Monday, March 21, 2016

Religious Christians

Chuckle: "When I was in the seventh grade, I once made an F plus on an English paper. F plus!! I failed alright, but obviously, I was good at it!"
Quote: "Let us beware of becoming so broadminded that we are unable to enter the narrow gate." --William Arthur Ward
"The disciples were called Christians (Christ-ones) first at Antioch" (Acts 11:26 NIV). "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27 NIV).
As a Christian, do you consider yourself religious? To be religious is to practice our Christian faith by carefully showing a strong adherence to the tenets of our faith -- living out each day what we say we believe. This includes both authentic worship of our Lord as well as acts of service and ministry to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of others. To claim to be a Christian without being religious is a contradiction.
Why is it important that we think about this? Well, I continue to read about people who want to be identified as Christians but without being labeled as "religious." To be identified as religious has taken on a negative connotation in the minds of some people. They see Christians as mean-spirited, judgmental, critical, condemning, and with a battle mentality of "them" and "us." And they want to be seen as more tolerant, loving, caring, and understanding of others who do not share our beliefs.
In an effort to be seen as tolerant and politically correct, some "Christians" are becoming more accepting of adulterous relationships, the homosexual lifestyle, same sex marriages, abortions, and other behaviors that are contrary to the teachings of God's Word. They have a hard time dealing with the truth that sin is sin, no matter how we try sugar-coat it or try to make it into an acceptable lifestyle. In the political realm, some want to be "Christian" without being labeled as part of the Religious Right. But politics aside, to claim to be a Christian without being religious and living by the teachings of God's Word is to not be Christian at all.
We can stand firmly for our Christian beliefs without being mean-spirited and judgmental. But to compromise our beliefs for the sake of political correctness is to deny who we are in Jesus Christ. Jesus warns us that when we stand for Him, without compromise, we will be criticized, marginalized, and otherwise persecuted. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering . . . If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name (Christian)" (1 Peter 4:12, 14, 16 NIV).
So, the question for us is, how can we stand firm in Christian beliefs while presenting the gospel message in a loving, caring, and Jesus-like way -- in a way that makes Christianity attractive to people who are searching for meaning in life? "And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way" (1 Peter 3:15b-16a NLT). I believe God would have us demonstrate that having Christ as our Savior and Lord has transformed our lives and has a positive impact on the way we think, speak, and act.
Love, Jerry & Dotse

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