My life course has run off a cliff. Im flying- floating- falling. I am thinking about the path that God has laid out before me. He knows what I will do, but I still sit and try to understand my next step. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not looking for what’s “perfect.” Yes, I one day want a stable job, a wife and hopefully children of my own, but for now, I’m trying to accept how the Lord is moving in my life, and where I think He’s taking me. I have for a long time been passionate about evangelism, and I feel that I am being called to minister to my community and my surrounding world. With that said, here is the current state of my heart in regard to evangelism.
Andy Stanley mentions in a series that he has named “Loophole Christians” that Christianity is a brand, (and it is) and that the label of Christianity has taken excessive amounts of abuse. He speaks eloquently and creatively about how since the death of Christ, the Christian nation has been finding loopholes in his word. I’ve written about my thoughts on “Christianity” in other posts, and in my personal documentation. However, I would like to shed light on what I feel Stanley brings to attention. There’s so much to learn from both his perspective, and what it means to us. I want to begin by giving you a sentence that may come across slightly odd. Here it is: Atheists make the best Christ followers.
Please don’t stop reading. You’ll see that I have a legitimate explanation for my prediction. I want to include that I have been feeling a heavy call to a form of evangelism, and that is why I’m feeling pressed to write about the subject. Whether it’s down the street or abroad, the message is being completely mis-interpreted. Because Christianity is a brand, I feel passionate about being critical of myself, and others that are not being excellent purveyors of this good. You see, one must fully understand where the differences lay between being a “Christian” and a Christ follower. I’ll parrot Andy Stanley a few times throughout this post, but I want to stay central what it means to be an actual Christ follower, not just a “Christian.”
Do you remember playing a game called telephone in grade school? You know, one person would say something, then turn to the person sitting beside them, whisper it in their ear, and then that person would do the same… and so on and so forth. My heart has responded very strongly to the idea that Christianity and churches have fallen victim to the very same process happening with God’s word. Through time, as society changes, we continue to interpret and tailor exactly God’s word to suit our lifestyle. Ever wonder why there are so many denominations of Christianity? Ever though it odd that evangelism can be viewed as incredibly good and equally as incredibly bad if not done right? I’m trying to understand what it is that Jesus was teaching us before he died about ministering to others. So, why Lord, do we have people disgracing you by using hate and fear in your name? What’s worse is that they’re using this hatred to gain your favor, and to win other’s hearts. – Pause-
No. Something happened. I believe we’re lost. Oh how we need to reread what you said.
Stanley mentions the idea that there are people consumed by the label, or brand of the “Christian” faith. To obtain it, all that needs to be done is to fall into a routine. Perhaps you show up every sunday, throw your hands in the air during worship, and you feel good… you soak it all up. You write a bible verse in the header of all your social profiles to assert your faith, and you have a big group of church friends. There is a part of me that wants to apologize for being brash but at the same time, I feel that I owe no apology for re-setting the course for the few who may read this. Some have fallen into the mentality that our faith honors us… that it’s here for our gluttony… that it’s a checklist that we fill in exchange for our ticket.
God loves us strongly so that we may have the power to love others strongly. We are a part of God’s heart when we exercise that type of love. When I mentioned that Atheists make the best Christ followers, I meant it. Why? When they set out to debunk God, they skip over the crowds of pretension and labels. They avoid the groups that often drive them away from God’s house in the first place. They do what most of us fail to do- open a Bible, and drink from the source. It’s there that they understand see what Jesus said. Love regardless. Forgive. Love others as I have loved you. When Jesus said “love each other as I have loved you,” he didn’t follow it by saying “EXCEPT for criminals, homosexuals, gamblers, thieves, addicts, politicians, murderers, rapists, and liars.” “It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.”
I fear that most commonly, people allow their pride to stand in the way of the love God instilled inside our very souls. It’s in our nature to be close to people, and to love, yet we find this thing called Christianity, and we keep it for ourselves. We look at those that aren’t like us, and tell them they’re not worthy of our faith, and somehow we expect the world’s view of Jesus to be good? Have you ever found yourself pointing and saying that person doesn’t belong in a church… maybe they’re not a”church“person? You’re CRAZY if you think the thought process of exclusion is the way. My hands shake and my heart beats nearly out of my chest when I think about how who we’ve lost. I’ve come toe-to-toe with men and women pointing their crooked fingers in my face and condemn me to hell as if they’re God, and they identify themselves as Christians…and you know what? They are. They belong to the label. They’re destroying a brand. While they call themselves Christians, I cannot see them as Christ followers.
Atheists go to the source. Jesus didn’t speak words of ambiguity. The Bible is not like our constitution… to be interpreted and applied in a world to be relevant. What was true then should be true now. Look at the miraculous lives of prominent Christian writers like Anne Rice and C.S. Lewis and how then came from an Atheist background to having a full, intimate, and deep understanding of God’s word. They went straight to the source. Stanley mentions that Anne Rice has made clear that she will no longer associate herself with the Christian label. Rather, she will be known as a Christ follower; a disciple. I want to challenge both you and I to be more like Christ. Is it difficult? Yes. Incredibly. Forgiveness is something every person on the face of the planet has a hard time with, I don’t care what they say. But let me pose this quandary to you: When you make a mistake, do you not want forgiveness? I hope the answer is yes. If so, would you extend forgiveness to others? Can you look past the ugly, the fear, the anger, sickness and mental deformities and know that they are still the image of God’s creation? You see, sometimes we think that when we’re close to God, he loves us more… but we’re wrong. He wants their hearts too.
(I’m almost done)
Don’t just attend church. Don’t just listen. Don’t just read… Do. Being a Christ follower doesn’t stop at a feeling. It’s also a verb. You need to make a change, actively love others who’ve become lost and alone, even when it’s not glamorous or not instagrammable. Do it when nobody is looking. Keep it to yourself. God sees your heart. Are you reading the Bible, or are you waiting to hear it from someone else?