En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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-Is Christianity A Turnoff to You…Part One?

Posted by Scott on August 29, 2007

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My guess is that the majority of folks would answer “Yes” to this question.  This was not Christ intentions in the beginning at all.  Nor was it the Apostles goal either.  For people to be turned off by Christianity is not a great success.  So, let’s explore for a moment what authentic or true Christianity should be in part one.

As 2 Corinthians 2:14 tells us:

“Thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.”

Ray Stedman has said in his classic bestselling book, Authentic Christianity,

“One unmistakable evidence of radical Christianity is a spirit of thankfulness, even amid trial and difficulty.  It is a kind of unquenchable optimism.”

If we are authentic in our Christian life a few characteristics are visible to people.

•1.     Belief in God’s full sovereign control of all things, His unfailing grace, and constant love for His people.

•2.     The kind of optimism Ray describes is rooted in reality not fantasy or dreams.

•3.     Authentic Christianity can feel every pain, every hurt, every poke and realize that we do not find it fun at all or easy to experience.

•4.     The real Christian, however, can see through all this pain and turmoil to a more gloriously final result.  A true Christian is able to visualize what this pain is accomplishing in us.  It is all for God’s greater glory.

•5.     It exudes a tremendous amount of confidence in our Lord to the point that one can be thankful to Him even in the midst of turmoil and pain that feels as though our insides will explode.  A real Christian understands that nothing happens to us by chance or accident.  God is in full control of it all and has a purpose for the pain and turmoil.

A record of such confidence is in Acts 16 where Paul and Silas are imprisoned, bound by chains.  Their backs ripped apart from a beating and bruises swell into knots on their heads and limbs.  As they sat in the dark smelly cold jail cell they broke out into a worshipful song.  They are praising their God for this opportunity to suffer for Him.  Out of the darkness and quiet of the night something amazing happens.  This amazing turn of events was not known by these two men as they broke out in song, but their confidence was upheld by a massive earthquake that tore down walls, opened their cell door and loosened their chains.  How many Christians today would see being chained, flogged and in jail something to worship about?  How many could truthfully rejoice about an earthquake that rocks their home or family?  Real joy must have filled their hearts at the moment they realized they were safe and free. 

One thing we can conclude from this is that Christianity has changed over the years to look more like an unfaithful, non-trusting, scarred, stale, mundane, lifeless, and weak institution of a religion that seemingly offers nothing for a non-believer or the world at large.  The worlds view of our God is by what they see in our lives.

As Ray Stedman has poetically put it, “…the most subtle stratagem ever devised by satan to deceive and mislead people is that of causing genuine Christians to practice a sham Christianity before the world.”

 Christ example would be a group of people filled with real love and joy even in the midst of troubles.  This does not mean “dumbing” down the truth of God’s word or going against any biblical truth.  But if people cannot see an authentic love from us for them our Christianity means nothing. An authentic love that does not look at their outward actions, appearance, or words, but shows loving eyes that peers deep into their heart and deep into their inward responses.  Let God be the judge of their sins and our sins and allow Christ to love them through us.  Remember the only real distinction between a non-believer and a believer is that we have Christ.  We are not any better or worse.  We can point them in the right direction and can have a great influence on them, but not unless we are able to get them to listen to us.  How will they listen to us you might say….by shutting our mouths and listening to them first.  They need to see our actions from our heart as genuine and real.  Wrathful, hatefield words from us is not attractive.  It will not open their hearts in order to receive the truth of God’s holy word.  Our political conscience should not get in the way of the love we should have for them or how we respond to those that do not know Christ.  Put the judgmental, high toned, prideful speech aside.   We need to look no further than Jesus Himself to see what we as Christians are to look like. 

“…move beyond religion, beyond doctrines, beyond rules, beyond rituals, and into that life-changing experience of being intimately connected with Christ at the very core of your being-for that is authentic Christianity!”

Ray C. Stedman

Scott Bailey 2007 ©

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