Today as I drove by the little church in my neighborhood, I just had to read their sign and laugh. They change it up often, usually to something humorous and thought provoking. Today the sign read “Keep Christ in Christianity”. I thought it was going to read something like “Keep Christ in Christmas”, so I was surprised by the statement. Why would a church have to tell Christians to keep Christ in them?
I have thought for a very long time about what the definition of Christian is. Many people call themselves Christian, and each one has a different set of standards why which they determine there are Christian. Some people simply call themselves Christian because they believe in God. Some because they go to church regularly. Some people say they are Christian because they believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and have accepted His free gift of salvation.
If we look at the definition of Christian here is what see according to dictionary.com:
So as we can see, Christian is a term that is quite broad in it’s definition. It can refer to following Jesus Christ, or it can refer to being a decent and respectable human being. In the eyes of the world, this is how it is seen. There are other religions such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science and so on that claim to base their religion on some of the teachings of Jesus Christ. There are also other religions, such as Muslim, that include Jesus Christ as an authority figure in them. So technically by these definitions, we can call these religions Christian as well.
So what exactly does it mean to follow Christ? Does it simply mean you go to church and try to be a good person? That you read the Bible and conform to a certain standard that Christians certainly must adhere too? It seems to mean different things for different people. Even amongst Christians there is a battle over who is a true Christian and really saved. Some would say that if you live a life with certain sins, then you aren’t really a Christian. Others would say that all you need to do is love Jesus and you are Christian.
The problem with being called a Christian is you fall into many religious traps. Being Christian may well mean you believe in Jesus Christ, but it also means that you are putting yourself into a box, one that is there to define you and allow the world to make it’s judgement upon you. As the world sees it, Christians are good people who have good moral standards and help people, but are also very judgmental and condemning to anyone who isn’t Christian or Christian enough in their eyes. It is a double edged sword.
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.
1 Corinthians 3:18
I have seen Christians fight with each other on any topic that can possibly be debated upon. However, the Bible makes it clear we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this world; aka Satan. Satan has been using the words of God to turn us against God since the Garden of Eden. He tempted mankind into sin so easily, and even used scripture to try to turn Jesus Christ Himself. Satan absolutely loves religion, and loves to use it against God’s people.
The early church was very simple. It was people who loved Jesus and wanted to spread the Gospel to everyone they could. They gathered together to pray and study God’s word daily. They helped each other and took care of each other. No one was in need or want. They were doing life together in order to create unity and further the Gospel message. Yet as the movement grew, people brought in many ideas and practices from the world around them. The church began to adopt many customs from many religions and as the church grew, Christianity evolved.
Christianity is really a hybrid religion. It’s a mesh of Judiasm, paganism, and the teachings of Christ. People have added many things in because our human rituals and traditions are comforting to us. We have adopted and adapted Christianity to fit our needs as the centuries have gone on. It has become a religion and not a relationship. The root of Christianity is a movement of people who wanted desperately to follow Jesus Christ and experience the Living God. And that is what they did. They lived all their days out with a passionate zeal for Christ.
Somewhere along the line we have gotten religion and Jesus mixed up in one big bag together. We have started to believe that God is Christianity, church and the Bible, and therefore began replacing a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus with these beliefs. We began to believe that in order to be good, to know Jesus, to do the right thing, we had to go to church, read the Bible and do all the “Christian things”. We had to do service work and be involved in church and be on committees and in groups. We had to look to Christian leaders and pastors to help us and teach us. We have gotten very lost.
I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.
1 Corinthians 3:2-3
Jesus Christ is not a religion, nor is He only to be found in the Bible or church. Jesus Christ is everywhere and in everything. We were created through Him and for Him. We have His Holy Spirit living inside of us. We were created in heaven for His purpose. No matter what we do, what religion we affiliate with, or what church we go to, Jesus is with us. Always, even until the end of the age. Jesus does not care if we are Christian or not. He cares if we have a relationship with Him. A deep and intimate relationship. Outside of that, nothing else matters.
There is a lot of condemnation when it comes to Christianity. Christians are pitted against other Christians over trivial matters and the world hates us because of this hypocrisy. The world doesn’t hate the light, it loves it. The problem is, while we have been so busy filling ourselves up with religious practices and self righteousness, the devil and swooped in and deceived the whole world with his light. Lucifer is beautiful and bright and hides all of his destruction and death underneath it, so that all the world can see looks good and right. And he has crept in with his disguise and made Christianity look like the real evil of the world.
Christianity has become symbols, rituals, ideals and actions. It’s time to let go of all of it if we truly want to chase after Christ with the same desperate passion of our forefathers, the disciples. Jesus wants a relationship with you right now, exactly where you are. God speaks to you and you do not need an interpreter. The Living God, the one who created the heavens and the earth, is inside of you right now. God has done everything He can to make our part easier. If you are struggling with feeling condemned or hearing the voice of God, that’s OK. God can help you with that. Just keep seeking Him and trusting Him to lead the way.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
If we want to see the message of the Gospel progress in this world, we need to each one do our own individual parts. That means starting first with Christ as we let everything else in our lives fall away. Every person needs to come before the throne of God and seek His glorious presence and know Him personally. We were created for this. It is only through this relationship we are going to find freedom from oppression, healing, who God created us to be, and the call He has placed over our lives. There is no thing that can do that for us.
No matter what happens with the church or religion, God will always stand strong and prevail. If we want to focus on God, then we need to reevaluate our priorities and beliefs and bring them all before the throne room of God. Then we need to be willing to allow Him to come into our hearts and lives and show us where we have succumbed to idolatry and pageantry so that we can find His freedom. Jesus died for our freedom to be with Him all of the time. Let’s not waste our time looking for Him and realize He has been inside of us all along.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.