A Big, Big House Newsletter Archives
Contact Me
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Affiliate Ad

    Recommended Reading
    • Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters (Complete In One Volume)
      Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters (Complete In One Volume)
      by C.S. Lewis
    • Toxic Faith
      Toxic Faith
      by Stephen Arterburn, Jack Felton
    • The Visitation
      The Visitation
      by Frank Peretti
    • Fox's Book of Martyrs
      Fox's Book of Martyrs
      by John Foxe

    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Life Scripted or, The Devil’s in the Details | Jesus Responds to Other Religions: A Few Notes »
    Tuesday
    Jun072011

    Selling Christianity Part 3: Become a Christian in 3-5 Easy Steps

    I have been to several megachurches over the past few years and am admittedly not a huge fan. I was raised in a medium-sized church (no fries, please) where nearly everybody knew my name and vice-versa. I like that.

     

    With any church though, I have to wonder…if they are bringing as many people to Christ as they claim, if thousands regularly attend their churches and hundreds volunteer, etc. why are there still so many lonely, poor, distressed, depressed people with broken families, divorced spouses, and violent passions within the church?

     

    Is it possible that we have done such a great job in selling Christianity, we have cheapened its value and worth? Where or what is the evidence for changed lives/new lives in Christ in any church big or small? WWJD (or maybe it is WDJD-What Did Jesus Do?)?

     

    In answer to the second question first, where or what is the evidence for changed lives (aka Christians), the Bible seems clear. Righteous/Holy living (not legalistic or mystic living) pleases God, and it isn’t easy.  

     

    The myriad of rules and regulations stipulated by God in His covenant to the people of Israel in the Old Testament was intimidating and not to be taken lightly. Yet, there were a notable few whom God counted as “righteous” (Noah, Genesis 6:9; Abraham, James 2:21; and Job, Job 1, are a few examples).

     

    These were few and far between, however. In Noah’s case, he preached to his neighbors who all scoffed and scorned him as crazy. With Abraham, he haggled with God for the people in Sodom and Gomorrah until the number was down to only ten righteous people, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy” (Genesis 18:32).

     

    After all the miracles and wondrous visuals God provided the people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt, they solemnly agreed as “one voice” (Exodus 24:3) to the covenant stipulations set forth by God. Which they promptly broke only 40 days later by forming, sacrificing, and reveling around the golden calf idol (Exodus 32). 

     

    Most people understand the God of the O.T. to be wrathful and vengeful, wiping out cities, nations, and one time the whole world. Would it surprise you to find God was just as loving and tender in the O.T. as we assume Him to be in the New?

     

    In the N.T. we meet Jesus, but God has not changed at all. God pleads with the people in Ezekiel (33:11) to turn from evil and live! He does not want to see any of His precious creations destroyed.

     

    BUT…With Jesus, there are many passages in which it seems He purposefully confuses people, or angers them to turn them away. Many times He tells people what is required (it is never “easy” or “simple”) and they turn away (Matthew 8:18-22; Matthew 10:37-39; Matt. 10:21-22) unwilling to fulfill the requirements.

     

    We have a tendency to make our human view of love, God’s love. They are not the same thing. Humans desire emotion, experience, and profoundness. There is that to be had in a relationship with the Almighty, but He is much more interested in character and heart.

    “What need have I of your sacrifices?” (Isaiah 1:11)

     

    Elijah had some profound experiences, but how did God choose to speak to Him in the cave? In a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12).

     

    We forget that many, many Christians have endured severe persecution, and died (and still do) horrible deaths because they held on to the Truth. We actually lie to people when we say the Christian walk is “easy” because “my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matt. 11:28-30 in which Jesus promises rest for the weary soul, not an easy Christian walk).

    “In this world you WILL HAVE TROUBLE” (John 16:33).

     

    Matthew 10:34-36 says “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Strong words.

