That’s Not Christianity

March 6, 2018 — Leave A Comment

Jesus said, “Come, follow Me.” ~ Mark 1:17

It’s no wonder the road that leads to life is so narrow, you know. It’s just so terribly difficult to stay on it. Not only does it require faith, which is hard enough in itself to hold strong in your heart 24-7, but it also requires a host of other internal qualities that take years to develop properly ~ things like Love, and Hope, and Courage, and Wisdom, and Patience and the like. And that’s not to mention the few external practices that are also essential to it, like prayer and forgiveness, things at which we always feel a bit like novices no matter how long we’ve been practicing them.

So few of us Christians ever really commit ourselves to the study of real Christlikeness. We pick a quality of his here or there, like kindness or integrity, and we say yes I’d like to have more of that, so we work on it for a bit and make ourselves satisfied with that. But the rest of our lives may look nothing like Jesus at all.

It’s really no wonder, then, how when people say “I’m a Christian,” nobody really knows what they mean. Within the Faith, we add qualifiers to help us narrow it down, like he’s a cultural Christian, or she’s a nominal Christian, or they’re devoted Christians, but it’s all a bit vague and undefined.

It’s not because the Faith itself is unclear. Christianity as a Faith & Practice is immensely clear cut:

A Christian is someone who has fully committed their entire life to following the Living Christ and incarnating Him in everything they do.

It’s a beautiful way to spend a life. But it’s also very costly. In fact, it costs you everything.

But that’s too hard, too deep a price to pay, so we’ve busied ourselves redefining Christianity to make it more palatable to our egos, and in the process have effectively muddied the waters so nobody knows what it is anymore.

We say Christianity is a list of beliefs, for example. If I believe these five things, then I am a Christian…which is not only ridiculous but reduces what is meant to be a living, transformative, supernatural relationship to an anemic theological checklist that’s only true function is to assure you of your own “rightness” and everyone else’s damnation.

Or we say Christianity is a political ideology, whether it’s a radical devotion to social justice, or a passionate commitment to save the unborn, or some other political or social banner. We pick some flagship idea or cause and commit ourselves fully to it, then use it to prove to ourselves that we are Christian. The insanity of this perversion of true Christianity cannot be overstated. For through this ludicrously misguided notion of Christianity, we justify hatred and abuse and rejection of entire swaths of humanity whom Jesus Himself loves and for whom He died. We literally embody the very antithesis of the founder and perfector of our Faith, and call it Christianity. This is the apex of self-deception.

Or, on the more mundane levels of everyday life, we simply reduce Christianity to a set of weekly rituals. We attend church on the weekend. We ask God for things. We try to be nice people. We go on a service project once every year or two. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things in themselves, but there’s often nothing supernatural in them either. Most who do these things don’t find them particularly transformative. They amount to little more than the dues we pay to be in the club, to belong, to call ourselves Christian. Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to belong. But it’s not enough, either. It’s certainly not the radically surrendered sort of life that Jesus calls us to pursue.

The road to really following Jesus truly is immensely narrow. A lot of us have missed it, and gotten lost, especially in recent years. But it is also ridiculously simple, as simple as it is costly, as simple as it is beautiful:

A Christian is someone who has fully committed their entire life to following the Living Christ and incarnating Him in everything they do.

If you want to know what Christianity really is, that’s it. Don’t be fooled by substitutes.

Michael Warden

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