Musings on Christianity 39

Musings on Christianity 39

Why Can’t We Talk About Christianity

One glance at social media will offer you a lot of posts about religion. I don’t know about your pages, but I find that any posts about Christianity aren’t very kind.


People are more then willing to talk about God. People are more than willing to talk about how Christians are hateful. They post clever memes featuring depictions of Christ with phrases that usually don’t represent the actual moment depicted.

The occasional Bible verse is usually left alone, but defend the idea of salvation through Christ or state your belief in salvation through Christ alone, and the reactions turn heated or, at best, people politely tell you they’re not interested.


In fairness, I don’t see many posts explaining the doctrine of a lot of religions, but the vehemence with which people react to Christianity is only matched by the amount of false doctrine and unloving misrepresentation of Christ’s teaching.

There are those who are angry at the idea of Christianity. I’ve seen it. I’ve been told I was doomed because I have a Native American brother in law. I’ve been screamed at while trying to go to sporting events. I myself used to say things like, “I don’t believe in organized religion.”

After being screamed at for years by people claiming to be Christian, I simply assumed that’s what Christianity was. That treatment made me unwilling to listen.

This means the first reason people are unwilling to listen to Christ’s message is false teaching or false evangelism.

There are people who take the doctrine of salvation and twist it. They try to blend the Law and Christ when Christ is the fulfillment of the law. There are people who take the message of Christ’s forgiveness and want to forget that forgiveness is through Him, and those who don’t follow Him aren’t His.

All these mixed messages don’t do anything but confuse a very simple concept: Man sinned. The price of sin is death. The sacrifice of animals, introduced through Moses, could never cleanse man. This required a man to live a perfect life and then die a substitutionary death. This is the fundamental concept of salvation through Christ alone. Those who follow him, accepting Him as their savior, are redeemed. Those who follow Him turn from Sin for His sake.

That is Christianity. The term Christian was coined in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The very word means one who follows Christ.

I’m not, nor have I ever, told anyone what to do in regard to religion. That is, in fact, your choice. It’s the same choice Christ gave people. He gave it to the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-30).  When many left him, He even gave the apostles the chance to leave (John 6:67). The choice of whether or not you follow Christ yours. Christ, being God in the flesh, knew who would follow and who wouldn’t. He knew whom His Father chose and those His Father did not. I don’t have that advantage.

There are many who feel that belief in Christ alone as a way to Heaven is wrong. Again, that is their choice. The reason I need Christ is because I know I’m a sinner.  I know there isn’t anything I’m going to do to earn God’s favor. Therefore, I need someone to advocate for me. I need someone to pay the price I can’t pay.

However, the challenge is patiently inviting people to hear about who Christ is and what He’s done for mankind.

What confuses me is that people who are angry at Christianity often are scathing or judgmental because they think “all” Christians are scathing or judgmental. On a rational level, I can understand those who simply don’t want to hear the word. What I struggle understanding is why people would do the things they say no one should do. It gets even more baffling when people do the things they say no one should do in response to others doing those same things.

When we do evil, we are, in fact, being evil. One can not do evil for good. God can turn evil for his purpose, but He’s God. When we strike someone who strikes us, we’re guilty of the same offense.

So when when we judge others for judging, we are, in fact, being judgmental. This isn’t opinion. This is simple, rational truth.

This may cause people to be upset. They may defend or explain the reasons for their actions, but if a deed requires defense, there must be a reason it needs that defense.

What would happen if everyone in the world committed to the idea of treating others the way they would be treated? What would happen if this commitment wasn’t predicated on the belief that someone should treat them the way they want to be treated first.

The rule says treat others how you want to be treated. Even assuming most people want the same things, what two people want exactly the same treatment? So the rule can’t be, “treat others how you want to be treated, but wait until they treat you the way you want to be treated first.”

All this comes back to a question I’m struggling to answer. Why is it I’m not allowed to speak about my faith in Christ, but everyone who wants to bash Christians is free to do so? If I defend my faith, I’m evil. If I calmly, patiently offer to explain my faith, I’m, at best, turned down.

