Do you ever feel like you were sold Christianity by someone who was better suited to infomercials? That all their high-pitched, excited “Jesus is all you need” and “Jesus is the answer to everything” and especially their “Jesus has an incredible plan for your life, don’t miss it” was just another sales pitch you fell for? Have you considered donating your lack-luster, powerless Christianity to Goodwill along with your Slap Chop, Shake Weight, Thigh Master, and Ginsu knives?
I’ve been there. I know how you feel.
Jesus is not a product to be pitched and He is certainly not something to add to your life to make it perfect.
In 1995, when I prayed the prayer to accept Jesus I did it for two reasons. First, I had heard of the rapture and I did not want to be left behind and second, and even more important to me, it was the only way to get my son into a Christian school that I had set my heart on.
I didn’t surrender my life to a God I revered. I didn’t pray for the right reasons at all. I couldn’t have because I didn’t understand the enormous impact and beauty of the gospel. I probably still don’t, fully. The wisdom of God is so far above my understanding. He is a God who always was, is, and will be. That alone is enough to confuse the heck out of my finite mind.
In 1996, after spending time in the Word and realizing that I did not know this God I was pretending to have accepted “into my heart,” I finally admitted my pretense to Him. It had been a tough year and I really didn’t enjoy living on this earth anymore. I was in a difficult marriage running a failing business and, although it may not have been true, I felt the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I lay on the floor of my closet begging the God that all my new friends seemed to know so well, to please take my life. I had an encounter with Jesus that day that would change me forever. It was there in my closet that I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
For the next twenty plus years, I’ve had to learn to surrender to Him repeatedly, and renew my mind with His truth because nearly everything this world taught me was simply wrong. It isn’t easy to cling to Jesus, to trust His word, to walk in His ways, and to make everything in life about His Kingdom. This world is under the power and influence of the Prince of Darkness and this very real enemy of ours is incredibly deceitful.
I have watched more sermons, read more Christian Living books, and spent more time in the Word than the average American Christian and still it’s only recently that I feel I finally understand what the real Christian life is supposed to be. I’m talking about the normal, Spirit-filled life that Jesus died to give us. The one He tells us about in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
I’m just going to go ahead and say it, it seems to me that most of the American church is living under a cloud of deception. They believe what they’ve been told by pastors who maybe should never have considered themselves teachers. They haven’t searched the scriptures for themselves to see that believing in Jesus means far more than believing He exists or even, that he is God. Remember even the demons believe and shudder. They may believe but they don’t submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That type of belief does not save!
When I look at the Word and then the church around me, something doesn’t match up.
I look at the power and authority that Jesus walked in and then read John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Is this what we see everywhere in the church? In our own lives?
What I read of in the New Testament is so hard to find in the American church. It’s not impossible to find. But the red words of Christ himself in Matthew 7:13,14 tell us, “For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Look around and see, many are walking the broad path.
This reality truly scares me.
Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruit. What fruit are we bearing? Is it Kingdom fruit? Or is it fruit of a kingdom of our own making?
I ask the Lord often, as you should, to search me and show me what needs to change in my life.
Doesn’t Proverbs 14:12 warn us that there is a way that seems right to man that leads to death? Are we living that way?
Doesn’t Proverbs 3:5,6 warn us to not lean on our own understanding but in all our ways we are to rely on and acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths? Are we leaning on the world’s teachings?
Doesn’t 2 Timothy 3 tell us that God’s Word alone has the power to make us wise for salvation? Are we trusting in anyone else’s words?
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so we can never say God didn’t warn us.
Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding will always line up perfectly with Scripture. God’s Word is eternal and will have the final say.
If you, like me for so many years, haven’t experienced the More of Christianity, the abundant life that Jesus came to give us, don’t blame Him. Let’s get on our faces and repent of living for the world instead of from the Word, or of living from our own understanding instead of His Word, or maybe of not allowing His Word to renew our minds and convict us continually. If we’re not living in the More, let’s be willing to take the blame because it’s our fault.
The More of being a disciple of Christ takes being fully submitted. Being wholly His is the narrow path that leads to life.
This life is just a quick seventy, eighty, maybe ninety-year blip and then our future is set for eternity! If we’ll live submitted to the Word and let Holy Spirit be our teacher we’ll experience the MORE, now and forever.