What Is Being A Christian About?1
Hope Weekly 11/5/12
If someone approached you and asked you this question, “What would you say being a Christian is all about?” How would you respond?
As a youth pastor, and as a person who plays a role in helping students define this question in their own lives, how students respond to this question is of vital importance. In the latest and extensive research in their book titled Sticky Faith, co-authors Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark asked some college juniors who were “youth group graduates” to answer this question. Here are a couple of items they discovered:
More than two-thirds listed answers related to “doing” the faith, like “loving others” and “following Jesus’ example.More than one-third did not even mention Jesus, and of those, 35% did not mention God or Jesus!
Almost 70% of “youth group graduates when asked this question related it to “works,” etc. and about 34% of these individuals did not even mention the name of “Jesus” in their answer. Something is wrong!
Of course, being a disciple of Jesus involves an outcome of love and service, but is this ‘work’ the central definition of faith and being a Christian?
For the most part I am a rule follower. Tell me what you need me to do or define what I can’t do and I will try to live my life accordingly. I have been playing sports my entire life so I am used to following a set of rules that govern each sport. This is how this game is played, here are the rules that define the game, etc…. “game on.”
I teach math everyday so I live in the world of definite answers. 3 x 4 is 12, 3 cubed is 27, and so on. Whether I like a certain student more than another student is irrelevant when it relates to scoring homework or assessments. If they can answer correctly the problem that they are presented, great! No gray area there. Right or wrong. No biased or jaded opinions. End of discussion.
This “rule follower” mentality can be a great asset in many occasions, but when it comes to relationships it can be disastrous. Many times my wife and I have had disagreements regarding certain things because she sees the world a different way and I see the same situation as a “cut and dried, no gray area, black and white, end of discussion deal”. I regrettably need to share that I wish that life was always that “black and white”, but each of us know, it is hardly ever that easily defined…if ever!
Seeing the world and especially Christianity through a “list of rules” and “doings” is very dangerous and worse yet, excruciatingly tiresome!
As I am getting older, experiencing more of life’s ups and downs, and learning more and more about God, one thing that I really struggle with is God’s grace; the depth, width, and magnitude of this grace that is offered to all mankind, and especially to me. I know myself. I have been so conditioned to “perform” whether it be in athletics, school, work, etc., that each time I think that I have accepted and understood God’s grace and have it figured it out, I usually discover that I have attached a “works” or “performance” sticky note to it.
Does God really accept and love me for who I am?
Am I really redeemed (saved), because of God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:9)?
I didn’t do anything?
Exactly! I didn’t do anything to earn it and neither can you. How dare I and how pathetic can I be to think that somehow I can earn God’s favor and grace by (here are just some of my pathetic list of works that seep through my head way too often): 1] being a youth pastor, 2] going to church, 3] being to church on time, 4] teaching Sunday school, 5] taking students to camp, 6] completing a shoebox for Operation Christian Child or more than one…ooooh! so spiritual, 7] clapping and/or raising my hands during a worship song, 8] giving blood during the blood drive, 9] being a good husband and dad, and 10] tithe or giving money to good causes.
As I was writing down just those 10 (I have so many more pathetic ones), I found myself even embarrassed that somehow, that performing these “acts of goodness”, can somehow please God so that He will love me more! It’s such a pathetic, grotesque, and unbiblical thought!
God’s incredible and free gift of grace was extended to all mankind when Jesus, willingly went to the cross, shed His innocent blood, died, and was then was raised from the dead.
Nothing you can do whether good or bad can separate you from His love and grace (Romans 8:31-39). As I reread those statistics again about what how “youth graduates” are defining Christianity and they think it is about “doing” and “performing”, I have to think about what would our group of students say? What would the people of Hope say? What would you say? What would I say?
Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. Black and white. End of discussion.
This is the one thing that IS “cut and dried.”
Let’s stop working or trying to outperform each other or to please God. Encourage one another. Extend the same grace that has been offered to you to others. All of us could sure use some of that “Amazing Grace.”
Jesus. It’s what He Did. It’s Done. Rest in that Truth.