There is a double standard in the world, and it is sharply pointed at Christianity. It’s not the only double standard; it’s just the one I’m talking about today. It seems to me in some situations that a person can be anything except a Christian.

They argue this is because Christians are judgmental.

I want to cry out, “So you’re judging me because you believe my religion is judgmental?”

Now, this very book, posted originally on my blog, hasn’t come under any particular scrutiny. But what would happen if I post this same comment on something other than a blog visited by less than 40 people a day? 

The truth is no one has to listen. I’m not trying to make anyone. But it feels sometimes that speaking is in itself met with scorn and ridicule. At least once a day I see some sort of content that says why “Christians” are wrong or how “Christians” shouldn’t claim they have the only way to God.

The very nature of being Christian is to believe that Christ is the way (the truth and the life) to God (John 14:6).

If I’m wrong, I’m screwed, but that’s my problem. The irony is people claim they should be allowed to believe “whatever makes them happy.”

My reply is that they can. But not everyone goes to Heaven. Again, I believe Christ is the way to Heaven. If I’m right, good for me. If I’m wrong, bad for me. I don’t even know the number of other religions out there. I am, however, certain anyone who follows a religion does so because they truly believe that path is the right one. So how is Christianity all that different in that respect?

Another thing that doesn’t help is how politics warp religion. A guy can stand in front of a church or even in a church all day every day; it doesn’t actually make him a Christian. Christ himself proclaimed that there would be many who call on him on the last day, and he will tell them, “Depart from me, you workers of evil. I never knew you (Matthew 7:21-23).”

I don’t know the nature of anyone’s salvation. I’m not God. But looking at the fruit one bears is an indication. Even then, I leave it to the church to discipline its members (that’s a function of a church).  I leave to to the justice system to judge and punish crime. All I can really do is live like Christ as much as I can. He’ll judge me.

But when someone uses Christ or Christianity to tie it to a political agenda, it aligns Christ with a cause when Christ should be the cause. So people argue over this or that. Do some of the things people argue over (abortion) align with religious issues, yes. Do others? Probably not.

All of this debate makes passing the good news very hard. And Christians indeed need to do this. We’re commanded to go forth and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The gospels and all of Acts show how this is done.

So we need to look at those examples. I intend to follow those examples. Offer the good news. If people hear it, rejoice. If people reject it, shake off the dust from your shoes. The current landscape makes that difficult, but it’s one I feel we need to navigate with patient persistence. I don’t feel it should be done with aggression or accusation, but it should be done.

For our panel: So why is it so hard to talk about Christianity? How should one respond when they don’t want to hear the gospel? How do we correct those who aren’t speaking truth? Should we defend our beliefs when they’re challenged on social media? If so, how?

Musings on Christianity 19

Musings on Christianity 19

Does God Accept Me For Who I Am?

The short answer is no. It sounds brutal and cruel, but that’s just the way it is. Neither is it true to think that Christ doesn’t turn people away. We want to think that He wouldn’t. We want to believe that we can do whatever we want (no matter how sinful) and Christ will just be “cool with it.” But, I say again, that just isn’t true.

There are many who might be outraged by this fact. They will talk about how Christ loved us and Christ died for us. Indeed He did. However, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to Heaven. I want to put a pin on that last clause long enough to finish this first, and most important, thought.

The words of Christ Himself:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Readers, if you are under any sort of impression that the simple lip service of “Christ is king,” or “I believe in Christ” is in and of itself enough, you are under the incorrect belief. Those of who you think Christ “doesn’t turn anyone away,” needs to read that entire chapter of the Bible much more closely. 

Who then will he not turn away? Christ gave the answer in the above passage: “ … the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”

Sin is not in any way a part of God’s will.

Why then do we want to pretend otherwise? The answer is in the sin that you love. As a Christian, I want to seek out those sins I’m coveting. Those sins I love more than God. They exist. All people sin. The Christian seeks sanctification. The lost live in their sin.

“No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:6)

I’m of the opinion that we live in a world where we want to be able to sin and still get to Heaven. We want to pervert the love of Christ to mean, “He’ll let me do whatever I want and still take me.” 

