Bet that title got your attention!
Each time a tragedy strikes our nation, the Christian leaders open their mouths and begin to say the stupidest, most insensitive and Un-Christ-like and Ungodly things I can think of. Usually they have to do with the fact that God is punishing people, and bringing judgment upon them.
Now before you think I’m not going to jump on the other side of things I also take issue with all the people who want to use this as a jumping off point to debate gun control or their right to own and use guns. This tragedy isn’t even a week old, there are still funerals for little children going on and already Facebook has been inundated with people from every side turning the tragedy into a way to debate everything from mental health care and gun control to prayer in schools. It’s insensitive and rude.
Here’s the thing. People who have no relationship with God watch those of us that claim that relationship, many times with great interest. What makes it worse is the fact that many of them know the Bible better than some of us. They also know what a “Christian” is supposed to be, they know what Jesus did and what Jesus said, mainly because they are waiting for someone that claims to be a Christian to step out of line. It’s hard for people who’s idea of God is rooted in old testament stories told by Hollywood, or in the mythology of other cultures, or in the latest expose put on by any one of the science,technology, art and whatever else documentary channels are on TV. I have found that the idea of grace is a foreign concept not just in the church where it is reserved solely for the sinner, but also to people outside of a relationship with God who really don’t understand that true Christianity is more than what they see on TV and what they hear on the radio.
All of this coupled with the senselessness of the past week, and an increasing realization that the name the label of Christian has become diluted, misunderstood, misinterpreted and misappropriated. It’s easy to say I’m a Christian, ask any number of actors, singer, or sports figures and I would guess that a majority would identify themselves as Christian, some would say “well we pray before concerts” It’s too easy to be a Christian when all you have to do is name the name and spout a few proverbs that sound Biblical even if they don’t really come from the book. The best example I can see of this is a category from American Bible Challenge, I find it refreshing that this is one of GSN’s top ranking shows, at the same time I find it disconcerting that a contestant who also happens to be a youth pastor doesn’t know the name of David’s first wife. For the record it’s Michal, equally disconcerting is the inability of some to differentiate between a Quote from Lord of the Rings and a Quote from Scripture. Christianity has become the religion of choice for so many mainly because it is arguably the easiest of all religions to espouse, especially looking at the example so many have before them today.
That is the reason for my title. I’m not a Christian, I’m a Christ follower. Some may say that I’m playing at a shell game, attempting to hide my beliefs from people, or being ashamed of the Gospel, perhaps some may even say that I’m denying the Father. That’s just it though I’m not. I am keenly aware of the work that Christ did on the cross for my sins. I have recognized that on my own I can’t make it no matter how hard I try, I have accepted the fact that only God can make a difference in my life and that he desired to do so through the sacrifice of his son. I have made that acceptance part of my daily life, I have asked for forgiveness for sin, I continue to do so. I walk daily as best as I can with God. I have had plenty of chances to mess up, and have done so. I have tried to be the man, all of that is detailed in these pages just look back a ways. You will find a angry, bitter, broken worried, caring, frightened, hurt, healthy, excited, confused, man, but you will also find a man who has been through much and will go through more. Through it all I will cling tightly to the grace that has changed me, has allowed me to be broken, has put me back together, the grace that has saved me.
That’s another thing that I have come to realize as well. Many people feel that salvation is God’s way of keeping His creation out of Hell, and while that is a part of it. I have found that I don’t need to be saved from the world, or any myriad of issues there. What I need saving from the most is from myself, in fact it’s what we all need saved from. Left to our own devices, no matter how much we want to disagree or argue at the end of the day we all are alone with our thoughts, feelings and desires. Jesus wants to come in and be a part of that time in our day, the time when we are the most alone, the most vulnerable. That’s what being a Christ follower is all about, letting him in, all the way in and then following wherever he takes you.
Looking at the reaction to last Friday’s tragedy I get frustrated and angry as I said before, because instead of reaching out to help a need everyone wants to talk about why it happened, and what could have been done or should have been done. Here’s the problem, it’s too late to do those things, if we would recognize this, embrace that fact and then those that claim to be Christians would instead be Christ Followers, and ask him where he’s headed in the whole mess, I think we would be in a very different place.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
Those verses say it all. That’s what a Christ Follower does. If we do that if we live like that people will see, and hear and listen and then maybe just maybe they will want to join us on the path as a Christ Follower.