March 8, 2013

The Thin Veneer of Christianity

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when you compare the Jesus followers of His time with many of the folks who call themselves Christians today. Just from reading the Gospels and the book of Acts in the New Testament, a casual reading would confirm that following Jesus was counter culture, at the expense of everything else- money, security, worldly wisdom, popularity, power and position. It cost everything, even requiring giving up the old way of living.

Jesus himself told his believers that they would see wolves in sheep's clothing, weeds among the wheat, those proclaiming to follow him that would conform in thought and deed to the patterns of this world instead of pursuing a life of holiness, and growing in closeness to him. It happens inside the church and outside the church, and in all levels of involvement. The Apostle Paul warns us against it: 

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and elemental spiritual forces rather than on Christ." (Colossians 2:28) 

We see this today as many claim Him but call sin anything but, making excuses for it or valuing human wisdom and  "intelligence" above God's own word- making truth relative instead of submitting to what God says is true, conveniently forgetting Jesus said to the woman in adultery that she was to go and sin no more. Whoops. Those are the more blatant examples but not the only ones. Reminder from the Old Testament:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3) 

(Hey, don't get mad at me, God has made the rules. Read his rulebook as to define what is and isn't sin.)

What is this so hard to understand? As with anything of value or anything that grows, you must work at it, tend to it, to see it bear good fruit. Yet, Christianity is all too often thought of as a philosophy or "fire insurance", with some moving on to live their lives as they please. Pity- and it gives Christianity a very bad name.

Some folks have walked the opposite direction in seeing the hypocrisy of some in the church. They claim Christ but live and think like the world; no discernment, no wisdom, just following the same paths to destruction as many around them. The Bible becomes archaic or outdated, and they prefer their faith comes from those preaching prosperity and humanism. Or worse, they just create another veneer, making up their own beliefs but adding the name of Jesus to it. Egotistical at best, deadly at its worst.

An easy question to help you and I measure our relationship to Jesus: Are we closer to Him and becoming more like Him? Are we more obedient to God or do we look more like the world, valuing what the world says is important and thinking like those of a humanistic lifestyle? 

Jesus is returning to the earth one day, and He will judge the world. Heaven in Hell lie in the balance for each person. God sent Jesus because of His great love, not His anger. But He requires those wanting forgiveness and relationship for eternity to stay the course and pursue Him. Those who are truly His should be actively seeking His heart, His guidance, His wisdom, not that of earthly standards and beliefs. But that happens every day, sometimes in small doses, one step at a time. If you know and love Him, seek after Him with all your heart. Perpetually.

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