It’s a very terrifying moment to realize that’s not true. It was for me. So the next thing people tend to do is try to minimize sin. They try to make some sins more terrible than others, and there are indeed sins God hates more than others, but that doesn’t make the other sins acceptable.

Our human rationalization is, “My sin isn’t all that bad, so I should be OK.”

Sin is bad. You’re not OK. If you live in sin, whatever it is, you don’t know Him, and you haven’t seen Him (see the above verse).

So, let’s go back up to that statement I mentioned above.

Assertion: Not everyone is going to Heaven. I think most would agree. I think if I talked to 1 million people, not one of them would claim everyone is going to Heaven.

But if you’re willing to acknowledge that not everyone is going, you have to then also acknowledge that Christ does indeed turn people away. Who then does He turn away? Refer back to the first passage I quoted in this chapter. Any who doesn’t do the will of the Father, will be turned away.

I’ve said several times that sin is sin. I even tend to not focus on any one sin. It’s just too volatile. Why? Because there are people who love their sin more than their brother (which is actually another sin). There are people who love their sin more than God (yet another sin).

So what happens is mortals rationalize. They say sin is sin from one side of their mouth, and then live in their sin as if that’s justification. Such actions then imply that one can do whatever he wants because sin is sin, but no rational person believes this.

To allow this mental debate to have a resting place, let’s pick a sin that no one fights for the right to do: murder. I’m not even talking about how Christ further defined murder in Matthew 5:21-48. For the sake of this mental experiment, I’m talking about the actual, physical murder of one person by another. I’m fairly confident no one is going to try and justify this act to me in any way. (Of course now some one is going to try some round about manner of justification such as the death penalty or self defense. Please just acknowledge then that all you’re doing is arguing for the sake of dissension and move along.)

I’ve never once seen a social media post or campaign topic that tries in any way to make it OK for people to kill, so I’m sticking with that to avoid more common, more politically acceptable sins.

  If saying, “I believe in Christ,” is enough to get into Heaven in and of itself, then do you believe that a man, a serial killer, could claim such and then continue to kill whomever the thrill of it called him to kill? Of course not! I’d venture to assert that even if a man had killed a hundred people and genuinely repented, falling down on his knees to beg Christ for forgiveness, paying for his crimes by turning himself in and accepting his punishment (You see, punishment by a court of law isn’t murder, those dissenters referenced above), never killing again, you would still want to condemn that man to Hell.

This is because killing is wrong. It is. It’s a sin, but so is the sin you’re holding on to. So too is the sin you want to keep and justify in doing so because that sin is more socially acceptable.

The truth of the matter is the angels rejoice over that murderer who repented and turned away from his sin. They do so more over him than the (self) righteous person who’s never killed a person, but committed several “lesser” sins, believing he is above the need to repent and turn away.  (This is a personal paraphrase of Luke 15:7.)

In my life, I’ve thought about people I wanted to go to Hell. They’d done things no one would argue are evil. I wanted wrath for that sinner and that sin. Then, I wanted grace and forgiveness for my own sin. Am I God that I should choose who goes to Heaven and who doesn’t? No, and neither are you.

Just as man can not condemn another man for their sin, neither can man declare another man righteous. We are not the way to Heaven; Christ is. (John 14:6) 

We only have the written word to guide us, but we need to pay attention to it. We can’t fall into the belief that lip service is enough. We can’t say we believe in Christ and continue to do all the things he said are wrong. We can’t do that any more than an abusive husband can claim to love his wife and continue to beat her. We can’t do that any more than an addict can claim to love her child and then lose him while drugged out of her mind. Even if those people mean what they say, and those statements have some immeasurable truth to them, they can’t argue they love their loved ones more than the sins they commit. No one in Heaven or Earth would believe them.

So then where is this leading to? I beg you to remember the two most important commandments given to us by Christ Himself:

“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27. See also Matthew 22:36-40 and Mark 12:28-31)

Therefore, anyone who puts any sin above God, whatever that sin is, is in violation of what Christ says are the most important two laws. We have to cast aside our sin for the God we claim to love just as we have to do for our neighbors.

