Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Christians - Real Ones

VIEWPOINT



The world is changing the definition of what it means to be a good Christian. The change is so subtle that most don't even see it happening. When you finally notice, the change will scare you because it is not a good change.

FACT



Being Christian means being like Christ.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



Modern "Christianity" is boring - and dangerous.

Be nice. Love everyone. Don't worry. Be happy. Share. Don't judge. Give 'til it hurts. Accept the bad with the good - and smile! Never get angry. Keep peace in your soul. Aaaarrrgggghhhh! Sounds like a rerun of the 60's. Enough!

What do you think a Christian is?

How should they act? How should they treat others? What groups should they join? Which should they avoid? Have you ever thought about it? The paragraph above is correct, as far as it goes. However, there is something in there that few notice. None of those things in that list are to be done at the expense of the truth or at the cost of someone's salvation.

What do I mean by that? On another page on this site (Christian Nice Guy), we show examples from a 2005 book by Paul Coughlin called No More Christian Nice Guy in which Jesus was saying things that would shock the average congregation:

What do you think would happen if Jesus were to appear at your church next Sunday and say to people what he says in the Bible?

"Hypocrites!"

"White-washed tombs!"

"Fools!"

"Dull."

And "a brood of vipers fit for hell!"

"Given how nice the church expects Christian men to be, I think we'd rush the pulpit and wrest the microphone from his hand. "Tsk, tsk, tsk," we'd mutter scornfully. We'd wag our fingers, reminding him of the supreme importance placed on manners and appearances in this holy place. Some women, reaching for bars of soap to wash out his mouth, would recite our unofficial church motto: 'If you don't have anything nice to say, Jesus, don't say it at all.' "He really should be ashamed of himself."

Let's approach this discussion in a little different manner. Normally, when defining a Christian, people will list all the things that they hear while sitting in the pews or things they read in the latest syrupy book from the current prosperity author-of-the-day. I remember some times in the Bible when Jesus did not follow that list of nicey-nice actions. But it would be pretty hard to think of Him as not Christian-like.

Do we even have a list to follow?

Let's see if we can find a definition of what society seems to expect from Christians and see how the original Christian fits into that mold.

Where do we start?

To begin a project like this, we need to form a list of acceptable social Christian attributes. Where do you go for something like that? We have some of these in our heads, we see and hear some when we are in church, at home interacting with our parents, others we discover when someone expresses shock over how a "Christian" person acted in some situation. Think about it. Where did you get your idea of how a Christian should act?

Rather than go out and buy a bunch of books with which to compile our list, let's start with the great social gathering place - the internet. It may not be the best place, but then again, it might. Much of what we are exposed to comes from the internet, movies and the television - if you still watch that thing very much.

So many to choose from

A quick search for "Christian attributes" took a whopping 0.57 seconds and produced about 7,090,000 results. We won't list them all here, which means we have to pick the ones we think are the most appropriate. Try the search yourself and make your own list if this one looks wrong. That's our first clue about how society affects the modern perception of Christianity - we pick what we think applies from what others think applies. Notice that we did not go to just one single place where we "know" the list has been narrowed to the "known important" stuff - if there even is such a place. Excluding the ones labeled as ads, here are the first sites from this search:

Open Bible
Grace Online Library
Wikipedia
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Solitary Road
Crosswalk
King James Bible Online
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

These are all Christian?

On a personal note, without even visiting all the sites to see what they say on our topic, there is a temptation to eliminate some of them for being non-Christian and others for being too "gooey Christian". That alone speaks volumes about what we are trying to do. But, let's follow through and see what we find.

A good start

Starting with Open Bible, we get a list of 100 selected verses from the Bible, not all of which are even on target for describing Christian attributes. They even list "don't burn your children" (Deuteronomy 18:10), which seems to be good Christian advice to parents, if not exactly advice that most of us need (hover mouse over box to see the first 10 on list):



These verses describe Christians as those who do things that many people think that they already do. However, if you go through the verses listed here, you find some characteristic that almost no modern Christians follow. Oh, they all claim to follow them, but compare the verses to their actions:

1 Peter 3:2 - "when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."

Purity and reverence? They defile themselves with things God said not to eat and have no reverence for the only day He made Holy. By their own action, they are neither pure nor reverent.

1 Peter 3:15 - "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

Based on the previous analysis, if they are not reverent, but still call Christ Lord, how does that fit with Luke 6:46
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

? What reason do they give to Him for their disobedience?

