When Authentic Christian Life isn’t that attractive…
Let’s face it… Sometimes the Christian life isn’t all that attractive. It’s easy enough to say “I am a Christian” and enjoy some nice worship music, motivational bible verses, and a good sermon every so often, but when it comes to living an Authentic Christian Life, that’s another matter entirely.
Non-Christians see it as obvious that we probably shouldn’t be quite so “free” with our drinking, gambling, and use of colorful language. They see us as hypocritical when we are tightfisted, competitive, and judgmental. Christians know it too, but we get defensive about it. All too often we think if we are supposed to live in this world then we have to find some way to fit in, to get ahead, or to maintain non-Christian relationships.
Live in the world but not of it.
I used to think this phrase meant that I had to find a way to fit in with the world and make my home here while still trying to serving God.
I used it to justify everything I did to fit in and to make sure I made a few waves as possible. (I also used to think this phrase was in the Bible and tried to base my life around it like it was the Golden Rule.)
The day I realized I was wrong, my mind was BLOWN!
We aren’t created for this world, we are created for heaven.
We aren’t created to fit in or to comply with societal norms, we are called to stand out, to rise above, and change societal norms.
But that is NOT attractive
I don’t want to be different, to never fit in, to be hated, to be labeled, or stereotyped – and worst of all, I don’t want any of those things to happen to my loved ones because of me.
If I want to be a Christian, why do I also have to be a wet blanket? Why do I have to be deemed a “religious fanatic” that “can’t have fun”?
I thought self-respect, self-love, and self-care were important… How could a life of service and forgetting myself ever make me happy?
Also, while we’re on the topic… Why would I ever want to go to heaven if it is nothing but wearing a white garments and bowing in front of a throne for the rest of my life? (To be perfectly honest, that sounds a little awful.)
Why would I continue to serve if it is all pointless self-abasement in service of a rather “egotistical” God?
Besides, I don’t understand God…
Why would God threaten me with HELL if I don’t want to do everything He tells me to? I thought He was loving. Doesn’t it seem a little vindictive, tyrannical, and needy?
I’m pretty sure this “I don’t understand” part is where most Ex or Non-Practicing Christians got before they gave up and turned away – or decided to believe in the fluffy, anything-goes version of Jesus instead.
Why can’t God just be happy that we acknowledge Him and say we love Him?
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven… – Matthew 7:21
Can’t He just be proud of my efforts? Why does He have to be so demanding?
Why would I ever fully choose something I just can’t understand?
Because, I still want it… at least a little bit
I want Jesus (hypothetically, when its comfortable).
I want heaven (eventually – as opposed to hellfire, I guess).
I also really like the community, sonship, favor, forgiveness, and feel-good…
And God IS all those things…
But, if we only take what we want and leave the rest, how genuine does that make us?
Are we truly loving God, or are we only loving ourselves?
Read also: How genuine is my Relationship with God?
He’s a take it or leave it kind of God.
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” […] As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” – John 6:60-67
He does not conform to us. He does not lower Himself to our standards, but raises us up to His.
Doesn’t that make God controlling?
Why does God try to tell me what to do?
He tells you whose you are, what you are made for, what is bad for you and what is good for you. You decide what you want to do with that information. You are welcome to choose to ignore it.
Sometimes freedom looks like cruelty.
In the garden, God told Adam and Eve what was good for them, but let them choose.
If we have the option to choose “wrong”, we wonder why it has to be wrong… But, if we didn’t have the option, we wouldn’t be free.
Because, it’s not about choosing between “right” or “wrong”
It’s about choosing between God or Self
“You certainly will not die! …you will be like gods.” – Genesis 3:4-5
Adam and Eve took the fruit to become like gods themselves….
The New Adam was accused of doing the same.
…he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. – John 5:18
Christ Jesus, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. – Philippians 2:5
Why choose God then?
If it is all about self-abasement and pain, humility and obedience – even for God Himself?
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. – Isaiah 53:2
Perception does not equal Truth
Our perception can be accurate, but that is not always the case, nor is it likely when we are talking about the perception of things we do not understand or cannot know. Just because we perceive something to be unattractive does not mean that it is.
Christ’s acceptance of the cross was willing, even joyful (not giddy, but peaceful and deep). This is because pain does not exist in love.
We can only feel pain when we dwell on ourselves.
There is no self in love, therefore there can be no pain. Physical sensations will always be drowned out by the power of spiritual ones, but we have to move beyond the level of the physical.
Because we were not made for this world.
This world is not God, it is only His image. It is beautiful and glorious only when we recognize it as His reflection. When all that is in it points back to Him, instead of to itself.
We long for perfection
But self is imperfect. We think we have to fill the longing ourselves by pursuing ever greater pleasure in this world. But, this world is empty and it can never fill us.
It is not possible to fill a longing for perfection with anything less than God.
We long for Love
Because we were made for love.
God’s love was so great that it could not be contained. He only made man to share in His love.
He made man so He could dote on us. So he could give us this giant garden (Eden) with everything and anything we could possibly want, including the possibility of not wanting Him back. He made us so that we could be happy.
God wants us to have whatever we want
This is why we have freedom.
The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6
He isn’t selfish in His anger that we choose against Him. He is only sad that our bad choices hurt us. He is disappointed that we choose to ignore Him when He tells us what would make us happy.
He just wants us.
He just wants us to want HIM.
This is the Authentic Christian Life
All the rule following, obedience, service, worship, and self-sacrifice stems from this – a simple love for God. A simple wanting Him back.
The Christian life is not ABOUT whether or not you should drink, swear, or be open to life. No, it is the other way around – all those things are simply about loving God! Without loving God, without UNCONDITIONALLY WANTING HIM BACK, everything else means nothing. But, when you love God, somehow the “rules” just fall into place. They become desirable and beautiful… and anything less becomes unthinkable.
This is where we find Happiness
Because it is where you make sense.
Anything else is like being a human and trying to live comfortably on the moon or under water. Yes, it is possible. We can lug around heavy oxygen tanks and wear protective suits and masks all the time just because it is “more exciting” to live on the moon or in a submarine… but, honestly, I’d rather be able to breathe, to feel the sun on my skin, to not have to walk around with my guard always up.
When we stop fighting God, we have nothing left to do but bask in the love, and receive all the good gifts that He is just dying to dote on us.
But it sounds so far out…. so different from what the world tries to tell me
Is it really that crazy though?
He created you, His you are – He knows you better than you know yourself. He made you and knows exactly what He fashioned you to be perfect at – not to force you to do that thing but so that you would simply find great, deep, and intense joy in doing it.
So, today I choose an Authentic Christian Life
I choose God’s plan over my own.
Because I am created.
He knows me better than I know myself. My life is about discovering His masterpiece – not building it from scratch (unless that’s the way I want it).
And because I am created out of love.
There is no hidden agenda. God just wants me to be perfectly and deeply happy as He is happy – and He knows what will make me so.
It’s not about service or even adoration.
He just made you because He wanted you…
Do you want Him back?
- The Role of Religion
- How to Process “Catholic Guilt” (Coming soon)
- Ten Things Parenthood has taught me about God
- How Genuine is My relationship with God?