This explicitly tells us we do in fact have to change for those we love. If we refuse to change, we are in fact, showing how little we love them. How contrary to popular philosophy and self-help books that statement is! 

But don’t we do that? Don’t we break up with the boyfriend or girlfriend who wont’ give up smoking or some other undesirable habit? Don’t we leave the relationship where the person is selfish? 

So if we on Earth know to turn away those who refuse to love us enough to turn from the wrong they do, so don’t we also realize Christ will do to us?

And now for those who feel this truth is a little on the “unloving” side. All the cases I used above were clearly things anyone would accept as reasonable. But what about that guy who never, ever, puts the lid to the toilet down. What about that wife who works a bit more than you’d like and doesn’t have time to help around the house or even just offer time for affection that you’d like?

Well, this is where forgiveness and Christ’s infinite love comes into play. We mortals have all sorts of deal breakers. Think about this. We have several (sometimes difficult to understand and/or explain) things we will immediately end a relationship over. We want to do that, but imagine a God who would be OK with anything? How does that even make sense?

However, where we would summarily end any relationship over any number of deal breakers, God, through Christ, is much better than all of us. You see, Christ is forgiving. For those who repent and turn away, there is no deal breaker. There’s no crime so great one can commit that Christ’s blood can’t wash away. This, is how glorious he is. And in that grace and mercy, Christ understands us. He advocates for us. (1 John 2:1)

That means that murderer is indeed forgiven, even if you don’t like it. That means anyone can be forgiven, if he but accepts Christ into his heart and repents of his sins. He did this for a thief on a cross who minutes before was ridiculing Christ. (Luke 23:43)

Sin is sin. There is not greater or lesser sin you could choose to live in and do continually that Christ, in his perfect, righteous glory as king of kings, would ever accept.

However; Sin is sin. There is no sin Christ’s blood can’t wash way. We may stumble, but Christ knows our hearts. He knows our desire to change and be more like Him. Those who accept Him and obey Him are among his elect. Those who strive to live as He lives and do as He does will be welcomed.

Consider this as you look at your life and the sins you carry. I’m not beyond this scrutiny. I look at the sin in my life and it horrifies me. Some sins fell away, but it seems like sin is some sort of hydra, popping up with two heads more each time I turn from one sin. The goal is the keep growing. The goal is to aspire and live to be more like Christ. Then His grace and mercy will be with you, and nothing will take you from God’s hands when you are His. (Romans 8:39)

For our panel: How does one turn from sin? What does it mean if I repent of a sin (whatever it is) and then succumb to it? Is backsliding a real thing? Does being a Christian mean being perfect?

Musings on Christianity 11

Musings on Christianity 11

How Should My Life Change Upon Salvation?

In a previous chapter, we discussed salvation, and I promised we’d talk about how a life should change later. Now that we’ve discussed Salvation and (to a degree) repentance, this seems like a good time to tackle this question.

When someone is saved, there should be an immediate change in life style. We are commanded to cast ourselves aside, pick up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24 and Luke 9:23).

But the amount of change one must make is probably dependent on how far one was from Christ and/or how steeped in sin he was. Each individual just needs to focus on the above=referenced verses. How much of what you were doing was about you, and how much of it was about Christ? 

When one becomes a Christian, the key aspect of this is the casting off of self. This is where that life change is visible. When one sees an unredeemed individual, the obvious traits include:

A self-centered lifestyle with no or very little (lip service) direction toward Christ. This is an individual who never spends time with Christ, never (or hardly ever) spends time in prayer, never serves (evangelizes, helps a brother or neighbor.  This becomes more complicated because a person can be looking like he’s doing those things, but if he’s not doing so to honor God, and isn’t directing the attention from himself (or herself) to God, then his actions may be beneficial to man, but they are not done to the glory of God. We aren’t called to judge a person’s motives, but a careful look at a person and his habits are an indicator. Anyone spending the bulk of his energy to pursue his own goals and agenda may not be redeemed.  When this person turns and begins instead to purse Godly things or begins to transition from looking for credit for himself and giving it to God, that is one visible life change.

