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Who Do You Want In Your Church?

I’m struggling with something lately.

I’m trying to figure out what I would prefer.
(and to note, maybe preference is the wrong word choice here, but I’m trying to find out what we think constitutes being a Christian or following Christ, not just what we like the most)

A person who confesses Christ yet lives nothing like it. They party on weekends ridiculously. They sleep around. They live for the moment. They go to church but they go more out of an internal obligation rather than anything else. They are nice people, but really live nothing like Christ is Lord of their life.

Or

A person who confesses Christ yet lives nothing like it. They go to church every Sunday. They go to prayer meetings every Wednesday. They go to bible studies every Thursday. They go out with other Christians every Friday. They read their bibles and pray every day.

Or

A person who does not confess Christ but looks a lot more like Christ than the other two. They love people more than themselves. They are always helping people where they can. They don’t go to church. They are constantly encouraging other people all around them. They give one night a week to being on the streets talking and spending time with the homeless. They have a widowed mother living in their spare room for free.

What would you prefer? I know people that fit all three descriptions. This is the kind of stuff that messes me up about the sinner’s prayer and about decision cards. I don’t understand how Christians can be people who hate their neighbor but have said a prayer or come to a specific conclusion about something but someone who loves their neighbor is excluded until that prayer or belief is made. That makes no sense at all to me.

I hate more and more every day these saved/unsaved categories. I hate that I have lived my entire life thinking that I’ve made it and others haven’t. I hate that my entire faith at one point boiled down to a raise of a hand a prayer. I hate that for the most part many of us Christians would choose the first two people to be part of our church just because they said Jesus and the other one would be excluded. Can we really have the King without the Kingdom? Can we have the Kingdom without the King? This is what confuses me. This is where I am. I don’t even think I understand what salvation is anymore. It’s time to redefine my terms again soon I think.

20 Comments

  • scriptures points to this, only our grasping hold of the finished work of the cross… and believing it is finished,and that we can add nothing to it…that our own good works are as sick rags compared to the blood of christ. this is salvation. once we truely believe (believe and obey are the same word in aramaic) once our belief results in actions that result from that belief or mindset, then we are on the path that leads to christ-likeness. we are saved to do good works not by them. in the end yawah will be our only judge but remember he tells us that MANY will stand before him in that day expounding their good deeds, and works of charity. his answer will be for them to depart from his presence. because he never knew them. they never knew him. no one willj stand before him in that day singing “i did it my way”

  • Your not a Christian… you hate too many things….

    On the other hand, your a christian because you go to bible school.

  • On more of a serious note:

    I think you have found yourself in quite a tight spot here. Pick any line you want from scripture and you can make anyone of those scenarios work (well maybe not the first.)

    I wouldnt like to be in a position where I have to decide, I guess thats why God is God and I am me. If you take it a step further. What about other religions? They do amazing things as well. Yet they just got the wrong God?

    Such a frustrating question. But I guess thats because we dont know our scriptures well enough some people might say. Let me know how you make out.

  • If by Church, you mean the Body of Christ, it sound like “Option B” or the second option actally IS the Body of Christ. Option2 is the Church. That’s what please the Father. I doubt God cares too much how much beer on drinks.

  • By church I mean body of Christ. Acting like Christ. Serving the poor, taking care of the widows, loving their neighbors.

    I was trying to exagerate the second one a bit to show that this person is stuck in their Chrstian bubble. They are not in the real world at all. They are tucked away safe and sound with a bunch of Christians around them and they have secluded themselves from the world.

  • Nathan, I prefer the third. But beyond which one I prefer, I would say the first two represent religiously lost people. The third one seems to be fertile ground on which to cast seeds. They also seem to be more the kind of person Jesus hung out with.

    Just my two cents.

  • That’s exactly what I was thinking Pernell, but then I still get stuck.
    What are we casting seeds for? Since they are already good people, now is it our job to make them decide to follow Christ? They seem to be already better discples then the ones that say they are following him? The third option is really the only one that I would enjoy being around.

    Though I would hope that we can help people in that third catagory realize how close they are following Christ and how much they are living that kind of life.

    The problem I guess I’m having is that what are we casting seeds to do? What do we want them to grow into? They seem to be extending the kingdom pretty awesome (and ya we all have room to grow more) but are the seeds just for a decision? Or is is to help them do those good things for the right reasons? What if they are the right reasons already? Do we go and ‘ruin’ that and try to shove Jesus at them and tell them that they will have life to the fullest if they just accept him? What if they are happy and content without him? Either way I want to be around them and learn from them, but I still get torn. It seems that they are doing awesome at being disciples of Christ without actually acknowleding it.

  • I’d want them all to come. Perhaps they’ll all get together and iron would sharpen iron.

  • I agree…I don’t think its a matter of who we’d prefer in our church. We are called to love each person, and they are all equally flawed individuals in need of a community that encourages them to embody Christ’s love and serve others.
    I would love to be surrounded by people in this third category. I’d love to learn from them, and I’d have a lot to learn. THey would certainly be a picture of what Christ would want me to be. However, I also think an authentic relationship with God is more than being socially minded. I know what my relationship with God has done in my life, and I believe that these people in the third category would only be further enriched by that. Knowing Christ is priceless. I believe that in order to truly be living for God my life would have to mirror these people in the third category, but I believe that knowing God is more than that. However, I believe that a Christian who is not embodying these characteristics in the third category is robbing himself and others and blatantly ignoring the life that Christ demonstrated for us.
    This post interested me because my youth group in Waterloo is working on transforming our bible study into a service group. We were sick of sitting around a table with other Christians discussing what we had been all our lives. Our vision is to have a community where both Christians and those who do not claim to know Christ can work side by side and make a difference in the lives of others, and in serving together learn from one another. These would be people who love others more than themselves, and who want to share the journey of their spiritual walk and life experiences with each other. I think that is the type of people I’d like in my church.

