“If this Jesus thing is so important to Christians, why aren’t they obsessed with it?”
“You shouldn’t talk so much about the Bible and religious stuff. If I wanted to hear it, I would go to church!”
I was listening to an old podcast this morning during which the host mentioned a couple of emails he received, two of which are paraphrased above. While he often received letters from atheists telling him to stop talking so much about God, he was somewhat shocked to receive one from a man professing to be a christian. Why would a christian say something like that? The comment from the atheist was also eye-opening. If Jesus, life eternal, following His commands, and everything that goes with it means so much, why doesn’t it consume every part of Christian’s lives, or at least appear to do so?
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is not longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
~Matthew 5:14-16 ~
What happens if you put a lamp under a bowl? Not only will the light be useless to everyone who needs it, the light will go out. Yet this is exactly what we Christians have done with Christianity. We go to church, hopefully, and then go out into the world with a cap over that flame as if it didn’t exist. Where has our fire gone? Where has our love and passion for the Gospel gone? The letter from the listener really convicted me. Why is this joy not always on my face, the praise for my Creator and Savior not on my lips? Why is prayer mostly relegated to mornings and evenings? Why does anger fill my heart at times? Why do I respond to accusations and discomfort with hate? Is this light inside of me shining for others to glorify God?
A lot of important subjects have been relegated to the back seats of our lives. After all, what are the things you are “never supposed to talk about”? Sex, money, politics, religion. What are the things we most need to talk about? Those very things. They are important as they have an enormous impact on our day-to-day life. For one in particular, the impact is also on the life to come. Yet we have decided that God, Jesus, and religion is just for church! You don’t need to talk about it with friends, family, on podcasts! In a way, as this podcaster mentioned, our churches have become secular and our lives atheistic.
Scripture says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” But how do people recognize us today? Do we care for the people around us regardless of who they are? Do we show the love of Christ and His effect on our lives? Where is Christ evident in our lives? In all honestly, I struggle to see a difference in the lives of many Christians from those of the world. We are to be in the world, of course; how else are we to minister to those who need to Gospel and God’s love? But we are not to be of the world. Somewhere along the way, we have confused our mission on this earth. We are letting our flesh win.
Think of what the early church was like. The world around them saw Christians as being starkly different. Some called them cannibals, or baby-thieves, or anti-government, or heathens who didn’t worship any gods, or as just plain confusing for the love they demonstrated. They didn’t understand who would willingly die instead of simply bowing down to Caesar or an idol. They were so different that the world didn’t really know what to do with or make of them. But they came to know one thing for sure: Christians were followers of Christ.
I know more about the political beliefs, and sometimes even the sex-lives, of my friends and family. Those around are not shy to speak their opinions. In some ways, this is good. People should be open about what they believe, what their values are, and why they believe what they do. I am not saying we should not talk about these other things. Yet we are still missing our core. There will always be one thing or another to be outraged about, another crisis to plunder, another candidate to disappoint, another opinion to state. But do the people around us Christians know about their Creator who loves them? In fact, the Creator who loves them so much that He died for them? Do they know that they can lay their burdens at the foot of the cross? Do they know that they are forgiven? Do they know that hope and peace can be found?
I don’t think they do. I think they see us for the hypocrites that we are. We hide the light of Christ while professing to be one of His followers and live our lives like the rest of the world: unloving, ungodly, uncompassionate, hateful, blaspheming, slandering, unwelcoming. We display what the world does instead of what we were called to be. How can they know that there is a Savior who loves and cares for them if we do not love and care for them? Not shove the Bible down their throats or tell them that they are wrong, but to really, truly care for them. We don’t shine like stars in the darkness of this world. This is not to say we are perfect. Not by any means! But we are being sanctified and are called to live godly lives in holiness and reverence to God. Is Christ evident in our lives? Do we preach the Word in all seasons? Do we live like redeemed children of the Lord Almighty? He will reward each person according to what he has done. Are we going to be like one escaping through the flames? Or are we going to ask for forgiveness are start living our lives as if this Jesus thing really matters?
Blessings to you and yours,