If you step into the average church and polled the congregants regarding their daily walk with Christ, the responses you receive might initially lead you to believe there is very little wrong with Christians in this day in age. It could be possible to hear things such as, “I live for God daily” or “I am a follower of Jesus.” Upon further examination, however, we could perhaps come to the conclusion that these answers can far to often be surface responses that fail to enter into the reality of Christ-like living in today’s culture. This is a similar dichotomy to the sometimes thoughtless response “I’m fine” when being asked how a person is doing, without so much as considering the current circumstances in life that would prove that statement false.
There is an epidemic inside of our churches. We are far to often taking the road of masking life’s problem in order to portray a false sense of reality. It is an oxymoron that within the walls of Christianity [where honesty and integrity ought be in the forefront of our daily lives], this subtle-yet-infectious form of lying has grown to points we are numb to its effects. The result has been a gradual progression towards a way of life we were not called for. We are called into Authentic Christianity.
It is sad that our churches are sometimes the last places someone would go to be authentic. Rather than offering help, hope, and healing, we respond to a sinful world with disgust, condemnation, and blame. Additionally, we perpetuate this inauthentic way of life by masking our own lives from own another and going down a path of living in silo’s rather than in community.
In the book of John we read an interesting charge laid out for us. It says,
“But if we walk in the light, as he [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” John 1:7-9
There are several things that pop out in this passage. First, we are called to walk in the light. We are commanded to let our lives be transparent and vulnerable. Secondly, we are told that as we walk in transparent, vulnerable, and authentic Christianity, we will have fellowship with one another. Being authentic removes the shame of past sin and any desire to hide the redemptive work Christ has done in our lives. The latter part of the scripture gives us the broader view of our choices and leaves the final decision up to us. If we walk about claiming to be “fine” when we are not, we merely succeed in lying to ourselves. However, if we confess our sins, by living in the light and being in fellowship with one another, Jesus is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.
Sadly, this form of Christianity is not often seen. In recent years, there have been several noted pastors who have come out confessing in public their sexual sins. I vividly remember a pastor from Colorado’s media attention when he finally confessed his struggles. For Nyack students, it was slightly increasingly fresh in their minds, as only months before, this pastor was the selected commencement speaker at that year’s graduation ceremonies. Many were confused and questioned how a man like him could have committed such sin. Many were hurt. Responses ranged from anger and rage to sadness and lament. What was commendable through this all, however, was the stance his church took regarding the circumstance. Rather than condemning the pastor for the sin, they decided to walk with him and his family through the path of redemption and restoration.
It is as a moment such as that in which we see where our heart is. Those who questioned how he, such a prominent pastor and leader, could have possibly fallen in such a way failed to realize that no title or position can deny the truth that we are all men [and women] and are prone to wander and leave the God we love. There is no degree that can denounce the reality that we are human and have an ongoing battle between what our spirit wants and what our flesh wants. It is this battle that Paul writes to the Romans about. It is the constant war between what we want to do and what we actually end up doing.
I think that living out our faith in the midst of a broken world is less about religious practices and more about sharing the essence of Jesus Christ’s message. For years we have [perhaps] been taught that this could only done by preaching to someone. Perhaps this looks like a street evangelist who stands at the corner with a portable sound system loudly declaring the saving work of Christ on the cross. Maybe it is seen in the eyes of the elderly woman who gently slips a tract to a stranger on the bus. It can be found in the sounds of the street rally on a warm summer day: maybe.
It can also be found in the smile from a homeless man as he gets a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day.
It can be seen in the hug from a friend who consoles the girl who just had an abortion rather than condemning her for what she had done.
It can be seen in the unconventional way of conversing with someone at a bar on a Friday night because otherwise that particular non-believer may never openly talk to a Christian.
It can be seen in the way a woman responds to her daughter’s murderer by forgiving him and demonstrating the redemptive and restoring power of Christ through her actions.
It can be seen inside of the church,
but it can also be seen outside of it.
My charge to you is to seek out ways to live out your faith on a daily basis. Do not wait for opportunities to come to you. Take a step. Walk across the room. Shake someone’s hand. Smile at a stranger. Be Jesus to a broken world.