  • Good Point Maria, and sorry, i def should clarify
    (maybe preference is the wrong word choice here, but I’m trying to find out what we think constitutes being a Christian or following Christ, not just what we like the most)

    Great points also, also to hear that your group is doing just that. I know a lot of churches that won’t work with non-Christians or allow them on missions trips because they don’t confess Christ, but I think what your doing is really awesome.

    Thanks for the comment!! Hope things in Waterloo are doing great!

  • Hi Nathan,

    Interesting situation described, but none of the three “persons” represents what the Bible tells us a Christian *actually* is. A Christian is a person who confesses the truth about both the person and work of Christ AND lives a life representative of that true confession; ie. shows their love to Christ through obedience to His commands. Both are necessary. So I can understand your frustration in dealing with the ones mentioned above as it appears as if the reality of conversion id absent. Just my 2 cents.

    2) I got your email and will respond soon.

    Hope all is well….
    Darrin

  • The arguement is essentially flawed. A Christian is not someone who professes God and does good works like mentioned above and a Christian is not any of nathans pictures presented in the original post. Christians are persons who find thier joy and hope in the life, death, and ressurection of Christ. This means that we cannot confine Christians to any one social activity. helping the poor is essential but so is studying the word as people do in bible studies. Also we cannot rule out people who are stuck in thier “church bubble” because they could very well be the glue that holds that specific gathering of the body of believers together. Prayer as well as service is commanded and commended as spiritual gifts in scripture and so we need to realize that all those things (except blatant immorality) that a person does can glorify God. I think the issue might be raised due to a marrow view of the work of the spirit in the calling of the Christian to be sanctified and work towards the coming of the kingdom.
    So we must broaden our view to include various facets of the Christian expression and always be aware that the true mark of the Christian is that he/she finds joy and hope in the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

  • “because they could very well be the glue that holds that specific gathering of the body of believers together”
    just a thought, but shouldn’t that be Jesus and not a person like you or I?

  • You have some very valid points. I see myself as a number 3 – for exception of the “looks like” part.LOL I come from a large Irish Catholic family – my great uncle was a priest at the university of ND for 60 some years so most of my family is die hard. Yet when it comes to the “love thy neighbor” part, its a no-go. Half of them are so hipocritical, I avoid them like the plague. Now ,me, I have my beliefs and although I do not go to church on a regular basis,I do treat people equally and try to offer correct guidance where I can. After all from what I was taught – it does not take going to a big building with tons of people to be in church. Church consists of 2 people or more its all in your heart whether it be in a building or on the sidewalk. As long as you are happy within yourself and you are greatful for the life the Lord has given you – he will put you were YOU need to be. Each life is different -there is no script to follow. Great post!

  • Nathan,

    I think, if you want a good definition of salvation, read NT Wright’s material.

    I think the reason believing in Christ is important is lost on us in some cases. This is because we either deny, or just do not see, the effects that worship has on people. By this I mean what the object of people’s devotion does to their behaviour. Isaiah the prophet said that people who worship dumb idols become dumb themselves. Jesus said the same thing. The people in the third category may do good things, but if we believe Jesus/the prophets at all, we have to know this isn’t the end of the story.

    For example, if someone is motivated to do “good works” because it makes them feel good about themselves, they are worshipping an idol. Eventually self-worship will express itself in depraved behaviour. The discrepancy between this fact of human nature (you become what you worship) and the apparent goodness of these people arises maybe because we don’t see these people all the time, or sin takes time to mature, so at earlier stages the effects of idolatry may not be obvious or we don’t want to acknowledge their sin because we practice the same thing (or any other situation where our own sin blinds us to theirs), etc.

    Obviously none of this makes the other two examples good. The first one will not inherit the kingdom of God, despite them calling Jesus their “Lord”. The second one could probably go either way, but we do know what Jesus does with lukewarm Christians and with hypocrites.

    I’m with Tom, I guess, in the end. Accept them all, target all their respective faults and encourage their respective good qualities.

  • [A person who does not confess Christ but looks a lot more like Christ than the other two. They love people more than themselves. They are always helping people where they can. They dont go to church. They are constantly encouraging other people all around them. They give one night a week to being on the streets talking and spending time with the homeless. They have a widowed mother living in their spare room for free.]

    Saved by his/her good deeds?

  • The point I’m trying to make is not that they are saved by their good deeds, in fact the opposite. Is one saved by coming to the ‘right conclusion’ or by saying a ’30 second prayer’

  • You are coming at it from the wrong point of view. one is not saved by his actions, whether it is a decision make in his conciousness or an action done physically. nothing we do saves us it is only the grace of God that does that. And in response to “Jesus holds the church together” Jesus is part of the trinity (one God) and therefore the spirit working through the human to effect the will of Jesus to keep the church together is the work of Christ himself. But we are partners in this endeavour not spectators.

  • Maybe Calvin was on the right track a bit eh Nick?

  • I am so hungry right now

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