You are a Christian, you say; you attend(ed) church and you believe things that you learned there. Your mouth tells me you love God and his son Jesus, that is, after you’ve discovered that I say the same. You nod and smile when I speak of the Body and the study of the Word, and you offer enthusiastically non-committal responses when invited to church or prayer or Christian fellowship. Things like, “I hope I’ll make it this week!” and, “Yea, that would be really cool. I’ll let you know.” Despite your enthusiasm at the outset, I am disappointed time and again as I wait to see you enter the sanctuary or text you to find if you’re coming and hear that you had too much homework, overslept, forgot, or ended up not being able to make it. There are other priorities at that are higher on the list.
Those eyes that so readily light up at the talk of movies, parties, sports, video games, other people, and anything that brings laughter are quite dull and lusterless when the spiritual is brought to bear. Christ is spoken of and you bear it politely for a moment, turning the conversation back to more “present” matters at the earliest opportunity. The subject of life after death is one that thrills you little since there is oh-so-much to be filled with here and now. My excitement at a new revelation of who God is brings a strange silence to our conversation, as if you aren’t quite sure what a person is doing worrying about who God is at all. It’s not like it matters much to our day-to-day life.
You tell me that Jesus is the most important thing to you. Your life tells me your “care” for him costs you little and changes you even less. In fact, I do believe that even your closest confidant would be hard-pressed to discern the minutiae that differentiates you from all those who surround you. In fact, the people who surround you give me pause in and of themselves. I had been under the impression that those who loved Christ loved his people and desired fellowship with them, but apparently such things do not apply to all those who follow him. I see you out with several others who would spit in Christ’s face if he confronted them and you seem utterly at home. As if you are from the same family and speak the same language. Yet in a group of believers you seem to wear a mask that pulls your face into false pretense and bends your words into second-handed phrases that are crafted to fit the moment, borrowed from a dictionary of past church experiences.
I know we don’t know each other all that well, but I worry for you. Even from the small amount of interaction we’ve had I feel that if I compared what I see of your life to the Bible’s portrayal of what you say you are the two would not match. You are a Christian, you say. You believe Jesus came and died for our sins. You know your Bible. You do well to say and believe so.
But I call you a liar. Deluded at best. A second-hander who follows Christ when it’s convenient and smiled on by the majority of those around you.
Even devils believe and tremble. You say you love Jesus, but Jesus himself said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” In 1 John, the apostle echoes Jesus and says, “whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” and, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
You say much and walk little. I’m afraid for you, my friend. It may be that you have deceived yourself and the truth is not in you; that you are running a vain race, if you are running at all. To be honest, I’m not at all sorry if I’ve offended you. Better that you be offended at me than you run ignorantly towards your damnation. Please, take these words into account, particularly where they line up with scripture. I truly do care for you and urge you to examine yourself and see whether you are in the faith. Test yourself, and if you find you fail the test, do something about it! Plead with Christ to change you. Talk with me. Read the Word.
And though this may seem harsh, if you refuse to live a life that actually reflects Christ, please stop calling yourself a Christian. It makes him seem foolish, weak, and altogether something that he is not. It causes more people to “exchange the uncreated God for images created things.” For the sake of my savior’s glory I cannot let you bring dishonor on his name.
Please, consider what I’ve said. These are things of utmost importance.
In love and, by God’s grace, in Christ,
P.S. – perhaps this can say what I’m trying to: TRUTH