The Problem With The “Christian” Label

The Problem With The Christian Label

We people of earth tend to put a label on things to categorize it. “Clothing.” “Food.” “Books.” “Electronics.”

What we all know (or at least should) is that not everything in the same category serves the same purpose.

For example, when you go clothes shopping in preparation for the cold winter, you’re (hopefully) not going to buy crop tops and short shorts. When you go food shopping for a nice dinner party that you’re hosting, you’re not going to buy circus peanuts for an appetizer. When you want to buy a bookworm a book for their birthday, you’re not going to buy them a textbook on quantum mechanics 401 (unless that’s exactly what they want, of course). When someone wants ‘a portable electronic device,’ you probably will not buy them a bulky desktop computer.

We have discernment when it comes to these things, and obviously use common sense. Think hard about what you want to get, and then get it. Get the right thing, not some imitation or replacement. Get the real thing.

Here’s where the mistake comes in.

We tell ourselves that anything with the label “Christian” on it must be good.

And then we are led so far astray from truth, that we confuse ourselves greatly.

Going back to the previous analogy, if you want clothes for winter, make sure you know what you need and exactly what you want to get, and then get it.

As Christians, this happens all too often.

Friend: “The podcast from so-and-so’s church is so great! Go listen to it!”

Us: “Seriously? That sounds nice. What church is it?”

Friend: “It’s really popular here in [thisbigcity] and they definitely believe in Jesus and stuff. All I know is that it’s Christian, which is all that matters.”

Us: “Popular? And Christian? Cool. Where can I find the podcast?”

This is a huge mistake. When we hear the word Christian, our guards go down and we have a tendency to just accept it because if it’s Christian, well then obviously it must be true.

But that’s not how we treat food! Just because it says “food,” doesn’t mean we should eat it. What about cat food or plant food? Of course you would not eat that. I would not eat that. “Food” is taken way out of context, and of course we have to be discerning when it comes to what kinds of food to eat and not to eat.

Even when it comes to filet mignon versus circus peanuts. They’re both food, yes. Are they both equal? NO WAY.

What we do is we hear the “Christian” label slapped on anything that mentions Jesus, and we accept it as if it’s from the mouth of God Himself, as if anything mentioning God gets His approval.

Let’s face it.

We go to conferences with our youth groups, soaking up every word because of course He’s preaching the Bible (all the while listening because He’s the top youth speaker in the country, of course, and a good Christian!).

We listen to sermons, expecting that everything the preacher says is going to line up with the Bible 100%.

We turn on K-LOVE or Air1 (or Christian music on Pandora, or whatever), and expect every song to be biblically based, because we assume that everybody who proclaims the name of Jesus must have it all figured out.

We go into Christian bookstores and let ourselves grab whatever book we so desire, because if the Christian store carries it, then it must be totally right and absolutely trustworthy.

That’s like us walking into Macy’s and buying clothes because they’re in the clothes department.

We go in with good intentions, but come out a confused and worse-off mess.

Christianity is about being saved by Jesus, absolutely. But as a Christian, you’re not constantly in the process of being saved, because Jesus has already saved you­. After you’ve accepted Jesus, it’s time to grow.

You need the right kind of food to grow, not just any food. Candy does not have nutritional value, honestly, and if you expect to grow because you’re liking what you eat, well, good luck with that.

As naïve people, we tend to flock to shiny and nice things. Think of those “name-it-and-claim-it” preachers, the ones that say that “if you just have enough faith, you’ll be a millionaire in no time flat!”

Excuse me, but where exactly in the Bible is that taught? And if this world is my temporary home, how will being rich and living the dream let me “set my mind on things above” (Colossians 3:2)?

I’m saying these things because false doctrine is really sneaky.

Doctrinal misleadings are subtle, most times. Some can come in the form of denominations that are heretical and yet claim to follow the Bible. Some are evangelists that say you have to earn your salvation, when it’s already been established that salvation is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet others are those who command that you must confess every single sin to God, even after you’re a Christian and God has already forgiven your sins through Jesus. Sin isn’t just forgiven, it’s forgotten and cast away (Micah 7:19, Hebrews 10:17). Those who force us via preaching, books, music, etc. to live seeing ourselves as sinners in the constant state of repentance instead of children of God that are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:6) mislead us.

These are incredibly important distinctions to make.

“Christian” doesn’t mean guaranteed to be biblical. Just like “food” is not guaranteed to be healthy.

There are even some blogs I follow that I don’t completely agree with doctrinally. This doesn’t mean that I throw out everything they say, but that I filter through it. So many people have good points, which shouldn’t be discredited. What we should do, however, is view everything with discernment.

The more we read the Bible, the more we’ll be able to see things clearly.

We can’t afford to listen to everything under the sun that claims to be Christian, because that’s not using wisdom. We can, however, get to know the Bible better – in context and knowledge of proper audience, too. In turn, we will learn to discern the truth from the lies, and grow up to be healthy, wise believers.

*aj

Selfishness, The Holy Spirit, and I’m Not Perfect.

Selfishness, The Holy Spirit, and I'm Not Perfect.

This is somewhat of a difficult post for me to write.

I’m writing this post to clarify a few things, and to apologize to all of you lovely readers.

I have a habit of writing the night before I post something, which is usually okay, but I’ve definitely made a few mistakes when it comes to that. Sometimes, I don’t let God guide my words and I end up saying things that aren’t necessarily inaccurate, but incomplete. And I want to address one of those posts today.

