Last year, I spoke at a women’s conference, sharing my spiritual journey from beige-Christianity to actually being in love with Jesus. A woman a few rows back, had a sad look on her face and I wasn’t surprised when, during the Q and A time, she asked the first question.
“My husband is a beige Christian, at best. What advice do you have for helping me, help him?”
I told her the truth. I’m not sure anyone can cure anyone else of lukewarm, passionless Christianity, or if you can even call that Christianity. Only the Holy Spirit’s conviction can do that. However, if you know, or suspect, that you, or someone you love is just going through the motions spiritually, and is open to breaking free from that, here’s my best advice to jumpstart your spiritual life;
If you’re leading a study at your church, or mentoring someone, this is a great topic for discussion. Almost no one thinks they’re a secular Christian, which is the first potential problem – self-deceit.
Just to be clear; Secular Christians are different than carnal Christians. A carnal Christian is someone who claims to be a Christian, yet is living in clear violation of God’s moral laws. However a secular Christian is far more subtle because while they attend church and have an outward veneer of spirituality, they have very little spiritual depth and do not possess a worldview that actually governs their day to day decisions.
The truth is, almost every Christian I know, including me, has drifted into both carnal and secular Christianity from time to time. So, I’m not pointing fingers at them. I’m suggesting all of us use this blog as a tool for self-examination.
I threw this question out to a group of leadership men one morning in a monthly discussion group I lead called 1st Tuesdays. I could tell that initially most of the men put themselves in the Christian ambassador column. However as the conversation went on and we began to explore the differences between a Christian ambassador and Christian tourists, several of the men grew more quiet and thoughtful. It’s also been a word picture I’ve used with our children and grandchildren, to help them better understand the mission of true kingdom people.
The term ambassador as a descriptor for Christians comes from Paul. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” II Cor. 5:20a
Of course, everyone always presses me to define the difference between the two, so I explain it this way.
When I was a kid and in school, I was a hard kid to teach because I rarely took what people told me to be true, unless they could answer my questions. And I questioned everything! In college, I was a philosophy minor. I loved discussing and arguing ideas, to sort out conventional thinking from true wisdom (as I saw it).
Even today, as a follower of Jesus, it bothers me when I hear other Christians use as the answer to almost everything, “because the Word of God says so.” I immediately want to ask “where does the Bible say that? Are there any other verses that give a different interpretation? Are the verses we’re both reading taken in context, or just quoted to justify an idea you already believe to be true?”
I also go on high alert whenever I hear someone quote a pastor who has a reputation for being on the edge. It’s a great temptation for a young pastor, to try to find a new meaning – to a long-held teaching of scripture, and then write a book about it, as if that validates the teaching.
I’m wary of pat answers or new interpretations. You should be very wary of them as well. So, here are three great questions to ask as you study the Bible.