Amazing Disgrace

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 9:23 NLT

We live in a world that has so abused the title "Christian", that it is difficult to create even a loose definition of the word by simply observing the behaviors of those who claim to be Christians. Imagine what that definition would look like:

Christian /'krish-chen/

1. Someone who manipulates people into supporting their plans or goals. This type of manipulation may include lying, cheating or otherwise maliciously influencing people in an effort to achieve one's goals.

2. Someone who smiles to your face, but acts aggressively towards you behind your back. The techniques used may vary, but a heavy dependence upon slander, gossip and general exhibitions of hatred are typically observed.

3. Someone who is selfish and self-centered. It is typical to see this person place a high value proposition on their own ideas and it is important that people offer applauds and accolades in order for them to achieve any type of self-worth.

The word Christian was originally used by outsiders as derogative slang for those who were adhering to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It was intended to be a slanderous name and was used as a verb like descriptor which is most strongly represented by saying that a Christian is "a slave belonging to Christ".

The phrase "a slave belonging to Christ" paints a radically different picture of Christianity than what I have typically experienced with those who claim to be Christians (including myself). To help illustrate the strong meaning of that phrase, let's take a look at some of the typical characteristics of a slave:

1. A slave will do whatever the master wants A Christian should do whatever Jesus wants

2. A slave does not expect any accolades or recognition A Christian should not expect any accolades or recognition (because it rightfully belongs to Jesus)

3. A slave looks out for the interests of the master A Christian should look out for the interests of Jesus and his kingdom

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

So why does it matter? Who cares if we have misrepresented the title "Christian"? The answer is two-fold:

1. You may spend forever separated from God If we consider the two scriptures above (Luke 9:23 and Matthew 7:21-23), we will see that there are requirements for being a Christian. It is not enough to simply say a prayer and get baptized, but rather there is the requirement of surrendering our will to Jesus on a daily (if not moment-by-moment) basis. We have to choose to follow Jesus and be obedient to what He tells us. According to these two passages (and many others), failure to do so ultimately results in separation from God and punishment in the lake of fire forever.

2. Your friends and family may spend forever separated from God because of your example As if the first issue is not bad enough, by misrepresenting the title "Christian", we are likely to negatively influence the people closest to us causing them to miss a true relationship with Jesus as well.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT

What do we do if we have fallen into the trap of misrepresenting Jesus? 2 Chronicles 7:14 paints the perfect picture which includes humbling ourselves, praying, seeking God's face, and turning from our wicked ways. If we do those things, then God said that He will hear us, forgive us, and restore us.

Jesus is so loving; even as His slave, He is looking out for our best interests.