     

    In a sincerely well-meaning attempt at “saving” others, we have done more harm than good. It has resulted in disingenuous relationships, where good, sweet Christians have had people stand in line taking a number and tallying another “saved soul”.

     

    Jesus got to know people. He had weighty conversations with people, sometimes briefly, sometimes over hours or days (read the Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) Jesus did not send surveys, decision cards, or tracts. How insultingly impersonal!

      

    We forget too, that God is interested in the details. See how He instructs David, Joshua at the Battle of Jericho, Gideon, Elijah, Hosea, Moses, Noah, etc. God does not change, therefore we need to be aware if we truly desire Him, we must give every little life’s detail over to Him. This is not easy and takes lots of time.

     

    Perhaps the biggest thing is NOT coming to Jesus simply because you agree with what He says and therefore want to just “follow Him”. Come to Jesus because you recognize where you stand in the world, and WHO HE IS.

     

    Come to Him because you want to SERVE Him and Him alone. His is an open invitation, but come to Him because you NEED Him, because He LOVED you first as unworthy as we all are. He IS King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; not just a “nice guy”, not just a “good teacher”, not just a rebel against the political tyrants of His day. “Who do you say I am?”  (Matthew 16).

     

    Culture and our own inherent pride tells us (sometimes shouting) we are good people, capable of wonderful things! Our egos tell us we are special, have special gifts, and just need to come to grips with who we are to find fulfillment.

     

    Media is filled with images of tough, independent heroes who rarely get sick or injured, never get lonely, are always beautiful, always kick booty, are fiercely loyal, and are cleverer than a pack of Sherlock Holmes’.

     

    We can choose to go at life our own way, believing ourselves to be independent and free, or we can turn to Jesus who is the only way to true life (He created it), and submit ourselves humbly as unworthy but willing bond-servants (aka slaves-the very word sounds so inhumane and distasteful) to Him. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

     

    We can never ascend to God, become “one” with Him, or save ourselves through personal sacrifice, charitable actions, or faith (we cannot save ourselves by our faith as many churches and websites imply).

     

    We are not that good, or spiritual, or lovely, or knowledgeable. He had to come down to us to fill the gap that we made. And He filled it with His blood, sweat, tears, and pain.

     

    There is no other religion in which the Creator, Most-High God steps down out of Heaven to die for His own rebellious creatures so they could be reconciled to Him. Most other religions find this notion abhorrent.

     

    By being well-meaning and trying to make things easy to remember and carry out using a 4 or 5 step “program” to becoming a Christian, I am afraid we have neutered the Gospel. We have weakened it, boxed it in, and made it something it is not: unchallenging. Who wants that for the long haul? Is this perhaps why people are leaving churches in droves?

     

    This is a relationship (not a religion) based on utter dependency. This is difficult because as people, we have inherent pride and desire for freedom and “my way”. We should not just sit back and let things come; God expects common sense and constant study and discernment. “Be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Neither can we hide away, cloistered in a private cave for long.

     

    God will always provide for our needs, but not always for our wants. We need food, clothes, and shelter. We do not need perfect health, children, status, nice clothes, large houses, a “ministry”, or even education.

     

    But we seem to believe these wants are our rights as Christians. God understands physical needs and desires, but He is more interested in character, dependence, and especially our love for Him.

     

    Many churches and websites and books include step-by-step instructions for becoming a Christian. They usually involve explaining the problem of sin in relation to people and God, believing in Jesus as a Savior, confessing sin, repenting, and accepting salvation in faith.

     

    While this is not necessarily “wrong”, I suggest it is too simplistic. Biblically speaking there is no special prayer that needs to be said, but the evidence for a Christian shows up in their lives through the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), righteous living, love of truth, and love of other Christians. Don’t follow Jesus, walk with Him.

     “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). 

     

    Revelation 3:20
    "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in ..."


    "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)

     

    (See also: The Greatest Commandment)

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    Post:
     
    Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>