March 18, 2010

Putting The Christ Back in Christian

At the risk of being accusatory of the brethren I must confess I do not understand some of them sometimes. There are claims of devotion, talking the talk but when push comes to shove and the rubber meets the road...the words I hear and the actions I see do not jive. I realize that we remain sinners even after our conversion but it is easy to see sometimes why Christians are viewed with a jaundiced eye.

I realize Mahatma Gandhi was referring to the butchery in European history, its close association with Christianity and the misunderstanding that the Crusaders were Christian but...his statement below speaks volumes about people that claim to be Christian but show little or no "Fruits of the Spirit" spelled out in Galatians.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." ~Galatians 5:22-24 contrast this to Gandhi's observation:

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." ~Mahatma Gandhi

This was a man that was a non-believer but saw the inherent goodness in Jesus Christ (obviously he didn't see the divinity) and saw the obvious contradiction in many self-proclaimed Christian's behaviors. There is often a sharp contrast between the two. From a non-believers viewpoint it is seen as hypocrisy...and rightly so.

When I have my own brethren passing harsh judgement on me (and I'm a fellow Christian!) I can imagine how non-Christians are treated by them. It is no wonder we are vilified as a whole. They may be non-believers but they all have the potential to become believers and many are very intelligent. Treating them like common plebeians and condescending is counterproductive and frankly, stupid.

We are called to have a servants heart. To humble ourselves and to have the mind of Christ as in the "Kenosis" or self-emptying of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11...

"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 made himself nothing, 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."

Instead of servants we have many elitist in our ranks. They are raised or taught that they are to be different and the difference they learned or were taught is haughtiness or arrogance not Christlikeness and humility. We are to be set aside the way a clay jar is set aside to hold the treasure. It doesn't necessarily mean that we are to be the golden chalice that is the treasure. Christ is our treasure and by showing arrogance and elitism we are doing exactly what we are commanded not to do. We as the creation try to outshine the creator. Instead we just end up looking like pretentious buffoons. In the Beatitudes, Jesus said...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit"...not blessed are the lofty of heart.
He also said, "blessed are the meek"...not blessed are the arrogant.

Why aren't we to be arrogant and elitist? Do I really need to answer this? Because you end up not having the correct mindset for the Kingdom AND you will be a horrible example and representative of The Church! It is a shame but if one part of the body is defective the entire body is deemed defective. We are looked at like lepers, something that is to be avoided not approached.

When we see this type of behavior in our brethren we must be discerning of what manifestations of the Spirit they exhibit. If they show none we must seriously question their standing in the faith. When their behavior is clearly unscriptural we must call them to account based on Scripture. I can hear the lament already, "We're not to judge others". This is a standard misuse of Matthew 7:1. Many people quoting this passage fail to read the next one:

"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." ~Matthew 7:2

We are not to judge others in a measure that we ourselves would not want to be judged. In other words, DON'T BE A HYPOCRITE. Don't become what you are trying to point out to the person in error. We as Christians need to judge sometimes, it is called being discerning. We just need to be careful not to judge others for offenses that we ourselves are guilty of.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ~Matthew 7:3-6

I lost my high horse a long time ago. I know their is nothing good in me but Christ. The more of Christ there is in me the better the chances of me not messing something up. As it has been said in the past: Where I end, He begins.

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