I’m a Christian. A reasonable response to that statement might be, “So what?” After all, what does the world outside the Christian church see as examples? Consider the Protestant church. There are so many to choose from. We’re protesting, all right. The problem is, everyone has a different idea about what it is we should protest. Even if you only consider the major players, there are a lot of choices. It’s almost as though every time someone got ticked off with the pastor, he got the rest of the pew to get up and start another church. “Let’s have our services on Thursdays. There’s gotta be a scripture that says Sundays aren’t right.” And just like that, The Church of Let’s All Watch Football On Sundays and Go to Church on Thursdays is born.
So what’s the current status of the Christian church? Living in the time and country I live in, there certainly isn’t much risk. When Christianity was born, believers were hunted down and were tortured or killed. What about now? You still need to make sure you’re in the right country before you admit to following Christ. In China, unless your church is state sanctioned, you can be arrested. Recently an American pastor with duel citizenship was arrested in Iran. Apparently Iran was okay with him having dual citizenship, but being a Christian pastor was beyond the pale. Those are just a few of the many examples we could cite. I think the Jewish leadership mentioned in the Bible’s book of Acts was onto something when they first considered how they should handle what was at the time the fledgling Christian church. After considering several instances where other movements had fallen by the wayside, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel said, “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39. Smart man, that Pharisee. So here we are, somewhere around 2,000 years later. With all its arguing, schisms, and imperfections, the Christian church remains, even where governments insist on trying to stamp it out.
So what is a Christian? Certainly, we must accept the whole of the Bible, in context. The fact that the Bible has survived virtually unchanged for so long and has been reprinted in so many languages is unprecedented. The many prophesies concerning Jesus Christ and the development of His lineage are amazing in their accuracy. Recently we celebrated Christmas, the miraculous introduction of our savior to the world. “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. God sent His son to be a sacrifice for mankind’s disobedience, inherited from the first man. Jesus himself was never one to mince words. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6. This was no timid statement. Note that He didn’t say He was only a way, a truth, or a life. In order to accept Christ’s sacrifice, we must first admit we have fallen short. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. We must then make a personal declaration… “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10
I believe the bold, unvarnished message of salvation should be the foundation of every Christian church. Also high on the list in my estimation should be the care and growth of those seeking to follow and imitate Christ. We, of all people should be most humble, knowing the cost paid to redeem us. As Christians, we need to understand that each person we meet has a unique path to walk, a unique history, and a unique burden. Abigail Van Buren put it well when she said, “A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”