Friday, June 16, 2006

Some Thoughts on 'True' Christians

I believe there is no such thing as a 'true' Christian. When fanatics use that term, they are trying to elevate themselves above all other believers. No one is more Christian than the next person. The difference between Christians is simply the strength of their walk with God, and only the person and God know how strong that is.

Knowing the bible, or doctrines, or answers to difficult questions does not mean that someone has a strong walk with God. The only human being on earth that knew all the answers was Jesus, when he walked among us as a human. Even his disciples didn't know all the answers! He constantly taught them, and others, as is evident in the Gospels. In fact, so many early Christians got the message wrong that the rest of the New Testament is nothing more than letters to the early churches that tell them they are screwing up the message of the Gospels!

A while back, I found myself beginning to hate Protestants because of a certain chat room... and I have never had a problem with Protestants before! I had to actually sit down and think out why my attitude changed back then, and when I did, I realized that my hatred wasn't towards Protestants, but towards the fanatics who give Christianity a bad name. They interpret the bible without any theological background or prayer (and without the Holy Spirit to guide them.) They make assumptions on scripture, twisting it to fit their own agenda. They judge everything that doesn't follow their own personal doctrines. They hardly attend church. They may spend hours pouring over their bibles, but they would never be able to spend more than a half hour in prayer... and when they pray, they probably only do it to ask God for something.

I'm not pushing the Catholic faith here, but it is the only faith I know. When we do our private bible studies, if we have a question about something we read, we can always tramp down to our parish and ask a priest. The priest, being human, can give his opinion of the verse, but he can also say how, historically, the verse has been viewed. The extra input and opinion helps to make sense of things. If there is still conflict, discussion is always welcomed. Priests are not perfect, and there have been a few who have come away with a 'question session' with me having a different outlook of their own. (Not bragging... but showing that we are all human, and sometimes our personal view on things is limited to just our own experiences.) I'm sure Christians can go to their pastors the same way, but I wonder how many of the bitter ones actually do.

I've met up with people online who have a shaky walk with God. Their walk used to be very strong, but over time, the relentless rants of chat room fanatics have seemed to have cast a shadow in their hearts. They are so repulsed by the actions of others, that they despise being associated with the words 'Christian' and bible.

I guess the only suggestion I can really give to people being influenced by the bitterness is... pray. I don't mean sit there and ask God to 'make things better'. Prayer is nothing more than conversation with God. Sometimes, all God does is sit quietly and listen, so you can use him as a sounding board. There's nothing fancy to it. You don't start out by worshipping him or telling him how much of a horrible sinner you are. You just talk to him, either out loud or in your head. There's a lot of times that mine start out with 'Okay, God, this doesn't make sense... got a moment?'. Honestly, God doesn't always answer. I can spend an hour mulling over a problem, just throwing out things that come to mind, and in the end, I still don't know the solution to something. But, I come away from the process feeling refreshing because I got things off my chest. I have a better grasp on the situation because I spent the time working on it.

God does answer at times, by the way. Sometimes it's just a gentle nudge in a new direction. Sometimes... and I know this is hard to believe, but... he does actually answer. It's a humbling moment, trust me. lol. I think the fanatics spend so much time judging others because they resent the fact that they have never felt the presence of God in any place other than their church sanctuary... and they may have never even felt him, and were caught up in a emotional (human) revival instead. Remember the Samaritan woman... she couldn't go to the Jewish temples and pray with the men. Jesus told her that God was not limited to a temple, but that he was everywhere, even in the mountains and along the road. He told her every sin she had ever done... because he is God and would know them. He didn't judge her, but spoke softly to her. And, he went on to speak about everlasting life. He gave her promise of the beauty of Salvation. Here was a woman who was shunned by her village (she went to the well alone, which means the other women of the village would not tolerate her presence with them!) Here was a woman who was a known harlot. Yet, after she spoke with Jesus, she ran back to her village and told them everything he told her. She spoke with such passion, having just had a long talk with God, that she convinced her village to come back to the well and listen to him. Her. A sinner. A harlot. A shunned woman. Yet, the village went to meet this Jesus, and listened to what he had to say. Jesus did not use Pharisees to spread the Word... he used people like you and me. Common, ordinary, somewhat confused people.

Don't let the Pharisees of Christianity make you doubt God. They may not know what it is to be embraced by him. Don't let their opinions make you hate the word of God. They cling to bible passages as Law, and use them to keep the masses looking bad so they can look good. Don't let their words make you bitter towards the Lord. They are perhaps bitter because they do not have a passionate walk with God.

Luke 18... it pretty much helps clear up doubts. You can read the whole thing, or you can read the one parable in Luke 18:6-14. It's a really short passage, but one that has always inspired me, personally.


(republished from an earlier entry, as I am still on vacation)

4 comments:

Michael said...

Thane,

Good observations. I believe the only way to use that term correctly ("true christian") is when contrasting an obvious false believer with the genuine. For example, saying "Hitler was not a true christian." You point out a problem within some ranks where people are judging others as not to be true believers based on their own theology. This is dangerous and hypocritical. For only God knows a heart.

Yes, it's ashame that people throw out the baby with the bathwater when they see Pharisaical christians. There's always a mixed bag but as Jesus said, "by their fruit, you will know them."

Thane said...

Amen, Michael.

Anonymous said...

Thane, I sit and listen to those in chat who consistenly trash those people they know are trying to do good and worship God. It is obvious, as you said,they don't have the Lord in their lives and they are too proud to go for counseling with their Pastor of Bishop.It has amazed me for years at the people who go to church on special occasions, for instance Easter and Christmas, and there is dust on their Bibles. Do they truly learn about their Savior? No! They also have no mercy or forgiveness in their hearts. How sad a life to live. I've also seen those in chat who become afraid to bear testimony about God for fear of being bashed for it. Is the Lord pleased about this? No! I'll continue to take my knocks and bruises,but I will never be ashamed of my personal relationship with God, nor will I deny the promptings that come from the Holy Ghost. I'm happy on my walk and will continue on. Biddy

AnthemToGod said...

Hi. Your words shouldn't just apply to things online but to life in general. There is a lot of hurting done in churches and more church leaders should reach out and put a stop to the way their flock treats eachother.