This month, I have some truth in love that the Holy Spirit wanted me to deliver to those who self-identify as Christians. During the month of February, I was studying the Word of God intensely as I ministered to people regarding relationships, the concept of love languages, effective time management, and worship. In this time of study, I realized I wanted to do more for God than just remind people who believe like I believe how good God is.
God asked me: “What are you doing to expand my Kingdom?” I was reminded of Jesus and how His most miraculous works were not done among those who continued to follow the Jewish laws nor done in the synagogues (churches of the time). Without compromising who He was, Jesus went to the places where broken, sinful people were, not to judge them, but to love them. Do you want to be just a Christian by name, or do you want to be a disciple of Christ?
In this world, throughout time, Christianity has become synonymous with hypocrisy. Christians, through the manipulation of God’s Word, have caused a lot of hurt in the world. This in turn has caused widespread distrust of Christians among different communities.
For example, twisting of the Bible was used to help keep African Americans enslaved for 246 years in the United States. In addition, different denominations have had corrupt individuals rise to prominence in the Church community only to have their downfall showcased for the world to see. These types of downfalls have also caused many believers to lose trust in the Word of God.
This negative view on Christianity brings with it an uncertainty that future generations will become followers of Christ. Right now, on average, the Christian Church is having a harder time connecting to millennials than any previous age group. So, what does that say about their ability to one day reach the children of millennials?
Due to being unchurched during my upbringing, I understand the world’s view because I myself had viewed people in the Church as putting on a fashion show, gossiping, and limiting the ability of someone to freely ask questions. So, the question becomes: “How do we as believers combat this negative stereotype?”
Never doubt that God is on the move attempting to lead the Church in the direction it should go, but because of the carnal nature of man, it is slow to move, if it moves at all. Overall, the Christian Church is a dying organism because it has gotten so used to reproducing internally within itself – isolating itself from the world at large.
Though the Church itself has been going through a transformational process, as noted by the different styles of preaching (from hellfire and brimstone preaching to prosperity preaching and beyond), we as individual believers must realize it is our responsibility to understand that issues within the Church, like legalism and unsound doctrine, will continue to weaken the Church’s ability to reach the lost. It is time to move away from these things.
Jesus has called us to be the Good News to the world, the same world we are instructed not to conform to. But we are so afraid to enter the world for fear that it will influence us that we are shrinking back from being the salt and light Jesus tells us we are. Only the counterfeit should be concerned about entering the world. Those who truly follow Jesus know it is our mission and commandment to change the world.
Religion has preconditioned us to believe the world is not worth saving and we need to keep it at arm’s length. So often, once we have sunk into the religious model, we suppress the “us” that was in the world. Relationship says the only difference between “us” and “the world” is that we were introduced to Jesus. We cannot be afraid to walk into the world and share our testimony.
I don’t have a problem proclaiming I am a believer or that I am an aspiring disciple of Christ, but I do get a little frustrated on how to describe being a Christian. I love Jesus! He is the High Priest who intercedes on our behalf with the Father. Jesus gave His life so that our sins would no longer keep us in bondage. With His sacrifice on Calvary, He was able to provide us a direct relationship with God.
The Church is the bride of Christ and He is coming back for her. But as it stands, what type of bride will He be coming back to? Right now, the bride has arms that won’t work with her legs and ears that won’t work with her eyes. Each part is battling for dominance. Different denominations are battling over doctrine and scriptural interpretation? Mega churches, with beautiful buildings, are filled with hollow-filled people inside. Services now contain L.E.D screens, light shows, and smoke machines. Anyone with a camera can now do internet evangelism.
On the topic of women preaching and teaching in the Church, we find there are those in the faith that continue to take Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians and 2 Timothy and use them in such a way that women have no voice in ministry. Yet in Paul’s writings, he commends many women in several roles in ministry, including those proclaiming the gospel.
Don’t misunderstand me, we’ve gotten somethings right; however, it seems we have also gotten somethings wrong.
As Christians, we understand that our salvation comes through Jesus’ actions on Calvary. Not discrediting a drop of blood that was shed on the Cross, though this is where the story of our salvation begins, this is also where for most Christians the story ends. We are happy to proclaim Jesus as being our Savior who died for our sins, but He is also our Lord. Yet, without ongoing, inner transformation and obedience to His word, we really can’t claim Him as Lord of our lives.
Being a believer is believing that God created each one of us for a specific purpose to aid in kingdom advancement. Being a Christian is for when people are watching on Sunday as you sit in church. Being a believer and disciple is when you walk as Christ did with your own cross. Being a believer is when you use your testimony of being a sinner to inspire another sinner that there is nothing too shameful for Jesus to handle. Being a Christian is keeping quiet about the trials and seasons of testing that you have gone through.
To walk as disciples and win souls for Christ means we cannot be actors. We’ve got to stop proclaiming we are so “blessed and highly favored” and pretending like nothing bad ever happens. New, younger generations have been given a level of discernment that is out of this world. They can spot counterfeit religion in a moment, and unlike generations before them, they are locked and loaded with information from Google and questions that they aren’t afraid to ask. As believers we must be willing to share are testimonies of despair and hopelessness and how God brought us through them. The world needs to know it is not too far gone for the Father to love them.
We can continue to talk about what needs to change, but we must also realize this is a time of action and application. We are doing an injustice to Jesus by not going out into the world and sharing the gospel the way He intended. And when we do go out, we must be aware of the negative image of Christianity and check to see if our representation of what it means to walk out our beliefs is a good representation of Christ, especially when speaking to people who know of Christianity, but aren’t sold on it.
I hear a lot about our Christian-minded judgment. We try to disguise it as rejecting the ways of the world, but we are actually breeding condemnation. Being a believer is not about being perfect, but rather the progression of the fruits you bare. And what of our hypocritical nature? If we are still walking around with hate, anger, and fear, then how are we showing the world the benefits of being a Christian. Remember, the tongue has the power to speak life and death (Proverbs 18:21). How much death comes out of your mouth daily?
In his final days, Jesus talked about the Great Commission -to go out into the world and make disciples. Love thy neighbor doesn’t mean to just love other believers, but to love all people. It’s a no brainer to love those we are familiar with; however, it takes the Holy Spirit and the heart of Jesus to love those who do not believe how we believe. I leave you with this prophetic word that I continue to recite in different settings to focus and ground me as a disciple:
Jesus, use my hands. Lord, guide my feet. Holy Spirit, I am your vessel for victory.
Written by Katrina Hodges