I'm A Christian.. But I'm Not..
Alright. I've watched the video over and over. And I just can't wrap my head around this.
If you haven't seen the video, BuzzFeed posted probably the greatest example of my generation's view of Christianity that exists on the internet. With almost 10 million views on Facebook now, this video has 6 Christians attempting to breakdown the stereotypes that exist against Christianity. And while I see what they were trying to do, I think the message that they're sending is not what God desires from us at all.
Watch the video here
What these Christians were trying to do was break down a barrier that exists between Christians and the world. A lot of people view Christians as hypocritical, judgmental, hate filled people. And why wouldn't they? There are many people who claim to follow Christ that are not doing a great job of representing His name. That's unfortunately true. And those people are seen by many. People have been hurt, scammed, or lied to by those who claim to follow Jesus.
But also notice that Jesus isn't mentioned in the video at all. And there's no reference to the Bible either. In an attempt to separate Christians into two categories, hypocritical and genuine, I think the people in this video have missed some really important details and concepts when it comes to following Christ.
DISCLAIMER: This post is directed toward people who claim to follow Jesus. If you don't, I am not "bashing you" or "calling you out". I am simply writing this to dialogue with other people who are also pursuing Christ.
1. Love Is The Most Important Thing
If the world knows anything about God, it's that "God is love". We love to put it on bumper stickers, and sign birthday cards with it, and shout it from the rooftops that "God loves you". We teach children in Sunday school that Jesus loves them this they know, for the Bible tells them so.
And that statement is true. The love that God has for us is unimaginable and crazy. He has shown his love and mercy to us over and over. We know that he loves people. And the rest of the world knows this too.
The problem with the statement "God is love", is that for some people, that's where their knowledge of God ends. And for some people who "follow Jesus", that's where THEIR knowledge ends as well. It becomes easy for us to focus on this phrase because it doesn't seem intimidating to non-believers. It's so easy to focus on God's love for me because it makes me feel good. It feels good to know that I've messed up in life and I've hurt some people close to me and I've been in seasons where I've felt pretty terrible about myself as a person and know that God is still crazy in love with me.
But where is the line between the statements "God is love" and "Love is god"? I believe the people in this video come dangerously close to this line. In the video, the final line is "love is the most important thing".. And while it stems from biblical truth, it doesn't quite match up. Everyone will race to reference Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27, and John 13:34.. It's the "the greatest commandment is this: love your neighbor as yourself" verse.
Yes, loving others is an important part of our walk with Christ. But is that all that God desires from us? That we love each other? If you believe that loving others is the "core" of Christianity, you have completely missed it. At the very core of Christianity is a God who is perfect and holy. Who created you. And cares for you. But because we mess up and have a desire for things that are against what he asks of us (some people call that sin), we deserve to be punished. We deserve to suffer. To die. But because he cares for us so deeply, he sent his son. Who lived PERFECTLY. Who taught us how to live freely. How to treat each other, God, and ourselves. And then he took our punishment for us. In our place. So that we could continue to live freely in the forgiveness he's offered us. Following Him and becoming more like him.
God's desire for our lives is not that we love each other. It is that we would be made more like Jesus through sanctification. Through trials. Through life. That we would be molded and guided by His Spirit to follow Jesus in every area of our lives. And as we follow Jesus and become more like him, loving each other will come with that. But loving each other is not the only thing we can do, or are called to do, to become more like Jesus.
THIS IS THE CORE OF CHRISTIANITY: That we lay down our own desires and put our focus and motivation on being like Christ in every area of our lives.
I think this movement of "love each other and that's all that matters" started with a pure direction, but has quickly moved to idolizing LOVE. Love did not die on a cross for me. Love didn't create me and care for me. Love is not my GOD. I don't serve LOVE. I serve because I love. Because I love God and because I love people.
As followers of Christ, we ARE called to act out of love in every situation to every person regardless of their background, race, beliefs, attitude toward you, or lifestyle. That much is true. Jesus lived that and taught that. However, Jesus did not die so that I could drink coffee and socialize in a civil way with someone that doesn't share the same beliefs as I do. Jesus died so that I could be forgiven, live freely, and become more like Him.
2. I Can Live How I Want, And God Will Still Love Me
Let me just make this clear up front. Nothing that you do will cause God to love you any less. Furthermore, if you are not a believer and you are not following Jesus, I'm not expecting you to live any certain way or conform to any biblical standards. If you are, or you at least claim to be following Jesus, this is gonna get rough.
I am part of a selfish generation. There's a feeling of entitlement that I've noticed in many of my friends and people my age. That we deserve respect and that we have life figured out. That we can say and do what we want, regardless of how it may impact those around us because this is our life. "We can live how we want... Say what we want.. Do what we want" (Miley Cyrus, anyone?)
And from the world's perspective, that is totally normal. It's normal for 20 year olds to be selfish and unaware of those around them. They're just trying to figure life out. Get out of their way and let them explore and make their mistakes and experience things.
But from a Christ follower's perspective, there's something wrong with that belief. If you claim to follow Christ and believe in His death and resurrection, then you are also saying that you believe there are consequences for sin. Earthly and eternal consequences. Now this isn't the part of Christ that we put on billboards and lure people into church with because saying he loves us is so much more appealing. But the truth is that Christ gave us (those who follow him) a standard live by.
Let me make clear again, if you do not intend to follow Jesus in your life then I am in no way pressuring you to live by these standards. But if you are following Christ, while completely ignoring biblical truth and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life, you need to check yourself.
We make excuses for the sin in our lives and when people point it out we fight back with "only God can judge me". The problem with that statement is that we often forget that he WILL. In my own friendships, I've noticed a divide between friends I can be transparent and honest with about my sin, and those that I can't. Friends that will call me out when I'm doing something that I know is against the Word, and friends that will encourage me and say "No worries, dude. God still loves you. That's all that matters. Keep doing you"
We've embraced this anti-accountability social dynamic, where Christians are too afraid to call out other Christians for their sin. We talk about how we're all on a personal journey and our sin is between us and God. But James writes in James 5:16 that we should confess our sins to each and pray together.. I'm worried that we, as Christians, have focused so much on the fact that everyone is on their own "personal journey".. that we forget there are only two possible destinations.
Now there is a difference between calling out a Christian friend on their sin, and calling out a random stranger. Too many Facebook posts are calling people out in public and exposing other people's sins. But that's not what Scripture tells us to do. I'm not going to interfere on a personal level with someone I don't know, or someone who doesn't have a relationship with Christ. But if I know that one of my friends is involved in sin, I'm going to talk to him about it.
The truth is that sin has consequence. Romans 6:23 says the "..wages of sin is death..". And if we claim to be following Christ, we have to understand that our choices hold weight to them. That our actions are subject to judgment. God's desire is for us to be in relationship with him. To be made more like Him. Not to continue on a hopeless path of destruction. Because the truth is that our lives are not a series of right and wrong decisions.. it's a series of rights and lefts. Our actions either bring us closer to Christ, or pull us farther from Him.
If you want to live how you want, that's fine. If you want to follow Jesus, he calls us to lay down our own desires, goals, motivations, and direction.. and follow Him.
I'm a Christian, but I'm not settling for a cheap version of who Christ is.