Back “home,” most all of the people I was around on a regular basis were “Christians.” Here, it is exactly the opposite. There are very few people I have met here that would claim that name. However, moving here and being around lots of people that I might not otherwise be exposed to, or friends with where I came from, has been a very eye opening experience.
The people here who have been the most friendly and welcoming, treated me with the most kindness and offered me the most help, range from simply calling themselves “spiritual” to “atheist.” I think of what Jesus said: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
Contrast that with the few people I have met here who call themselves “Christians.” Some of them are the ones who have been the most unkind, dishonest, deceitful and done me the most harm since I’ve been here. I think of what Jesus said: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)
He also said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
It is so sad that very few people in this world who claim to be “Christians” actually follow what Jesus said (which is the number one reason those who don’t claim to be Christians give for not being so). I believe the commandment to not “take the Lord’s name in vain,” means much more than using it as a swear word. How many people take the name “Christian,” but live their lives in ways that do not follow Christ’s teachings?
To those who have hidden behind the name of Christ in order to deceive and hurt myself and others, I say, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)
To the rest of the body of Christ: we are living in the very last days and of those days, Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (Matthew 24:14). Notice His use of the word “most” – yet very few Christians think they are in the “most” category.
Jesus also said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)
So if you call yourself a “Christian,” my challenge to you for this upcoming 2015, is James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Read the New Testament (especially the red letters) and don’t just be a “Christian,” be a “disciple of Jesus” (which means to follow and learn the actions and teachings of another with the sole intent of emulating them.)
And by the way, Jesus also said (in Luke 14:26-27 & 33): “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Count the cost my friends – it is EVERYTHING, but it is SO WORTH IT!