If you haven’t already, it may help to read the first installment of this post. You can find it here.
What does a Christian look like if they are truly a Christian? In other words, how are they different from the rest of the people in the world? How should they be different? To continue following the Mack Truck analogy, what changes to the person take place after impact by the Mack Truck Gospel? Is it how a person dresses? Is it how they talk? Is it what they don’t say? Is it what they don’t do? Does the Mack Truck Gospel change them to become moral people? What image does a Gospel impacted Christian portray? Are they bandaged, bruised, or healthier and stronger (or both)?
These are important questions. For the past few decades, it would seem the face Christians have put on to the rest of the world is a face which aligns itself to specific causes and societal concerns. By this I mean it seems Christians are most outspoken and very concerned about abortion, marriage, alcohol, gambling, and right-wing politics. As we read the mainstream media, we read and hear stories of Christians who appear to be the group standing in the way of other people doing whatever they would like to do. Some Christians protest against liberal political causes. Some Christians militantly stand for the right to own a gun. Some Christians frown upon the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Some Christians lament against sexual immorality. The list goes on. Basically, it appears as though Christians infringe upon the rights of the liberty of others while prudishly standing by with their nose in the air. It seems if you want to do your own thing, you can bet a Christian somewhere is against it. This is the perception of non-Christians. If you don’t believe so, ask them. Or, read comments posted on blogs written by non-Christians. Is this the impact made by the Mack Truck Gospel?
Is this Christianity? Is this how the “Body of Christ,” the universal, collective group of people who claim to have faith in the Gospel wants to be known? Or, is there something better and greater?
It seems from the writings of the Apostle Paul there is something greater and more important than trying to change the morality in the society around us. Society was wicked during Paul’s time. Wretched. Yet, we don’t see Paul trying to overthrow the government or unfair legislation. He never complains about bad Roman politics. We don’t see Paul trying to change the immoral behavior of unbelievers. Paul didn’t try to change society or the course of politics because he knew life events and circumstances happening all around him were part of God’s purposes and plan. Paul has a confidence in God working all things for good. Paul’s aim is greater. Paul is a minister of the Gospel first and a citizen of Rome last.
As a minister of the Gospel, Paul’s focus is the heart of the believer. Paul knew those who know Jesus hear His voice and respond. Paul had one focus, one aim, one glorious object of his ministry. Paul spoke to the Gospel-impacted and Holy Spirit-indwelled heart of the believer; his own heart and the heart of fellow Christians. It is there, in the heart of the Christian, true change takes place. Paul understood with the heart one believes and is made right before God (Romans 10:10). Paul knew God promised to give His chosen people a new heart and a new spirit. God promises to remove the heart of stone and give replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19).
But, what kind of change takes place? What should we expect to be different about Christians? How does a changed heart impact our lives?
For too long in America, and other parts of the world, Christianity has focused on outward appearance of righteousness. “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, and don’t watch bad movies. Do read your Bible, do go to church, do pray, do be a good citizen.” I think you know what I mean when I say these things. Our mantra needs to change. Our outlook needs to change. Our understanding of Gospel impact needs to be aligned with Scripture.
More to come.