“Well, obviously they aren’t a REAL Christian”
Have you ever heard anyone say that? I sure have. I see it a lot in the comment sections of online articles, podcasts, and blogs too. One Christian sharply disagrees with another and in an effort to defend their point of view, if not the reputation of all Christendom declares, “Well, that’s not a real Christian.”
I’ve had my own Christian cred called into question because I didn’t share the same view on a social issue. Frankly, I find it obnoxious.
Why do we think the only “real” Christians are the ones who believe and behave exactly as we do?
“A real Christian would never act that way.”
“A real Christian would never say something like that.”
Really? According to whom… You?
Let’s take a step back. Away from our own biases. Away from our self-authored policies and procedures manuals.
The very name, Christian, was coined to describe the people who believe the following:
Jesus Christ, the guy from Nazareth, was the One who was prophesied about in the Old Testament to redeem God’s people. He was the promised Savior for whom the Jews had been waiting for generations.
He was born of a virgin, Mary, and was the physical incarnation of God on earth.
He led a sinless life and showed us how we may be reconciled to God, forgiven for our sins, and have eternal life with Him in heaven. He commanded us to love one another unselfishly and sacrificially and that “By this, all men will know that you are My disciples”
He performed miracles, forgave sins, healed the sick, raised the dead and shamed the religious for oppressing God’s people with endless rules and standards they themselves did not keep. All to demonstrate God’s redeeming love as well as His authority over His people and all creation.
The Jews were expecting a savior who rose up through earthy government, with a list of bona fides that proved He outranked the current leaders of the Jewish people as well as the Roman government. They could not and would not believe a penniless guy who hung out with thieves, prostitutes, and tax collectors
Though innocent, He allowed Himself to be arrested, mocked, beaten and hung on a cross next to actual guilty people. There, as He hung in bitter agony, He asked our Father in heaven to forgive those who sinned against Him. In doing so, He bore our guilt that we may never suffer the penalty of our sin.
He was buried in a tomb and raised up from the dead three days later… just as He promised.
He ascended into Heaven where He sits at the Right Hand of God until He comes again to gather His people for all eternity.
Savior. Healer. Redeemer. Coming King.
That’s it. If you believe all of this to be true and choose to submit to Christ as your Lord and Savior…you are a REAL Christian.
The rest is all academic. Literally.
There are differing views of scripture that determine Orthodoxy (right doctrine) and Orthopraxis (right practice). Certainly, these things are essential to understanding and living out our faith …but not in determining who is a Christian and who is not.
Christians not only come in all shapes, sizes
and colors, they also follow Jesus at different paces and from varying distances.
Some run after Him and can’t wait to know everything about Him. They pray and praise every day, study His Word and devote themselves to serving Him and honoring Him with every breath they take. That doesn’t mean they don’t get some things wrong, but it does tend to make them more passionate about their lives as disciples.
Some take years to get there. Many Christians struggle with unhealed wounds and bitter roots that undermine all their relationships..including their relationship with Jesus. It’s simply not easy for them to trust and surrender… even when they want to. Sadly, until they do their progress toward intimacy and spiritual maturity will remain slow. However, as long as they continue to follow and grow, they are on the right path. We must encourage them with words that draw them closer to their own glorious moment of transformational Love. For it’s when we love Jesus we are able to keep His commands.
“If you love me, you will keep my commands.” John 14:15
Insulting them will never be helpful. It doesn’t make you look very good either.
Be patient. After all, how patient has God been with you?
Next time you’re in a situation like that, tell the truth, “I don’t believe that’s what the Bible teaches.” or even “I’m not sure that squares with Christian doctrine. You’ll have to show me how you arrived at that conclusion.”
Not only is that more loving, but it might also have some good effect. What if your disagreement sends you both back to the Bible for deeper study and greater understanding? What if it leads to one or both of you gaining greater wisdom and a deeper love for our Savior, Jesus Christ? More of a win, win don’t you think?
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. 3By this all men will know that you are My
disciples,if you love one another.” “
Please understand this. We are either drawing others to Jesus or repelling them by the way we conduct ourselves in every situation.
Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.Colossians 3:14
In His love and service,
Well written good and faithful servant!
Thank you so much for this article! There’s just something that I’ve been thinking about recently…
It says in the Bible that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13) and that ‘whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). However, it also says that people who do wrong will not be welcome in Heaven but will end up in Hell (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10) and that some people who believe will not be able to enter Heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).
However, that got me thinking about people who believe that same-sex marriage is okay. They might have come to faith through a church which is okay with same-sex marriage so not know any different. Does that mean that they are ‘unholy’ and ‘profane’ and will not have a share in Heaven? The Bible also says that we will be judged according to the motives of our actions (1 Corinthians 4:5).
I am not against Christians remaining celibate because they are gay and I do not support same-sex marriage, but I find it hard to believe that these people will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and excluded from Heaven just because they believed something slightly different about the Word of God with their whole hearts.
I write this not just because I can sometimes condemn other Christians, but because this set-up doesn’t seem fair to me. I know that we don’t have any rights before God but I just feel that this seems unfair and our internal moral compasses reflect the Image of God. Is this how God has decided things to be?
I think what makes it more difficult for me is that I am transgender. I have not yet transitioned because I don’t know if God wants me to repress these feelings or transition. I guess I don’t want to live the narrow, easy life of transitioning and then be told by Jesus that He never knew me and will throw me into the flames.
I’m sorry to write all of this and bring up such hard topics when we don’t have a working relationship, but reading your blog posts makes me think that you will have some insight into how I’m feeling and how salvation works.