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Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up?
How does this reflect God?
Talkin' But Not Walkin'
These days, we have been inundated with numerous entities of all types professing and proclaiming to be “Christian,” or attempting to align themselves as being in connection with God.
In awards shows, the lowest of the low in rap-dom gets awarded for songs with lyrics that proudly boast of the misuse, abuse and devaluation of women, to verbiage of harmful intent to the extent of murder.
These are some of the people who stand up at the podium, along with the female award winners, who have often openly flaunted and exposed themselves like strippers and prostitutes for public viewing; and claim, proclaim and thank god for their success achieved in that manner, while flashing huge crosses.
I don’t know what god they are thanking, but it’s not the one I know. The image they present to the world is not representative of the God I know.
Then too, are the familiar images of alleged “men of God,” talking into the camera and telling people to send money in order to receive spiritual blessings from God. Some have marketed and packaged their monetary pleas into prayer cloths and other forms of monthly gifts, all for the purpose of feeding their coffers with our money and all “allegedly” for the work of the Lord.
While I don’t doubt that some of these do use at least a portion of the funds to help people, what bothers me is that they don’t seem to exercise the faith that they preach while soliciting for money. That faith would dictate that they present their requests to the Lord, instead of to the people. God, Himself would then motivate the people to give accordingly, but this is not done.
So when normal people have to face things like the current economic situation; they follow suit, and fail to have the faith that God can and will provide without them having to throw a pep rally, bake sale, or make a commercial spot begging for money. They just don’t have that confidence in God as a provider, because even the leadership of the church demonstrates this lack of faith by begging for money during every broadcast.
Then you have the average Joe, who you may see and interact with on a daily basis; who is afraid to “let their light shine,” because aside from the embarrassing images that are allegedly representing the church these days, which cause believers some measure of hesitancy about sharing their faith; is the very real concern about giving the appearance of pushing their beliefs on others, so they feel like spiritual failures. Some just don’t feel prepared enough to share and be able to answer questions because they still have so many themselves.
Others go boldly forth with little to no knowledge at all, which is can be even more intimidating to the people they approach.
These are the overbearing zealots, who stand on the street corners with doomsday signs and bullhorns, preaching at people in unintelligible language and loudness, and who basically only succeed in running people away from the very thing they are (in ignorance) attempting to proclaim.
You can always tell someone who’s gone off on a wild tangent, and who does not have a real knowledge base to support what they are professing.
Many people just don’t want to hear what Christians have to say due in part to these images, many of which are a false representation of the church, as well as the self-righteous attitude many Christians and churches display of judgment instead of love.
It can be unnerving for people to converse with someone who’s conversation is constantly peppered with “thank you Lord,” or “praise Jesus,” in every sentence. Certainly, before that person got saved, they didn’t constantly thank the devil in every sentence, or praise demons, so this “alleged” and excessively “sanctified” behavior just becomes redundant and comes off as phony.
Another group of odd-ball claimers are the people who actually profess a completely different religion. These people have an entirely different set of beliefs like Hindu, Jehovah’s Witness, and scientologists, and sometimes even atheists among others. Yet, some from these groups try to associate and claim they are “Christian” too, despite worshiping statues, beads and other doctrines and theologies. They claim that “Everyone is Christian.”
It’s as if saying you are Christian is the new fad or fashion. It is now popular to hold up a cross that is worn as a status symbol only while on an award show stage, and thank God. This is supposed to impress somebody.
First, they don’t seem to recognize that it is the profession of Christ as one’s personal savior that is the key to the Christian faith. A lack of faith in him and acceptance of price he paid for the sins of the world denotes no association with Christian beliefs.
Second, they don’t seem to recognize that the Christian faith is not based on religion, but on a relationship with Christ, himself. In world religions, there is always the “go-between guy,” whether it is the pope, or some other figurehead, there is always something or someone that stands between the faithful and the god they serve.
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Not with Christianity. There is no veil, no cloud, no pillar, and no wall of fire. There is no priest to confess to other than God himself. No one else has to know what you’ve done, but God, and you can confess to him directly.
No one else can clean your life up for you but God. Therefore, it stands to reason that you need direct contact with Him and directions from Him, and that would require a one on one relational situation.
Has an institution been built around this faith? Yes, but it is not the basis of it. There are charlatans everywhere, in every facet of life, and there are more to come. This is why we need to be able to identify who is who.
So how can one tell who’s real, and who’s not? So many people are so quick to view Christians negatively, and it’s annoying to those of us who strive to really walk in that faith, to be viewed in conjunction with and next to some of the phonies mentioned above who drum up those negative connotations.
The key to knowing who’s who lies in their identity. This is not determined by the standards we see so often, as mentioned above. Life is made up of images, and oftentimes, we allow our perceptions to get clouded with, and determined by the images we have been exposed to our entire lives. Many of those images may not have a single thing to do with reality or the truth. They are simply impressions, and we are exposed to millions of them daily.
This is why no one can say what their child will or will not do, or think, or become, because a parent is not with their child every second of the day to intercept and eradicate what they perceive to be harmful influences. They best that they can do is pray daily for their children, asking God to guard their minds; and give them the best guidance possible.
Hollywood tries to impress us into thinking that image is everything, and many people work extremely hard to obtain, maintain, and proclaim a certain image.
They think that image defines them and often fall apart when that image is no longer popular. If they are unable to move with that change, they will often lose themselves, because they associate their personal identity with that image. It is this sense of lost identity that has bred the celebrity comeback reality shows we now see airing.