I wrote Fighting Selfishness on August 11th of this year. I don’t regret writing it, but there’s so much that I didn’t say, could’ve said differently, or just shouldn’t have said. For that, I’m sorry. I’d like to address that post and continue with what I was trying to say.

I wrote Fighting Selfishness because I saw in my own life that I had a tendency to be selfish. I like to do my own thing (which is okay in and of itself) but I was perhaps letting it get in the way of what I needed to be doing to help others instead.

That motivated me to write the post, but I missed a key element.

Sure, we should strive for selflessness, because selflessness is a good thing.

HOWEVER, if we are not being led by the Spirit, we will not be able to become more Christlike.

So here is my point.

Selflessness is possible for us because we have the Holy Spirit in us, growing us and leading us to become more like Christ.

There is no “try harder.” There is no “work more at it.”

And just so you don’t think I’m making this up, here’s a verse in Romans 14. This passage is talking about convictions and our freedom in Christ, specifically in regard to food, and I really like it. If you want to check it out, go here.

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

We have been given freedom in Christ to live in a way that is pleasing to God. Freedom means we “can” do whatever we want, but not that we “should.” We are no longer bound by the law and the Ten Commandments, because that is not what saves us!

Praise God for that, because we could never keep the law perfectly.

Back to my points on the selfishness article.

I didn’t say anything about the Holy Spirit there because I was so focused on how selfishness isn’t living like a true Christian should.

That’s not the point at all, though.

The point is to grow in an understanding of the amazing grace of God. To live by the Holy Spirit’s leading, and not by a list of do’s and don’t’s, and should’s and shouldn’t’s.

This is what prompts us to live selflessly.

 

I’m so sorry if my tone has ever been a “you have to do ____” instead of an encouragement to live out our faith with joy. I want to inspire us to live lives that are led by the Holy Spirit, and not just some laws. Because that’s not right.

We should live selflessly, yeah. But we shouldn’t be aiming to live more this or more that. Our aim should be to grow in Christ, to please Him, and to become more like Him. Not to follow some rules in order to be better people.

By living a life that is led by the Holy Spirit, our selflessness flows from that. Why? Because ultimately, it’s not about us. If we become selfless because of our own doing, then we’d have something to boast about, which we don’t. If we succeed at something, it will always be God working through us and not us doing it on our own.

That’s basically the point that I want to clarify today. I’m sorry that I didn’t say it before.

Thank you all for being patient with me as I grow in my own faith!

*aj

Fighting Selfishness

Distant Mountains

Life is beautiful…

…most of the time.

Anybody feel me?

My life gets so messy sometimes, and it’s sickening how self-absorbed everyone in this world is.

And, you know, how selfish people can be by nature. Myself included. I’m trying my best to work on that.

There’s this song in The Lorax (the newer movie) that is perfect and sick at the same time when it comes to the human sin nature.

Here’s the first part of it.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just following my destiny.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? How bad can I possibly be?

Well there’s a principle of nature (principle of nature)

That almost every creature knows.

Called survival of the fittest (survival of the fittest)

And check it this is how it goes.

The animal that eats gotta scratch and fight and claw and bite and punch.

And the animal that doesn’t, well the animal that doesn’t winds up someone else’s lu-lu-lu-lu-lunch (munch, munch, munch, munch, munch)

I’m just sayin’.

 

*sputters*

Even though this movie does not support that point of view, it makes me want to get up and scream, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

Because whether it seems like it or not, the world acts like this by nature.

“Survival of the fittest” is an excuse to go first, take the “bigger piece,” and all that.

It’s just a dumb excuse to feed into entitlement. The deadliest form of selfishness, and I’m pretty sure we all fight it.

Because it’s no secret or surprise that we all have a raging sin nature inside of us, wanting to control us. I mean seriously, if we were “all set,” then Jesus would not have had to come and die for us.

So, do you want to know how to beat selfishness?

Me too, so let’s look at the Bible.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Philippians 2:3-11

 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So…what do these mean, though? And how do they apply to us?

Glad y’asked.

The most IMPORTANT thing that we could possibly do is die to ourselves.

Just because we’re “saved” doesn’t mean we’re growing. It’s an ongoing process of dying to self and living for Christ.

For me, this means giving up my personal wishes. For example, maybe I’m tired, but I still need to serve my family. It’s constantly putting my selfish wishes to go take a nap or read a book behind me and saying, “It’s not all about me. It’s about living for God.”

And honestly, that is soooo much more rewarding than vegging out on the couch being unproductive. Knowing that I’m serving my Creator makes me happier than I would be if I were just binge-watching Netflix and letting my family pull my weight.

Another thing is that we consider others better than ourselves.

Can you imagine if we all did this? If we all treated each other with love, kindness, and respect? Those things are contagious, you know, and it’s so amazing to serve others. It brings me such joy, even when I don’t “feel” like being selfless. My attitude changes if I let it.

And lastly, living like the world isn’t worth it.

It’s really not worth it to live a life rooted in sin and selfishness. Because when we follow after God and do not conform to the world, we are transformed, we see the will of God, and we grow to be more like Him.

In the grand scheme of time and space in all eternity, it’s important to cultivate the things that’ll last: our souls.

Because life can be beautiful, if we let it be.

We can let the world be brighter by being selfless and living for God joyfully, or we can dwell on the shallow things that make us self-absorbed and lead us to be ungrateful vegetables.

Take your pick.

*aj