For a number of years I have been convinced that many in the evangelical church in North America simply exchanged one religion for another – mind you, a born again religion but religion nonetheless.
We call people “Christians” and yet they are not – not in your wildest imagination. Their life style, their priorities, their interests, and their actions all tell us that they “hold to a form of our religion but denty the power thereof” In context Paul is writing about the power to bring life change.
Now before you jump down my throat and say that as a Christian I should not be judging – you know, ‘judge not and you shall not be judged”. Let’s really understand what the Bible states about judging a person. We cannot judge their heart because only God truly knows a person’s heart. However, we can judge the fruit in their lives – or the lack of it. The Bible states:
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”
Let’s look at those two verses taking the first half of verse 12 and adding the first half of verse 13 to it…then the second half of verse 12 adding the second half of verse 13 to that… it would then read: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? God judges those outside. Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”
So, we may not be able to look at the roots but we can examine the fruit and from there decide if this person really is a Christian or is simply someone who said a sinner’s prayer and is holding to the outward form of our religion. Afterall, if the Christian faith is about a personal relationship with God – and God states, “I am the Lord, I change not” then it is obvious who will be doing the changing in the relationship – we will be! No change – then maybe we have the right to ask, “where is the fruit that should be a natural result of a relationship with God?”
When we embraced Jesus as our Lord and Savior we became disciples – or Christ-followers. He said that if we would follow Him “…He would make us…” so we would be transformed and changed. We would truly, as apprentices, become more and more like the Master we are following. Being a disciple or follower implies motion, movement, change, adjustment, transformation…. One pastor I was reading lately stated: “We almost never refer to people as ‘Christians,’ and have almost exclusively adopted the language of ‘Christ-follower,’ … Christ-follower implies movement… and speaks of ‘authentic conversion’.” I agree – totally agree.
We need more people who are truly converted and have come under new ownership and not just some sort of temporary new management as they try out Jesus to see if He will meet their needs.
We need more people who respond to the Gospel message with true godly sorrow and repentance because without repentance there is no salvation.
We need more people who are truly seeing the night-and-day difference Jesus is making (1 Peter 2:9 The Message) and are not afraid to tell others about the supernatural changes they have and are continuing to experience.
We need more true Christ-followers and fewer who hold to the outward form of our religion but are not constantly changing and growing into maturity under the power of the Holy Spirit.
We need to look at our own life and see if we are holding to this outward form without experiencing the power and life change that should be normative for all those who are following Jesus.
Time to take a good look – time to call a spade, a spade. Time to get serious and actually preach the true life-changing Gospel – sharing it with others. But, first, you need to be experiencing its life-changing power daily yourself.