In my last post, I explained how I used to think Christianity was a crutch to prop up the weak, but then learned that the opposite is, in fact, true and that Christianity’s not for cowards. In any way.
But, I want to revisit the “crutch” argument, because though I don’t believe it, I actually kind of do.
Let me explain.
It hinges on what is meant by “Christianity.” When I refer to it, I mean actual Christianity as laid out in the Bible. You may think I’m stating the obvious, but a lot of false Christianities are being perpetuated, especially in America, that pervert – or outright reject – major portions of Scripture. It’s in our consumer nature to customize, and our faith is no exception, often being treated as a product that we can personalize to match our whims of the week. We’re not always comfortable with the Christian faith as the Bible defines from A to Z, or we simply don’t know what the Bible states, so we tweak – or grossly distort – it, effectively inventing our own faith. Which isn’t Christianity.
Pseudo-Christianity comes in countless forms, which I would never attempt to document. (That would require tens of thousands of pages – or more – and I actually want to build my readership, not shrink it to zero.) Typically, though, they all share a core attribute.
No personal transformation.
This is what an authentic faith in Christ inevitably leads to. We were all born corrupted because of sin, each of us struggling with an individual set of issues and temptations; but because Christ defeated sin on the cross, a sincere faith in his death and resurrection naturally instills in us a burning desire to abandon every sin in our lives and conform to the holiness of God by the power of his Spirit. Personal transformation is hard – often painful – but it is the essence of Christianity. As Jesus tells the forgiven: “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
Pseudo-Christianity, however, requires little to nothing of its followers. They may believe in God, attend church, speak fluent Christianese, and even pray in some form, but they don’t desire change at a core level. Sure, they may modify some surface behaviors – such as being more pleasant to their families and coworkers, mowing their neighbors’ lawns when they’re vacationing, and participating in the occasional charity event, ultimately achieving the goal of being considered a “nice person” – but they have not allowed God to drive them to their knees in total humility and repentance and then completely upend their lives, transforming them from the inside out in every possible way. They already think they’re doing quite well in life, having figured everything out, and that being a Christian or attending church is just an expression of their goodness (or niceness) and a public confirmation that they’re on the fast track to Heaven.
While I’m not qualified to determine the final destination of anyone’s soul (I’ll gladly leave that to God), I can tell you that if someone isn’t changing continuously and completely from the inside out, their Christianity is not the one defined in the Bible. I know this from personal experience, having grown up in church and adamantly professing to be a Christian, but never knowing or reading Scripture, and consequently never changing – or even intending to. I just believed that because I was a good person (a belief that is actually laugh-out-loud absurd to me now), God was cool with me and I’d high-five him in Heaven one day. It wasn’t until I became an adult that he so convinced me of my own sin that I finally cried out in humble repentance and surrendered my life to him.
That’s when the total up-ending of my life began and continues to this day. (Praise God.)
Before that, though, I was openly practicing pseudo-Christianity, despite calling it Christianity. It served as that proverbial crutch to hold me up, because I was weak and just wanted to believe that I was going to Heaven as is.
But I was wrong. A Christianity that doesn’t inspire or challenge an individual to surrender himself to God’s Spirit, allowing himself to be transformed so he can radically love and serve God and his people in every possible way at every possible time, is a dead faith.
If a person isn’t willing to change, then what’s the point of even living?
The Bible has a term for this: “lukewarm.” If you want to see what God thinks of the lukewarm Christian, read Revelation 3:16. It’s not pretty. (Divine vomit is involved.)
It takes courage – which God will provide – to change. Cowardice, however, is when people don’t allow themselves to be in humble in self-reflection, truly searching their hearts and God’s to know where they have been corrupted and need to be restored; it is using a personally customized faith as a crutch to prop themselves up and give them comfort in their eternal destination.
So, while Christianity’s not for cowards, pseudo-Christianity is.