Christians tell lies. We tell them to each to each other, to ourselves, and to non-Christians or “outsiders.” The lies I’m referring to are not the intentional deceit or malice that we see in the world around us. They are not “stab-you-in-the-back” lies. (Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that many Christians do offend others with these types of lies at times. Those are simply not the ones I’m writing about.) The lies I’m referring to are actually worse…because they have a larger impact on the world…and what is really alarming is the fact that we buy into them and believe them ourselves…
What is it we are lying about? What subject or subjects are we not being honest with? We could think of many. My list is not at all exhaustive. It simply consists of the things that I thought were highly prominent within our culture. I want to also mention that I don’t think these lies are told or accepted with evil intent. I believe the real reason for these lies is that of absolute laziness. This laziness is twofold. First it is laziness in the area of simply reading the Bible. It’s not that hard and with the plethora of study Bibles and Bible study materials we are inundated with within the Christian social framework, this is inexcusable. One of the most common objections to reading the Bible is the old, “I don’t understand it,” excuse. When I pry into what particularly someone does not understand, it turns out that they either decided they didn’t understand it before opening it, or they were only trying to read the King James Version (which is beautiful, but let’s face it; it’s in 17th-18th century English, and that not of the common vernacular of the day). I will acknowledge that there are challenging parts for even the most learned scholar to interpret. BUT, the critically important parts are clear. The overarching truths of man’s fall into brokenness and God’s redemptive plan in Christ are abundantly clear. Secondly, it is laziness in the area of critical thinking. Most people don’t want to think for themselves as much as they simply want to regurgitate what they have been taught and/or handed down. So many of the things that have been taught in the church or even home regarding Christianity are simply not biblical.
Having set up that premise, let me move forward with the first of the lies the that Christians tell.
LIE #1: “All you have to do is believe.”
This is perhaps one of the most dangerous lies we could ever tell or accept. Years ago, this type of thinking was branded as, “easy believism.” I’ve been associated with the Southern Baptist denomination for more than 15 years now and I can honestly say that I’ve heard this or things similar to this for the entire time. Whether it’s found in a Gospel tract or at the end of a preacher’s sermon, we love to make entrance or initiation into Christianity so simple and easy that it’s much more acceptable to those that hear it. There is merit to this. The good side is that we are not complicating the Gospel with information that will simply confuse people. Also, we are making sure to stay true to the reality that Christ has taken care of all the work so we don’t have to accomplish anything on our own. This is the essence of the Gospel and it is vitally central to the Christian faith. So then…how is it a lie? It’s a lie because even though on the suface it looks like we are talking about the same thing as who accomplished the work of redemption, we are not. This statement is not about who accomplished the work. It’s about how we must respond to that work. This is a vitally important distinction. It needs to be clearly communicated that the Bible never says that we must simply believe, intellectually or existentially, that Jesus reconciled us to our Heavenly Father. Repeatedly, however, it tells us to repent and believe…oh…and Jesus also said, “Follow me.”
…there’s a pesky religious word…”repent.” This word has been used so much that it has lost its meaning. It means to change directions. It means to stop from the current direction you are heading in and change courses. One cannot change courses simply by believing something. Action is required. The required action in response to the Gospel is to follow Jesus. What does that look like? Well, to first century followers, they understood full well that they would not follow someone they didn’t believe in. They understood that their lives would be forever changed. They knew that their decision would require faith and action. (Thank you, Dr. Blackaby for pointing out this reality.)
The most recent study I could find regarding this shows that nearly 71% of the population of the United States professes Christian faith==>Click me to read the study…this is a huge problem that has arisen, at least in part, due to Christians both believing and telling this lie.
The majority of our nation believes it is Christian…just let that sink in. Think about the fact that 7 out of 10 people are convinced that they have a personal relationship with God simply because of not being told the whole truth. James 2:19 explains very plainly that belief in God is not the same thing as having a relationship with Him. That relationship is founded upon the truth of Jesus and our response to that truth. I’ve met a lot of people that fully accept and believe what the Bible says about Jesus of Nazareth. But they had no relationship with Him…because they aren’t following Him…they know about Him propositionally…but they don’t know Him personally. Here’s the reality: Belief is based in intellectual or propositional knowledge. A relationship is based on experiencing a person and being on a journey with them through time and events.
One of the worst things we can believe is that we simply need belief to have our relationship with our Creator reconciled. Christianity requires that we receive the truth, believe it, and then act upon that belief. He is the one working out our salvation, but we must be the ones to react to what He has done and to follow Him with our lives. This will manifest differently in every life. To some, it will mean that they should leave a job, and then to others, a relationship or maybe a lifestyle. To all…it will mean that we are not the same as we once were.
There is not one single instance of a person in the New Testament that simply accepted this truth and then simply added it to their lives while remaining on the same course. All of them changed. Every. Last. One. Even though they were not changed completely overnight, there were still some radical changes at the outset.
Let’s ask ourselves about our personal condition regarding this lie…
Do we believe?
Or do we follow?
…to be continued…
Next up: “They’re in a better place now…”
Image taken from: http://www.justcor.com/lies/#sthash.i0qkUqcs.dpbs