The most popular post I ever wrote was titled, “What Does it Mean to be a Christian?” I wrote that after a close friend of mine had accepted the Lord and I wanted to give him a primer of sorts as to what living a life devoted to Christ should look like. I believe that we who have called ourselves Christians for a long time probably skim over articles such as that one, assuming they are too basic or that we already know what being a Christ-follower entails. The past couple of years have convinced me that nothing could be further from the truth. The vast majority of people calling themselves Christians have no idea what it means to truly follow Christ.
I see people every week at church who do little to differentiate themselves from everyone else in the world. They spend their time and money on exactly the same things. How then can we claim that Jesus is Lord of our lives when those who would never make that claim live lives identical to our own? If we have truly encountered the love of Jesus, we will never be the same. We cannot continue living as we always have. We would be changed and that change would manifest itself in the way we live.
Jesus said that those who love Him will obey His commands (John 14:12-15). He said those who choose to follow Him will surrender everything they have, abandon their families, and even give up their lives for the sake of the good news of His message (Mark 10:17-21; Luke 14:26-27; Matthew 24:9). I don’t see a lot of that happening in our world today. I see token efforts towards alleviating suffering, but far greater energy given to insulating ourselves against the world. Think about it, when was the last time your congregation was asked to pledge money over three years to send to the starving, the poor, and the persecuted? It doesn’t happen! But I’d be willing to bet you’ve been asked to give money in the same way in order to build a larger, more comfortable facility in which to gather each week.
As a whole, modern Western Christianity looks nothing like the beautiful and humble servant King we profess to follow. We are consumed with self-love and self-comfort. We have become entangled by the concerns and attractions of this world (2 Timothy 2:4). At best we give lip service to the problems of our generation, and at worst we are entirely unconcerned. As Keith Green used to say, “This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls.” There is no one else who will tell others about Christ. There is no one else who will feed the hungry, care for the sick, give water to the thirsty, clothe the poor, visit those in prison or shelter the homeless (Matthew 25:31-46). There is no one else who will break the chains of injustice (Isaiah 58:6) or look after the orphans and widows (James 1:27). We are it. We are plan ‘A’ and we are plan ‘B’. As followers of Christ it is up to us to look different, act different, and be different. There is no such thing as a casual Christian. You can’t follow half-heartedly. You are either in or you are out.