Other people think that their profession is the determining factor, so when they lose their career, they feel worthless, and are despondent because they thought their profession defined who they are as people. For some, just having a job defines and identifies them as worthwhile. But, our worth is defined by our creator and not by anything or anyone else.
How is all of this related to Christians? Well, Christians have a severe identity problem. They sing songs about being “just a sinner, saved by grace.” I happen to love that song, particularly the Gaither Vocal Band’s rendition. However, if I believe that…then I continue to believe that I’m a sinner, nothing more, despite the fact that I am saved by grace.
The first problem with that thinking is that when I accepted Christ, He moved in…His Spirit resides in me, so I am more than who I was and much more than just a sinner who got saved by His grace. Believing I’m still a sinner gives me an excuse, a justification and in essence, a license to continue living as I was before Christ entered my life.
We will always struggle with the flesh, because of our first birth, and our current place of residence, which is tied to a cursed earth. Anyone under the delusion that Christians are (supposed to be) perfect, is fooling themselves. The spirit will always fight and war with the flesh because they are polar opposites.
Because of the sin of Adam, all of mankind became estranged from God…fallen. Thus every person since Adam and Eve are birthed into this fallen condition, which automatically puts us at a disadvantage, and estranges us from God.
This is our identity spiritually prior to Christ entering our lives. Once Christ enters our lives, and we accept His gift of salvation, a new birth spiritually takes place that re-links us to God’s kingdom and identifies us with Christ. Therefore, the key to our identity lies in our birth.
Every person has an identity when they are born, based upon what family they are born in. Being born into that family identifies that person as being part of that family. But even as a child can be adopted into another family and attain their identity from their new family; so also does God adopt us into His family.
When that happens, the process is done through a new birth (registration process) that realigns us from our original bloodline to Christ’s, and we attain our new identity from Him. This is what makes us part of God’s family and gives us the ability to claim ourselves as His children.
Look in nearly every city these days, and you will see a white or Latino male who has completely accepted and adopted the African American culture. He will walk the walk, talk the talk, and dress in that street look from the hood. He will be totally into soul music and rap, and be covered in bling. He may even love soul food, and ride with da fellas in a hoop-d.
Right now, I can think of a friend of mine that fits much of the description above. He is a white, Irish male, who is totally into the Afro-American culture, and swears he’s a black man in a white man’s skin. However, if he has to fill out an employment document, or any type of government document that requests a racial identity, you can bet that he’s not going to put African American. Why? He can only claim that which he is…his real identity, which lies in the nationality of his birth origins.
Unless he gets a new birth, his identity remains the same. So it is with real Christians. They have to have experienced a new birth, and that birth is in and through Christ.
The reason that Christians are struggling with their former habits and behaviors, is that they have their identity confused, and are of the opinion or belief that they have to work their way into their faith. One of the most popular deceptions brought about by Satan is that homosexuals were born into that way of life. If someone believes they are born that way, then they have no real hope of escaping that lifestyle, and that’s the trap he sets. It’s all in what we perceive and believe.
None of us worked to be born. We struggle because we believe foolishness that people tell us; just like I did from a former friend of 20 or more years. What did she say to me that helped to trap me in a struggle? “You need to relax and have a little fun. You deserve it. After all, you’re only human.”
This ideology represents the “religion” of, or reliance upon “self- sufficiency,” wherein I am my own god. Our desire to be independent from Christ is what provokes trials and tribulations, and is the source of our struggles because in seeking independence from God, we walk with fear and are no longer secure.
Truth be told, I’m not “only” human. If I was, I couldn’t claim Christ, because his Spirit resides in me, which makes me more than just a human. But unfortunately, I believed what she said at that time, and am struggling to this day as a result. She subsequently turned around and judged me based on this same struggle, and we have gone our separate ways as a result. All because I didn’t realize that what I do does not define my identity in Christ; what I believe defines it. My salvation is not performance based and it took this struggle and situation for me to understand that fact.
We will always fall short as long as we live on this earth. There is no perfection here in a cursed domain; since we were raised up from it and it is part of our physical makeup. It does define our nature to the degree we allow it to.
This knowledge, however, does not give us a license to sin. It does allow us to recognize that our humanity is still intact, despite our beliefs. Therefore, we should watch the fruits of one’s spirit to determine the extent of their faith, or lack thereof without judgment. Only God knows those who are truly His, and that person could just be struggling with their identity in Christ. They need prayer, not condemnation.
The point is that either I identify myself with Christ due to my new birth in him, or I identify myself as a sinner due to my original birth (defect) into this world. It’s one or the other. Therefore it is my faith; not my works, not my performance, not whether I impress people that I’m such a good Christian, not what I have or don’t have, nor the work I do or the career I have, not the car I drive, or the house I live in, and certainly not what I do wrong; that defines me as a Christian believer. For we walk by faith and not by sight, and I’m not going to let what I do in my human weakness define who I am or who’s I am.
We are not perfect. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory. And, we will always be struggling with our lesser selves while on this earth, striving to walk like Him, but needing humility because we are not Him. Therefore we can never walk in His perfection while on this planet. The only thing we can actually perfect as believers is our faith and trust in Him.
To understand this, we need to look at Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus about the kingdom of God. His answer to Nicodemus was that he would not see the kingdom of God unless he was “born again.”
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
This means that he could not identify himself, or be linked to the kingdom of God without a new birth, no matter how much of a “good” person he was. That birth has to be in the spirit, because our first birth linked us to sin.