When I first wrote this it felt very dangerous. I had been questioning whether or not this was helpful, harsh, or even heretical. But then I read some the the words of Christ and His brother James and realized that the same Spirit inspired all three.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Jesus in Matthew 7
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,and one of you says to them, “ Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, beingby itself.
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “ And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
James Chapter 2
I have issues with books that teach people how to be “christians”. I also have issues with “christian” being used as a word to describe something. Like “christian” music or “christian” practices, or “christian” flavored jelly beans.
“christian” is not a descriptor. It’s the identity of a person.
Within the earliest community of those who walked with Jesus it was the outsiders who saw people doing things like Jesus and to mock them called them “Christians” or “little-Christs”.
I know it may sounds like I’m splitting hairs here, but hear me out…
Constantine was one of the first, certainly not the last, ruler/politician to use his “faith” in Christ to perpetuate his popularity. He made it cool to be “christian”. And many chose to describe themselves as “christian”. And as a result of the popularity of self description the church became all but completely diluted. Emerging in shambles after such a fiery beginning. We’re still trying to put some of the pieces together, some of the unspoken truths that were passed down by experience.
This has been one of the most cunning techniques of our adversary over the centuries. He has lifted up false teachers lowering the bar and diluting the truth so that those who have not known God through Christ would believe that they were experiencing a “christian” life.
You may not be able to track with me up to this point, but have you ever met a “christian” who never talked to talk about Christ? Have you met someone who was unforgiving and unloving? Yet would fight to the death and tell you they we’re “christians”.
So, what do we do? How do we move away from this confusion and self description that leaves us so very scattered brained, leaving a terrible witness to the world?
What we do is walk with Jesus. We love Him and we love our neighbor. And we allow our relationship with Christ to cause such actions through us that others will see them and glorify our Father in heaven. We let others once again identify us as christians. We don’t describe ourselves, we are a new creature, created in the likeness of Christ. We are not a sectioned off group that chants dogma to one another to remind ourselves of what happened 2000 years ago. We live a vibrant life with God through Jesus Christ. We don’t quarantine off a Sabbath to seek God, we live in full connection with God every day. Because it’s our pleasure. We don’t use our status as “christian” to gain respect or to make others feel lesser than. Nor do we hold a message above others heads as if to lure them to a better life that we have. No. We lay down our lives, humble our selves to the least. Reveal the true character of divinity. A measly human life turned over into the hands of God does not need to describe that it is in fact a life turned over. The life should speak for itself.