Keith Giles is an author, blogger and freelance copywriter in Orange County, California.
WHAT IS SUBVERSIVE? It’s a systematic overthrow of one system or power by those working from within.
Jesus said the Kingdom of God was immediately accessible to all who follow Him. This is the Gospel message. This is subversive.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
PART 2: WHY ARE (SOME) CHRISTIANS SO MEAN?
Reason #2 – Christians in America don’t know what makes
you a Christian
I think the second reason that some Christians are so
mean – or act nothing like Jesus – is because we evangelize people the wrong
way. By that I mean that we tell people that they are “Christians” if they have
prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” regardless of how they are living their lives
This “Sinner’s Prayer” appears nowhere in the Bible, by
the way. It’s just something we made up to make it easier to evangelize. This
focus on ease of conversion is part of what’s wrong with the Church today.
Rather than to invite people to follow Jesus (become Disciples) and obey Him in
their actual lives, we urge them to repeat after us: “Jesus I believe that you
died on the cross for my sins and that you rose from the dead and that you are
coming back to take me to live with you in Heaven one day. Thank you Jesus for
your gift of eternal life which I receive today. Amen.”
Once we get people to repeat this prayer (or something
like it) we tell them that they are now “Christians”. Of course, getting them
to pray that prayer isn’t so difficult if you start off by asking them
something like, “Do you know that if you died tonight you would be in Heaven
tomorrow?” or maybe even “With every head bowed and every eye closed, please
just quickly raise your hand if you don’t want to burn in hell forever. I see
that hand, thank you.” And then we ask them to repeat that magic prayer and –
voila - they will go to heaven when they die.
Of course, Jesus had a slightly different method. First
of all he called for people to follow Him. Not too complicated. Might actually fit
that on a bumper sticker. But then He added that if anyone wanted to follow Him
(become a disciple) they would have to give up just one thing – He called it
“Those of you who do not give up everything you have
cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and
take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
This is pretty different, I’ll admit. Notice that Jesus
doesn’t ask anyone about a preference for burning forever or not. Notice that
He doesn’t ask them to repeat any magic prayers. Later on, just before He left
His Kingdom in the hands of those same disciples He added this part:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
So, Jesus expected us to make more followers (disciples)
and then to “teach them to obey everything (He) commanded.”
Obedience is part of the package, according to Jesus. If
you’re going to call yourself a “follower of Jesus” you might just have to, you
know, follow Him and stuff.
This sort of theology allows people to think that just
because they repeated a prayer when they were nine years old, they can go ahead
and live any way they want – even become a Satanist or a Hindu, or whatever –
and still go to heaven when they die. But that’s not what Jesus says. He says that
only those who “remain in (Him)” have life and those who do not remain in Him
do not have life. In fact, those who do not remain in Christ are the ones who
will be “like a branch that is cast out..and thrown into the fire and burned”
Trust me, if you prayed a prayer a few years ago but
today you are far away from Christ and you are not remaining in fellowship and
relationship with Jesus, you will not end up where you wanted to be. Or, as
Paul says in Collosians 3:3-4:
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in
God.When Christ, who is your life,
appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
The problem is that we’ve turned salvation into a
“thing”. We’ve overstressed the fact that salvation is a “gift” and then carried
that metaphor out to an illogical (and heretical) conclusion.
Yes, salvation is a gift from God, in the sense that it
is free and you don’t deserve it. But it’s not a gift in the sense that you can
take it (like a pair of socks) and wear it apart from the one who gave it to
you. That’s not how salvation works. Apart from Christ there is no life. Those
who are in Christ have life, those who do not have Christ do not have life.
Therefore, we need to remain in Christ and as long as we cling to Jesus we have
Or, as the Apostle John states it:
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal
life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does
not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
If you prayed a prayer just so that you could go to
Heaven when you die, you might not be a Christian.
I urge you to take a moment
and pray a different sort of prayer. Something that takes into account that you
are alive today and that you want your life to be lived in Christ right now.
This prayer should be about surrendering your will and your attitudes to Christ
Jesus, and dying to yourself so that Jesus’ life can fill you on the inside and
spill out to those on the outside.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
See? Isn’t that better? Now, the deal is you will need to
do this again tomorrow. All of us need to daily take up our cross and die (over
and over again) so that Christ can live in us.
If we do that, we might just avoid being mean to others
and at the very least we will be doing our best to obey Jesus in our actual
lives. That means loving others, forgiving those who offend us, and serving the
people He puts in our path.