The culture of finger-pointing and catastrophizing others' words has grown…
When Christians don’t act like Christians, the world takes notice.
When Christians do act like Christians, the world can see God’s miracles.
But what does it mean to act like a Christian? First, let’s look at three examples of what it is not.
Below are three stark bits of news about Christians not being very Christlike.
[If you’d rather jump straight to the “9 Ways” list, scroll further down. There’s a nice printable chart.]
1 – Would Jesus Wear These?
A recently-created Instagram account calls out megachurch pastors for wearing exorbitantly-priced designer sneakers (@PreachersNSneakers) by posting photos taken from their social media accounts or public appearances. (Full article by Sam Kim)
One pastor can be seen wearing $6,000 Adidas Yeezys and $2,500 “hypebeast grailed” sneakers.
How does a pastor end up wearing shoes that exceed the annual amount an average American contributes to their retirement?
This next one is not as shocking but I’m sure it will sound familiar.
2 – CRUEL Christians on Twitter
Ed Stetzer, the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, called out the following on Twitter recently, which practically brought me to my feet, cheering:
I’m struck by the cruelty of some Christians on social media this week, all being cruel because they think someone else said something cruel, so they can be cruel, then people respond to that, etc. It is not right. It does not honor the Lord. End the cycle. Jesus shows a better way.
Dr. Stetzer has written a wonderful book on this topic, by the way, titled Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best When the World Is At Its Worst. (Read more here.)
3 – A Prominent Christian Admits: “I didn’t Have Any Affection for . . . God”
Now here’s another shocker. This is deeper and more personal.
I have enormous respect for this high-profile Christian, demonstrating such courage by putting himself out there like this, in his own words.
Mark Galli, a former managing editor of a prominent Christian publication, Christianity Today, wrote the following in the first article in a series on the condition of evangelism in America:
“It may have been as the result of hearing a sermon or perhaps reading a book. But I distinctly remember thinking that my Christian life was sorely lacking in the love of God. I didn’t have any affection for or yearning to know and love God. I wasn’t angry with him. I didn’t doubt his existence. I wasn’t wrestling with the problem of evil. I was being a faithful Christian as best I knew how. But it occurred to me that I didn’t feel any love for God.
“I also realized that even though I prayed and read Scripture regularly, not much in my life would be different if I didn’t pray and read my Bible. That is, I was living as a practical atheist, meaning my personal relationship with God did not really affect much inside me. I was at the time managing editor of Christianity Today, so naturally, I edited and wrote a lot of things that were Christian to the core.”
Again, I deeply admire this man’s courage.
I remember feeling the same thing many years ago: I came to a troubling “aha moment” that I didn’t really love God. I didn’t know Him. I couldn’t even say for sure that I believed in Him.
I didn’t NOT love Him. I didn’t NOT believe in Him. I just didn’t truly believe or love the Lord. I didn’t follow even that most basic commandment. Then how on earth could I call myself a disciple of Jesus?
What’s to be Done?
I could list a lot more examples of high-profile individuals who have said and done things that make you wonder.
Is there a solution? There’s definitely ONE solution, captured in these famous words:
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. . . If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.” – Michael Jackson (lyrics by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett).
Some years ago, I knew I needed to make a change and that change had to focus on Jesus. But how?
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23, NLT)
To do this—and truly begin living in a Christian manner—we need to better understand the meaning of the word translated as “believe” in the English Bible.
The Greek word translated in our Bible as “believe” actually refers to a combination of “believe, trust and obey.” Believing is a far more action-oriented, committed state of the heart than we may realize.
The “9 Ways” Self-Assessment
Drawing on the teachings and example of Jesus, I have developed a simple, one-page tool that can help all of us become better followers of Jesus, myself included. This tool can stimulate humble reflection and insights from the Holy Spirit.
DISCLAIMER: The gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be simplified to a checklist. However, lists can help us focus on key concepts and actions in a simple, memorable way. In no way is this tool meant to replace scripture or to be the “silver bullet” that defines all aspects of discipleship. It can, however, motivate progress.
Option 1: Click on the image below to launch the free PDF and share it freely. This tool contrasts 9 ways we can follow Jesus with “fence-sitting” and worldly views that are common today. To print it, you must have legal size paper (8.5 x 14).
Option 2: Here are the 9 ways that ensure a solid start down the path of discipleship. These are based on the left column of the chart in the PDF above.
- Believe in and love Jesus. If you are following Jesus, you believe in and love Him above all others. You believe He is your Creator, Savior, and Master. (Mark 12:30; John 20:31)
- God is part of your daily life. If you are following Jesus, you trust Him, praise Him, and thank Him throughout the day. You study His words. (Philippians 4:6)
- Live with honesty and integrity. If you are following Jesus, you are consistently honest with your family, coworkers, and strangers alike. You know you are accountable to God and that He knows your thoughts and intentions. You avoid hypocrisy in any form. (Colossians 3:9)
- Be patient with others and make peace. If you are following Jesus, you are not an instigator of contention. You are patient when treated unfairly. You strive to make peace and be meek (not weak) in the face of hostility. (Matthew 5:5)
- Be morally clean. If you are following Jesus, you believe that sexual purity matters. You keep sexual activity within marriage. You monitor your thoughts and strive to be pure and chaste. (Matthew 5:28)
- Give of your unique talents, time, and money. If you are following Jesus, you know all of your gifts come from Him and you are learning to share freely and willingly. (1 Peter 4:10; 1 John 5:3)
- Be consistently kind. If you are following Jesus, you are kind and compassionate toward family members, friends, and strangers. More and more, the kindness of Jesus reflects from your face.
- Obey God’s word, relying on His grace. If you are following Jesus, you strive to obey the words of Christ and His apostles, as taught in the Bible. You understand that you are spiritually lost without the grace of Christ and that you cannot save yourself through your own efforts. You are born again and have a new heart, which has changed your desires from obeying your own will to doing God’s will. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5)
- Share your faith. If you are following Jesus, you proactively and respectfully share your feelings and witness of the goodness and power of Jesus Christ in your life and in the lives of anyone who will embrace Him. (1 Peter 3:15)
May you feel the Spirit of God whisper to your soul, inspiring humility and greater discipleship. (It does for me.)
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