“If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
This question pops up occasionally, and I used to hear it, and think; “what a great question, yes I think there would be sufficient evidence to prove I’m a Christian. I’m better than a lot of people, I’ve got my stuff together, I know the truth, and I try really hard to be good for God.”
Of course then reality would set in, and I’d slip back into that old sin that I just can not shake. Then my thoughts would change and I’d think “as long as they don’t find out about that, I’m good.”
The question that is the title of this little foray into my mind, is at it’s base a guilt laden attempt to make you feel bad. Usually those that use this question have the best intentions. The intent, I’m sure, is to make you examine your life and your habits, in the hope that you will try hard to better yourself.
The problem that I have is, the question does make you think a bit about your life and if you are truly honest with yourself, the only outcome of this self examination, is guilt. Because again if your are truly honest, the answer will be no, there is not enough evidence to convict you of being a TRUE Christian, if you only examine your works.
Here is my point, and if you’ve read my blog before this will sound familiar: you can NOT work hard enough to please God. The only difference between you and your “unsaved” neighbor is, you know you are forgiven. That’s it, if you are truly honest you will admit, generally speaking, you struggle with the same temptations and evil desires that your neighbor does. And again if you’re honest, you fail on a regular basis, just like your neighbor.
Now it is true that the more time you spend with Jesus, the more He changes you, but part of what Jesus brings to you is humility, in great abundance. So even if you hear the question above, your answer will be, I can do nothing to appear more “Christian” of my own accord. Any changes for the better, any “evidence” that would convict me of being a Christian is only manifested through the love of Christ, and is not possible if I try to do it of my own accord.
So the question “if you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Is by design only able to produce one outcome in a flawed human being and that outcome is guilt. So please stop asking this question.
If you are a Christian, it is the Holy Spirits job to change you and make you better. The only responsibility you have is to LET HIM and I’m not really sure that is even our responsibility. We are told in he bible that NO ONE would come to Jesus of their own free will, Jesus is the pursuer. If you belong to Him, He will chase you down, and He WILL get you. If He works that hard to get you, He WILL change you on His timetable, not ours.
So stop trying so hard to change yourself, just spend time with Jesus, He’ll do the rest. And if you’re asking people the question that is the title if this post, stop trying to manipulate other people, and just tell them about Jesus. Tell them that if they want there to be evidence that would convict them of being a Christian, then all they have to do is spend time with Jesus.
On a side note, manipulation and guilt are terrible instruments to use for instruction. Having spent the last 26 years involved in the martial arts and about 21 of those years teaching, I’ve seen about every type of instruction style known. There are good instructors, and there are bad instructors. The bad ones tend to use manipulation and guilt to motivate their students. The good ones teach with an honest open heart and are not afraid to show their shortcomings to their students. Even the most talented and skilled martial artists get thing wrong once and a while, the good ones will happily admit to their mistakes, and move on.
Manipulation and guilt will, at times, produce short term success or advancement in students, but eventually the student grows resentful of this type of treatment and either finds a different teacher or quits altogether.
This, in the martial arts is some times a good thing, but in the Church, this is never a good idea. So if your a pastor/teacher in a church, pay attention to your instruction. Does your teaching produce a feeling of guilt in your flock? Are you unintentionally manipulating the people you are trying to lead? You may have to ask some trusted friends in your congregation, but it’s worth it to find out. Always lead and end with love and the acceptance of God if you want to keep your people close to you and God.
Well, I feel as if I’ve been preaching, sorry about that, I’m not a preacher. I am however pretty good at studying human nature, and I see things, like this question, and they fester in my mind until I write them down. I don’t know if anyone will read this or get anything out of it, but my pea brain will not stop mulling it over until I write it out. So I hope this helps someone in someway.
Saved only by His grace.