1 John 5:3 - "In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,"

In today's permissive society, almost no modern "Christians" keep all ten of the commandments - and especially not the fourth one.

1 Peter 3:8-12 - 8Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For,

"Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
11They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."


Like-minded? We have one Bible, and literally thousands of different denominations that believe they are the only ones who are saved. Christ has one chruch - the one that follows Him and does what He says. All others are kidding themselves.

Next, on the "good" vs "bad" scale, be "good" (another shotgun approach), Grace Online Library gives us 49 godly character qualities:



Here, Jesus fairly ripped into the Pharisees for hipocrisy and leading others astray. Hardly a deferential or passive response to the unGodly actions of someone who did not follow the instructions of The Father.

Today's Christianity seems to be leaning too far toward the idea that each church has it's own way of following God, so the rest of us must respect it. The trouble with that is that so few of them actually follow God's guidelines that our real job should be to show them where they stray from the path, like Jesus did in Matthew 23.

We seem to be getting way off base here even while following the simple task of defining a Christian. Let's sum up what we are seeing and try to identify any progress.

OK, what does society expect a Christian to be?

1. Readers and followers of the Bible - all the sites agree
2. Be one "church" in Christ by emulating Jesus - all the sites agree
3. Obey the words and commands of God - all the sites agree

Summarizing this list into a single thought, we should see that all the churches that agree on this list should be copies or mirror images of each other. Right? Then why are there so many different churches, with some large disagreements in fundamentals, that supposedly all have the same goals of knowing the Bible, emulating Jesus, and obeying God?

In fact, one of the original goals of this "project" was to see how the original Christian fit the expectations of society. In just the few examples above, there seems to be a discrepancy between how most of today's churches see the modern Christian and the way Jesus showed us how to act toward others who claim to be His followers. When one is clearly seeking God's will, He was helpful to their needs. When someone did not seek the will of God, He dressed them down publicly. Do we do that or do we respect the wishes of other who believe differently?

As Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 5:12:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

We are to judge those who claim to belong to Jesus. Not for the final disposition of a soul, but to help to guide them to the correct path (1 Peter 3:15
15But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

). And we are to do this with gentleness and respect for those truly seeking, not those who are blatantly disobedient.

The modern Christian "mold" is not from the Bible.

Just from these few instances, we can see that Jesus did not fit the commonly defined mold of the modern Christian. While we can certainly find more instances, it seems that the whole "Christian Nice Guy" (click to blue link or see Main menu under Christianity for the discussion page) attitude has hijacked our ability to think for ourselves. We can't think or act outside the box without offending the traditions of the church regarding "how to act like a Christian".

If Jesus wouldn't fall into our cookie-cutter mold because the truth was more important to Him than compliance, what does that tell us? The Bible does teel us how to act, it just does so in a manner that is based on truth and love. That is real love, not the tolerant, eveyone's-opinion-matters, don't hurt feelings stuff you hear in today's sermons. For those of you who are trying to get people to open their eyes and see what He is really telling us, hang in there. For the rest of you, remember that the path is narrow and is down to earth. Maybe someday people will pull their collective heads out of the clouds and get that message.

What would a "real" Christian do?

Here is a thought for you. The next time you read the Bible, see if you can tell the difference between the concept of being a "nice guy" and the real actions of the apostles in making sure that the true message gets out first. This should happen while sharing the real meaning of God's grace. You will find that these men did not usually cave on the principles of truth in order to be accepted by their culture. The few times they did, they were chastised by those who saw what they were doing. (see Gal 2:11-13
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

)

Of course, even Paul messed up with regard to caving to the demands of the "church". He gave a reason, but it came very close to compromising his principles in order to accomplish his mission. (see Acts 16:1-5
1 Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

) The reason he gave was that for Timothy to be accepted as a fellow teacher for Christ to the Jews, he must be circumcised because he was half Jewish - the "important" half, since his mother was Jewish. Otherwise, the Jews would not listen to him. Yet, Paul was one who denied that the Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved. Kind of a predicament, huh?

The truth is out there, let's stand our ground and spread it around - even if it's not popular.

In most respects, Paul, though he was a law-abiding
Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar." (Acts 25:8)

Jew to the extreme, fought the "church" positions when they conflicted with the truth and commands of God. This is our great commission - to spread the Christian gospel, the love and the truth - as it is given to us in the word instead of the mush we hear from the pulpits today. To soften the message in order to prevent making waves is dangerous, and that message is weakened to the point where everyone's opinions and feelings matter more than the truth.





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