselves from us, but others will be impressed and want to join us.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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