“If belief gets us into Heaven regardless of behavior, or even despite our actions, then Satan will be in Heaven alongside the pastors and theologians and missionaries and saints. For Satan’s theology must surely be as informed as the most learned Christian scholars, for he knows God very well indeed. And the signposts Christ gave for recognizing his “true followers” seemed to have very little—in fact, next to nothing—to do with people’s beliefs. He seemed strongly concerned about people’s actions. Christians say, “A true disciple of Jesus believes that he is God and that he died for our sins.” But the Christ they claim to follow said that his true disciples take up their crosses and follow him, that they obey his teachings, that they “bear much fruit,” that they love one another, that they give up everything, even family, to follow him in the way he demands.
It seems that Jesus’ own definition is alien to most Christians, who are satisfied that by signing their name on some creed they are somehow mystically associated with Christ. It is why I can say with Mahatma Gandhi, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.” Perhaps if they were more like Christ I would like them, too.” – Pgs. 95-96, “Night of the Living Dead Christian” by Matt Mikalatos; Tyndale Publishing. (This book was reviewed yesterday. Leave a comment on yesterday’s post or today’s post to be put in for a drawing to win a certificate to cash in at your local book store for a free copy courtesy of Tyndale. Deadline to enter is Sunday, December 18).
My cross feels heavy and sweat beads on my brow as I carry it daily. Every day I live with fear and self-doubt, confidence, joy, and bear the heart-break of unmet expectations and people I love who don’t know Christ. It is my hope that my life honors Jesus in word and deed.
I became a Christian in 2002 alongside my husband. We dedicated our marriage to Jesus and one might think my belief in Christ alone is enough to make me a smiling, happy Christian zombie who feeds the homeless, prays like a maniac, and never has a cross word to say to anyone. Some expect that I should hide my sins and play the perfect zombie (i.e. perfect Christian).
The reality of Christian life is less than perfect. Yes, I am happy and my life is most definitely transformed. But I do not follow a check list. I do not feed the homeless because that is not my gift. I pray like a maniac, but sometimes I am not on my knees, but driving in my car, in the quiet of a cold morning, or with my forehead touching the black cover of my Bible as tears stream down my face while names of the unsaved float before my mind’s eye. I ache for those whose life merely imitates a Christian life, like pledging allegiance to something or following a hot trend. And when trouble comes their faith wanes, and one has to wonder if it was there in the first place.
When I read the words from A.W. Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God, “Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking,” that yearning burned like embers still white-hot from a fire that ran low after a long burning. It only takes a stirring of those embers to make that fire rage again. Being a Christian is like being married to God.
We are His bride. And how do we treat the love of our life? Do we slide the golden ring on our left hand, sport it proudly because of the size of the diamond to all our friends and relatives, only to slip it off when it’s not convenient to be married? In the dark of night, do we live another life, making decisions we know would displease and dishonor our Groom while rationalizing it away because everyone else is doing it? Is that what we call living the Christian life?
The cross I bear is heavy. It is at times a burden I don’t want to carry and yet more often than not in this journey I have found such fulfillment, love, and joy by following His path that I can’t imagine a life any other way. I gladly carry the burden. Like A.W. Tozer, I, “turn away with tears to hunt some lonely place and pray, ‘O God, show me thy glory.’” I want to, “taste, to touch with (my heart), to see with (my) inner eyes the wonder that is God.”
So, dear Jesus, stir the burning embers of my heart. I love you imperfectly and pray ardently for others to have a heart that burns long for You so that their end may result in conquering death, living life with You, and finding joy in this difficult world where anything good is evil and evil is good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Are you bearing your cross? Describe it.