For the past few days, most of the posts that have been coming across my facebook feed have been about what our response, as Americans, should be towards Syrian refugees. After the attacks in Paris, my conservative republican reaction was to keep them out. Why do we want to even take the chance of bringing a terrorist into the country? I've read many posts from people that have been proud that their states have signed executive orders blocking Syrian refugees. Heck, I did the same thing just last night. When I woke up this morning, I read a blog that reminded me of something that I have been telling others for well over a year now, "We should be living as Christian Americans, not American Christians." The big difference? The former teaches to put others before ourselves, and the latter teaches us that making ourselves happy is the ultimate goal. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that to be a Christian, we must live a life without joy. It's more about where our joy comes from. As you know, there are many other parallels that can be drawn here, but that's not the reason for this post.
What we have enjoyed in this country, has also made many of us soft in our Christianity. We have taken freedom of religion, and have turned it into freedom "from" religion. We pick verses out of the bible to live by that are convenient to the American life that we've built for ourselves, but conveniently skip over the verses that might require something that would infringe on that same cushy life. You see, as Americans, most of us can't relate to the situation the authors of the New Testament were going through. Stoning...doesn't happen in America. Crucifixion...doesn't happen in America. Flogging...doesn't happen in America. We have these amazing freedoms from persecution, but what that has meant for many of us, is that we've forgotten how it all started. The 1st century church faced persecution on a daily basis. The threat of death was very real for them, and yet, they boldly took a stand to spread the gospel because they knew that an earthly death was of very little meaning, but eternal life meant everything.
Peter had a lot to say about persecution...
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." -1 Pet. 4:12-14
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Something that I have been thinking about recently is our identity in Christ and the world's perception of us. Very often we, as Christians, let our view of ourselves align with how we perceive that the world views us. We tell ourselves that we have to live a perfect life to be a Christian. At the very least, we try our hardest to portray that our lives are flawless while we stuff our perceived shortcomings in the closet. We think everyone else holds us to a higher standard, and we feel obligated (as good Christians) to meet that standard....all in the name of Christ! Our purpose becomes to portray what we think Christ looks like instead of letting Christ mold our lives into what it should like. So the world gets to see what we have effectively made an idol in our lives instead of an all-forgiving Savior.
Here's the truth....we're all the same. We were created by the same God. Psalm 139:13 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb." The difference is that, as Christians, we believe that God has paved a way through an endless map of an uncertain future. He's the light at the end of the tunnel. The answer to all of the world's unanswerable questions. But when it comes to living in this world, we are just as fallible as any other person. Why do we try to hide that fact? We WILL fall and fail. It's an inevitability. This doesn't mean that we cease continuing to be as Christ-like as we possibly can be, but in essence, we need to understand that there is very little of that action that we control. We control the decision to strive after this feat, but that's the end of our control...or at least it should be. Once we make that decision to continue to strive to be more like Christ, it is Christ who works in us and through us. But this is a complete surrender of ourselves. Something that many of us are scared to do. And this is where the title of this post comes in. So many times we think that the world can see Christ in us, even though we have covered Him up with all of the junk that we have wrapped ourselves in. What the world tends to see is a person that is saying they are "different," but they surely don't look like it. They see everything that we put on the surface, when what should be seen is the beauty that lies underneath. A beauty that has been molded through the years and through the currents of this life. All of the jagged edges. All of the craters. All of the broken pieces. All of the things that have molded your life. All of these things made majestically beautiful through Christ who remembers them no more. What is left is a person that is just the same as any other person out there with brokenness in their lives, but has been washed and made new.
So the next time you find yourself sliding into the easy path of flawless portrayal, make the decision to flip that iceberg over to let Christ show the world what He has made beautiful. Don't pretend that you somehow figured it all out on your own and continue to cover the beautiful person that you are. The beauty of Christ can, and will shine through you...you just have to make the choice to flip it over.