It feels so good to call ourselves “Christian”; we’re a part of a greater whole and meant to make a difference. Unfortunately the difference we often want to make is a cultural one rather than an innately spiritual one. This we must understand: Christ didn’t come to redeem society but people. Yet changed people will always result in a changed society. A person is changed only through repentance and obedience. Some try to explain away the necessity of repentance but necessary it is. When we see ourselves as we truly are then repentance won’t be hard, it will, in fact, be a swelling necessity to us for we all, each one of us, is vile indeed without Christ.
Obedience to God begins and ends in the love one has for God. If we love Him, we will seek to obey Him. This will be an active seeking, a digging deep into His Word so that we might know His heart. If we don’t have love for our Lord, we will find ourselves explaining away His commands or viewing them through a cultural lens. It is time for a heart-check when we find ourselves saying, “But God didn’t really mean….” or “Those teachings are so old-fashioned. The Bible must be interpreted in light of the times.” Sin in the first century is still sin today. God’s holiness doesn’t change and neither does His standards for His people.
If we are ever to truly make a difference in even one other person’s life (not to mention society itself), the difference must first be made in us. Living for Christ, by His strength and power, covered by His blood, made anew and forgiven, not only changes us, it changes our course, our direction; when we are on the pathway of righteousness, it is then that God can use us to bless and change others. If we aren’t changed by Him, He will use us to bless no one. When we find we still want what we wanted before our conversion we must then ask ourselves if our conversion was real. God is holy and intends to make for Himself a holy people; if we are not one of the holy, we are not one of His. When we truly are His, our holiness, our set-apartness, must define us: we will love what He loves and hate what He hates. One of the things we will hate is worldliness in any form whatsoever.
We cannot belong to Christ and have our affections set on the world. If we still desire riches to spend upon our own pleasures, if we find ourselves despising the authority that is set over us, if we find creative ways to redefine sin, our god is the god of the flesh not God the Father. David often asked God to search him, try him and see if there was any evil in him; we must be willing to daily do the same. Repentance must be a natural ongoing part of our life, each step taking us a step closer to godliness and righteousness. If we would please God, we must grow in His likeness and do as He would do. His canvas is the person He has redeemed, not the culture that person lives in. When we focus so very much on changing society, we forget the things that are to set us apart in the first place are those things that are in antipathy to the society in which we live. A God-centered life will lead one to martyrdom, either in this life or in our death for the cause of Christ; such things are rarely those which the élite of society are interested in.
When we focus on this world, we set ourselves at enmity with Christ; we cannot please both it and Him. Nor should we try for He will not have us under those circumstances and the world will think us both crazy and non-loyal (and why would they want us then?). In the spiritual sense allegiance to the world at all declares our allegiance to it overall; our allegiance declares where our affections lie and if they are to the world then they aren’t to Christ. When we seek to accommodate Christ’s teachings so that they are pleasing to the world, we have declared it to be our “Lord” rather that Him. Our failures in acknowledging Christ as our Lord in no way diminishes Him for He is Lord always and in all ways; however, it destroys us. Our allegiance declares the truth of our supposed conversion: in a word, we weren’t.
So we can call ourselves “Christian” all we want to for by God’s grace some of us really are; meanwhile we must remember that just because we say it, it ain’t necessarily so. We are either for Christ and His Kingdom and are willing to live all out in devotion to Him and to His teaching or we weren’t His in the first place. If we find ourselves focusing more on helping society make good choices rather than on growing spiritually so that we might make good choices ourselves, reaching the lost with the truth of God’s Word or helping our brothers and sisters to grow and to prosper (spiritually first and foremost) then we ought to be alarmed for our ways aren’t the ways of the One we claim to serve. It is then we must be on our knees in repentance and in seeking God’s truth and seeking to know if we truly are His…or not. At that point all that left to us is repentance. Then and only then we will be people of the Word and people whom God can use. And He will change us…one person at a time.