Religion has become a matter of preference in our Western culture. It’s a box we check on a form or on social media. But is it possible that we’ve missed the point? If we take a good, hard look at what the Bible says about God and the world He has created, we find that Christianity is not a label we can choose. Our faith is so much more than that. It’s everything.
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Christianity deals with life or death.
According to the Bible, only one way leads to life. All other roads lead to death. This is a big deal. While some choose to see religion as something “nice” to follow or have in your life for moral and emotional support, Christianity is pretty black and white. You are either a follower of Jesus or you aren’t. And following Jesus requires everything… complete surrender in every area of your life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” – John 5:24
If you really believe something, your actions will show it.
What you know to be true will determine your behavior. For example, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that what goes up must come down. This knowledge keeps me from doing something stupid like jumping off a bridge. I can tell you that I believe something to be true over and over again, but if I don’t ever act on these beliefs… or I regularly act in a way that contradicts these beliefs… you’ll probably begin to wonder if I actually believe it.
As Christians, do we really believe what we say we believe? Do we truly believe that sin harms our lives and separates us from God? Do we really believe that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against unseen rulers in the spirit realm? If so, our actions and behaviors will match these beliefs. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t mess up from time to time as we grow in Christ, but our typical daily behaviors should look different.
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? – James 2:19-20
You can’t be a part-time Christian.
Religion has become a thing for choice. Some in our culture believe that all paths lead to the same God, while others refuse to believe in God at all. This makes for a world where religious becomes a thing I choose to make a “part” of my life. But is this even possible? Is it possible for God to be a “part” of anything?
Truth be told, God isn’t an accessory you can add to your life. You can’t just say, “I’m a Christian,” go to church occasionally, and go to God only when you need help. This completely contradicts everything the Bible has to say about our faith.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23
Hiding your faith is not an option.
You can’t be a Christian around some people in your life, and hide your Christianity in front of others. If you believe what the Bible has to say about God and the life He has given us, then nothing changes that truth. It’s true around your church friends, and it’s true around your non-church friends.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
Now this doesn’t mean that we need to inappropriately flaunt our faith or put others down for not believing the way we do. Our faith is a precious gift from God, and it should be treated as such. (Matthew 7:6) We also need to remember that Jesus was never harsh with non-believers. He demonstrated His love first, and then dealt with their sin… not the other way around. (The only people Jesus was ever “harsh” with were the religious leaders who should have known better… not those who were genuinely lost.)
All this being said, a faith lived out loud speaks volumes. Our faith should cause us to act differently, and acting differently will speak in ways our words cannot. While it is understandable that there are certain situations where we can’t openly talk about our faith in Jesus (like work, for example), our behavior as Christians cannot be hidden. We walk in God’s love, His joy, and His peace. We are called to love even the “unlovable” and serve others needs before our own. This is true no matter what environment we find ourselves in.
Christianity is not a label we can give ourselves. It’s an identity given to us by God when we fully surrender our lives to Him.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.