Last week, while waiting on a game to start, I asked a few friends and relatives about their faith.
“Tell me, no jokes, why are you a Christian,” I asked.
After I was lovingly berated for starting such a conversation minutes before a game, my circle got serious and answered proudly, boldly.
“Because I believe Jesus is Lord and He died for my sins.”
This was basically the consensus, but of course I had a follow up. As Christians, what is our motivation? Are we fully committed to what it means to be a follower of Christ?
Are we all in?
Ok, so you believe Jesus really is the begotten son of God. You know that he has atoned for all sin. Now, you just want to share this awesome news.
How far are you willing to go?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Romans 8:36
In the Bible, believers were willing to die and suffer all kinds of persecution for the faith. Jesus’s disciples were some of the first to suffer for the gospel.
Peter and Andrew were crucified. Thomas was stabbed (speared). Matthew was stabbed to death. James beaten to death. Matthias was burned alive. Paul was beheaded. And these horrifying killings were just a “drop in the bucket” of people who died all because they were “all in” for Christ.
In some parts of the world even now, our brothers and sisters are being oppressed because of their choice to follow Christ. Christians in China, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkey are still being crucified, imprisoned and beaten all because they try to worship Christ, all because they refused to deny Him (Aid to Churches In Need 2017).
Some of us won’t speak up because we are afraid of what others may say. Some of us are afraid of losing money or status. Some of us cower at the idea of being ostracized for our faith.
Would you be willing to take a beating or worse all because you are a disciple of Christ?
Beware of the Gateway Gospel
Our purpose should be to deliver the gospel of Christ unabridged and unapologetically. Now, some people may start out with the express intention of sharing the gospel. But, if they are profiting, be it monetarily or by popularity, it is easy for the message to become lost. It is so simple for the enemy to tarnish the purity of the mission, even if it means abandoning the gospel altogether. This is how cults are formed.
The truth is taught but lies and deceptions are mixed in with the truth making it hard to spot at first. The cure for this is to study the Bible on your own.
…but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Regardless your motivation, be it for good, for the love of Christ or for self. If the gospel is being preached, God means it for good. In Philippians Paul wrote to the church about others taking advantage of his imprisonment and persecution to preach the gospel. He warned that they may be doing so out of rivalry and some may have been teaching the gospel of Christ out of goodness. His point was that regardless the motivation, Christ was being preached and in that he rejoiced (Philippians 1:15-18).
Now dear beloved friends, the people who are hearing and believing the gospel through these teachers’ selfish intentions or humble intentions, are saved and their reward is in Heaven. But the black hearted ones…well…
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Lost in translation
Years ago, when I was a new Christian, I was part of a few social media groups and chatrooms where the purpose was to share the gospel. It was like an online Bible study, if you will. I was eager to share what I learned and in turn, also allow others to edify me.
Sadly, the groups quickly became a breeding grown for confusion. The “believers” frequently got into heated debates that quickly escalated to a virtual brawl. I rarely saw kindness just brash comments stamped with “the gospel of Jesus Christ” in a futile effort to make them righteous.
It was heart breaking. So, I left.
Some people use our faith as a platform for their own selfish motives. It may be for endorsements, to get paid, or to make a name for themselves. Some are just wicked enough to jump into it just to stir the emotions of believers by playing to their beliefs.
Whatever their motives, I hope it is worth it. We will all have to answer for the work we have done here on earth. But I beg you my dear brothers and sisters, to remember our true purpose. Hold in your hearts, our reason for being a Christian.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.