Chris­tians of con­ve­nience

The Covington News - - Religion -

There is a can­cer grow­ing in Chris­ten­dom to­day— a grow­ing num­ber of pro­fess­ing Chris­tians who are not true be­liev­ers.

Peo­ple who claim to be Chris­tian be­cause they pro­fess to be­lieve cer­tain creeds, but who do not be­lieve in Je­sus Christ. They think they are Chris­tians be­cause they hold to a nom­i­nal (and in many cases min­i­mal) ad­her­ence to creedal Chris­tian­ity but they have no com­mit­ment to the Christ of Chris­tian­ity.

The prob­lem ap­par­ently is not new. The Apos­tle Paul wrote in 66 A.D., “Even though they will make a show of be­ing re­li­gious, their re­li­gion won’t be real. Don’t have any­thing to do with such peo­ple” (2 Ti­mothy 3:5, CEV).

There are al­ways the curious who hang around the com­mit­ted, but who stop short of mak­ing a com­mit­ment them­selves. Ju­das walked with Je­sus for three and a half years, hung around the in­ner cir­cle, was the groups trea­surer, talked the talk, but when push came to shove, he not only de­nied the Lord he claimed to serve, he de­liv­ered him to death. Ju­das was a fol­lower of Je­sus with­out be­ing a true be­liever.

Num­bers of his kind grow within Chris­ten­dom to­day.

What do th­ese peo­ple look like? How can I even dare to write such para­graphs as the ones above? What gives me the right to judge? Cer­tainly there will be those who not only take of­fense in what I have writ­ten and what I am about to write.

Je­sus was talk­ing to his true fol­low­ers in John 8:31-32 when a group of re­li­gious peo­ple who were hang­ing around him took of­fense. An ar­gu­ment en­sued, and re­al­iz­ing what he was claim­ing, those re­li­gious char­la­tans ended up pick­ing up stones to put him out of their mis­ery. They were go­ing to stone him for blas­phemy be­cause they un­der­stood com­pletely that he was claim­ing to be God.

That is the same point creedal Chris­tians miss.

They want a Je­sus who is a good moral teacher, they want an ethi­cist whose ethics they like they can ac­cept but whose ethics they dis­like they can re­ject. In short, they want what a friend of mine calls “de­signer Chris­tian­ity,” that is, a Chris­tian­ity they can pick and choose; a Chris­tian­ity they can mix and match with their own thoughts, philoso­phies or with other world reli­gions. Such a Chris­tian­ity is no Chris­tian­ity at all.

The great thinker/writer C.S. Lewis said, “Je­sus told peo­ple that their sins were for­given. This makes sense only if he re­ally was the God whose laws are bro­ken and whose love is wounded in ev­ery sin...I am try­ing here to pre­vent any­one say­ing the re­ally fool­ish thing that peo­ple of­ten say about him: ‘I’m ready to ac­cept Je­sus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t ac­cept his claim to be God.’

“That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Je­sus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would ei­ther be a lu­natic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg— or else he would be the devil of hell. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a de­mon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any pa­tron­iz­ing non­sense about his be­ing a great hu­man teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not in­tend to” (Martin­dale and Root, Edi­tors, “The Quotable Lewis,” Tyn­dale House Pub­lish­ers, Wheaton, IL 1989 p. 340).

Apart from rec­og­niz­ing Je­sus as God in the flesh (not a mere like God, or a mere like­ness of God but as God him­self, as God come look­ing for us) there is no Chris­tian­ity. Creedal con­fes­sions can­not sub­sti­tute for a liv­ing re­la­tion­ship with the liv­ing, risen son of God, the liv­ing risen Christ.

You can­not have it both ways. You can­not be­lieve that Je­sus was as one writer de­scribes him, “Je­sus was a good man just like Bud­dha, Mo­hammed and our­selves. He was a good moral teacher, al­though we think his good morals were bad.”

Un­for­tu­nately there are those schiz­o­phrenic Chris­tians out there. Not just in our pews but an alarm­ing num­ber of them now fill our pul­pits. Men and women who give lip ser­vice to the creeds they hap­pen to agree with, but who deny the Christ of Chris­tian­ity.

Men and women who are mod­ern Ju­dases — they — will fol­low as long as it fits their agenda, but the minute a de­mand is made, they will cru­cify the one they claim to love.

Dr. John Pear­rell is pas­tor of Gate­way Com­mu­nity Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Cov­ing­ton, GA 30016. Or email him at john.pear­rell@gate­way­commu­ For more in­for­ma­tion visit the Gate­way Web­site at www.gate­way­commu­

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