“Well, obviously they aren’t a REAL Christian”

Christian Living

“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 was the mighty Savior promised in the stories told to every generation since Adam. So they rejected Him and condemned Him to death. 

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,

Sharon Bollum

3 COMMENTS
  • Mike
    Reply

    Well written good and faithful servant!

  • Owen Bartlett
    Reply

    Hi Sharon,
    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.

    Thank you!

    1. Sharon
      Reply

      Good morning Owen!
      I am so sorry for the long delay in replying. I only saw your comment this morning. I just posted a blog about transgender people being treated poorly by the Church last night. I hope you’ll read it.

      The scripture references are all great for instruction and guidance. But the reason we can’t hang our theology on the hook of just one or two scriptures is that there is almost always room for more than one interpretation. We must rely on the “full counsel of God”. That means all that the Bible teaches us in its entirety. What does the Bible teach us about God? What does it teach us about mankind? What does it teach us about Christ?

      We know from scripture that God loves His creation and wants nothing more than for us to worship Him only, to be free of sin, and safe from evil. He wants us to live in perfect unity with Him and with one another. It also teaches us that we are hopelessly unable to live up to that standard. Our hearts are corrupted by all manner of sin. Some of us more than others. Some of us, though we fail often, really WANT to please God and honor Him with our lives. Some actually delight in lying, stealing, cheating, and a whole list of other sins.

      Christ died for all of us, however, not all of us are interested in being washed clean by His blood. Not all of us welcome His Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

      You can’t tell who is who by what they look like. You can’t even tell who is who in the Church! Both the saint and the sinner are revealed by their actions and their choices. Especially those done in secret. That’s why the clearest message Christ gave us in the Gospels is this: Jesus looks upon the heart. That’s why He rejected the Pharisees and welcomed the prostitute and the tax collector. He wasn’t endorsing prostitution or government corruption. He knew their hearts.

      It was because of His loving kindness people changed their lives and followed Him.

      Religious people rejected the leper, they made no room at their table for the sick or the lame. But Jesus did. Not BECAUSE they were sick or lame. Because their hearts were sincerely and genuinely open to Him. You said you are transgender. How is your heart? Does your life reflect Christ into the world around you? Do you seek His will and His blessings in your life? Do you serve Him and love His Church? I don’t fear for my friends who fear God and actively strive to please Him. I fear for my friends who thumb their nose at God and revel in their freedom to make immoral decisions. I fear for the people who call themselves “Christian” in their Tender, Bumble, Match.com bios, and collect sexual partners like butterflies. I don’t fear for my transgender friends who’s only real struggle is with their physical identity, not the moral choices they make.

      1 Samuel 16:7, ” The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

      Guard your heart. Consume scripture so much that it becomes a part of you. Find your identity in Christ and rejoice in it.

      Let me close by asking you the same question I asked a friend who is gay. If Jesus stood before you today and said, “The way you are living is wrong.”. Would you walk away from your lifestyle or would you walk away from Christ? Without hesitation, she said, “I’d walk away from my lifestyle”.

      We don’t understand why some people are gay. We don’t understand why some people are trans. But we know it wasn’t a choice they made. If God wants to change you He will tell YOU. He won’t ask a mob of small-minded Christians who excuse their own sins while condemning yours or mine.

      Know in your heart and mind how you would respond to God alone. And forget the opinions of anyone else. God loves you, Owen! Keep your heart open to Him.

      “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Then all these things will be added unto you. Hallelujah! Matthew 6:33

      In His love and service,
      Sharon

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