A sinful life. You can proclaim Christ till he returns, but if you’re still living in sin, you’re not redeemed. Christ never knew you (Matthew 7:21-23). In another chapter, we’ll talk more closely about living in sin rather than being sanctified in Christ. Here, the point is a guy who’s observable actions are sinful isn’t redeemed. That’s not to say that everything he does is Biblically sinful, but he (or she) may have several sins they covet and hold onto rather than turn from.  Some redeemed take more time. All redeemed still sin, but are more prepared to accept discipline than one lost in his sin. These are those who say, “Oh, I know it’s wrong, but Christ will forgive me.” Please beware dear people, that if you you feel what you have is a blank check to sin without cost, you are lost (Romans 6:1-4). Where an unrepentant or unredeemed person who hasn’t truly sought Christ for forgiveness would simply go on about his sinful life, a repentant person would mourn his sin (Matthew 5:4), and strive to stop their life. They wouldn’t say what the unrepentant above would say. Instead, they would say, “I’m ashamed of this sin, and I need help turning away. Pray for me! Thank God, who grants me forgiveness through the son he sent to die for my sins.”

Contrary to the popular phrase, God does not at all love us for who we are. He loves us despite of who we are. But this righteous God, this just God, our loving God will not change for us. Rather, he demands we change for him.

Some of our sins fall away quickly. Other fade, like an echo of a scream. Whichever happens, it should be obvious that a person’s sin is falling away. No one is prefect, but a repentant person is seeking to decrease his sin. He’s certainly not sinning without regard or remorse. 

I could probably expand this list. I think one concerned with this should study Matthew 25:36-40 closely. Are you doing the things Christ asks you to do or not?

I’ve thought for a while about the question, “Well what about you?”  Then something occurred to me while reading “The Heart of Anger” by Lou Priolo. That question is in itself a manipulative question smelling of the same accusatory questions the Pharisees used to attempt to convict Christ.

That question comes from the heart of one who wants to compare himself to other men, which we’re not supposed to do (Galatians 6:4-6). To you I say, it isn’t about me. This isn’t a challenge to compare yourself to me, but rather a plea that you look to your own life and seek to change that you may be blessed.

Now, for those of you who say, “But I’m trying! How can I know that I’m truly being sanctified? What happened in your life?” You my brothers, are seeking fellowship. Where the above person seeks to inflict guilt, this second set of questions seeks to find guidance. This is important. They’re different hearts, and the heart is what matters.

To you I say that I still have sins I struggle with. My greatest conflict is with the very pride I warned you about earlier. I’m striving to check myself. I’m striving to weigh my anger righteously. And I angry on behalf of God or myself? Am I disappointed that I didn’t get my way, or trusting in God’s sovereignty? I pray for help in this. I have brothers and sisters in Christ whom I discuss this with and seek their rebuke to guide me. There are sins that I haven’t committed in a long time. I word that carefully because what I’m not trying to do is pridefully say that,  “I’ll never do that again.” We must remember, we’re mortal, and our flesh is susceptible to sin. If we do slip, we have an advocate who speaks for us (1 John 2:1). How we respond to that sin matters.

As for a life change. Look at this blog. This time I choose to spend on God could be given to any other pursuit. Instead, I choose to give God this time. It’s not always … easy? What I mean is at this moment, there’s  a football game on. I don’t really care who wins, but I love football.  I’m tempted to “take a break” and watch the game. Is it a sin to watch football? Not at all. However, to love football more than god is to make it an idol. Then, it becomes sinful. Instead, I discipline my mind and body, working to give this time to Christ, who gives us entertainment tat we may rejoice and praise him. 

So what I chose to do to address this is to 1) remind people that it’s not to accuse me or justify yourself by comparison and 2) offer one example each of lifestyle change not as evidence of my salvation. Only God can make that judgement anyway.  Instead, it is there to offer encouragement to others.   

For our panel: How can one cast off their sin? What does one do when he struggles to let himself go? Should we simply give up if we don’t change by a certain time? Do we as Christians have authority to declare someone redeemed or unredeemed based on our own observations? if not, why do we look at the fruit people bare?