Ok, So before you start calling me a heretic or begin questioning my beliefs let me explain…
I had a conversation today with a old friend regarding my last year and reconnecting with life. My friend is not a believer and I love him dearly. Essentially, he like many, question the proof of God but like the idea of a god or gods. He questions the totality of Grace through Christ but rather understands and accepts the concept of Karma. He struggles with the infallible truths of the Bible but looks at it as well written stories full of life principles. My friend is well read, has lived around the world and experience most of the top worlds religions first hand through their followers. So there’s his back story.
Essentially the conversation landed where he has such a hard time with Christians due to their lack of lifestyle evidences that our God is real. Statments such as “If Christians truly believed what they preached there would be no more wars, poverty, genocides or starvation and the world would be a better place.”
As I sat there and started walking through my experiences, my convictions and my own theologies with Him I said this. “Listen, we aren’t perfect, no one is. No one was. Except Christ who came to earth, being fully man and fully God, perfect and blameless and paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for our sins and then rose from the dead to conquer death once and for all. This redeems and sanctifies us to God.”
I thought to myself, “Way to go man! Preach that Gospel 101! This guy’s going to know Jesus!”
Then he came back so quick and said, “Oh you Christians and your cross… Stop clinging to the cross and start doing something. I’ll believe your Jesus when I see his followers act like him.”
I didn’t know what to say. It was like I was just slapped in the face.
Truth is, I felt convicted. I felt shut down. I thought that my answer would have had a completely different outcome. I thought this guy was going to join me 3 pew in on the left this sunday morning. Or at very best, agree to disagree.
Nope. I was wrong. Dead wrong.
I left that conversation with more to chew on. I began to pray and checking out my own life. As I thought about what he said, I felt this new desire well up within me to pursue and dig into the idea that for so long us Christians have been getting away with so much because frankly we know that the cross will always be there to come back to. We stop worrying about how our words, actions and life choices effect not only those around us but the worlds in which we live.
I read this afternoon a few passages as I was working through this. I started reading John 15, which is one of my all time favorite chapters in the bible. John lays it out.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
He goes on in verse 14…
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
It hit me once again, like a shot right between the eyes. Grace wasn’t given to us so that we can barely make it in this life. We as believers are not called to grovel and beg and plea Christ for forgiveness so that one day, hopefully, we can barely crawl into heaven. We no longer have to beat ourselves up at the foot of the cross every time we sin. Why? Because God no longer see us as sinners, but Saints!
My friend David put it this way the other week, “After being soaked in the blood, referring to myself as anything less than perfect is diminishing Jesus, Himself. I dare not. The doubt ends. Fear & insecurity is dead.” I need to daily remind myself of the various verses in the New Testament that calls us as redeemed followers of Christ that our old sinful nature is put to death and that our new nature is pure in the sight of God. This is who I am. This is the identity I am to live out of. This is the identity of Christ.
I know this last year changed so much. My life, my love, my worship and my theology has drastically been affected. What I do know is that God wants disciples, not servants – He wants friends, not slaves – passion, not apathy. There is a reason why in Romans 8 he calls believers co-heirs with Christ and children of God and says that we are to refer to him as Abba Father, which translates “Daddy God”. I know my “Daddy” does not ever want His kid to “barely make ends meet”. I know my Father’s heart is not towards guilt, fear or shame but towards love, hope and joy. And knowing the Fathers heart only deepens when we press into these truths.
Only when this is our foundation can we begin to walk truly like Christ. To only do what the Father is doing and only say what the Father is saying.
This is the answer for my friend. This I believe is the answer that will change everything.