There is something I have noticed since I became a Christian that, as I have studied and learned more, worries me. Being honest, it makes me legitimately mad when I see it happen. It's when people preach the gospel, they only preach the easy half that will make everyone feel nice and welcome and consistently leave the other half unsaid. To truly understand the gospel you need the whole thing, that means that we also need to tell people they are sinners and need to be saved to begin with, not just that Jesus loves them as they are. I believe that college is the main root of this problem but I will leave that for another time, the main thing to understand here is that only giving half of the gospel leads to a ton of problems that we are seeing clearly today.
In our time, there is an insane number of people supposedly falling away from the faith, and those that don't fall from the faith barely care about Jesus at all aside from having a get out of Hell free card. There are plenty of people trying to figure out why this is happening but I believe the reason is simple. The majority of people do not hear the full gospel, including many that call themselves Christian, and because of this they have no roots. They never understood why they needed to be saved in the first place, or how much Jesus truly loved them when he died for them. Most of them go on thinking of themselves as good people who don't need to change a thing as long as they say Jesus's name a lot, go to church, and pray sometimes. This can lead a person to later question God on how He could send "good" people to Hell, "just for not knowing him," rather than understanding that Hell is something earned. We live in a time where people tell you that you should be a pastor just for having even a little biblical knowledge and some charisma, which is only a show of how little of that knowledge the majority of people have.
The fact of the matter is people aren't falling away from the church, they were never really there to begin with, they just acted like they were based off what little they knew. They don't know how evil they actually are, they have no idea what it even meant when they put their trust in Christ. Very few of them have repented of anything or even bothered to really get to know Jesus, they just blindly accept whatever other Christians tell them they should think.
The easiest way to get to the bottom of whether or not someone is saved is to test their theology and ask them if they're a good person. If they answer, yes, there's a solid chance they've never had their sins confronted. A nice method to try is what they do over at Living Waters, and tell them you have a test to see whether or not they are good, then ask simple questions like, "Have you ever told a lie?" followed by, "What do you call someone who tells lies?" They ultimately convict themselves in the process.
The next time you share the gospel with someone, make sure you tell them why they need to be saved before you tell them how they can be.
When people think of modern Christians, they think of two things: The ridiculous Christians who only preach about going to Hell for basically breathing, and the reverse of that, the ultra positive Christians who like to pretend Hell either doesn't exist or isn't that big a deal if it does. Today I want to talk about the ultra positive Christians and what Jesus would actually think of the way they handle things, because the reality of being a Christian is actually more the middle ground between these two types.
Now when I talk about ultra positive Christians, I am talking about the people that can look at someone sinning right in front of them and smile like they didn't do anything. The kind of people that don't really bother with the bad news of the Gospel where they would tell you that you're a sinner, instead they just talk about how Jesus loves everyone, no matter what. They're the kind of Christian that will respect your beliefs, regardless of what you believe, and just want you to learn about Jesus by spending time with them. In most cases, this type of Christian will never actually bother to preach the Gospel at all, lest they offend someone. They like to think that people will come and ask them questions so that they won't have to do anything awkward. This is the Christian that cares more about being positive than actually getting people saved. Everything they say and how they act is pretty appealing to people, but it does not get people saved and it is not how Jesus acted even remotely. To show this, well I will just let Jesus speak for himself.
Here's what you may consider Nice Verses:
And here are what we'll call the Mean Verses:
These are just a couple examples of each but it is actually far easier to find verses where Jesus is being mean (by our standards) than it is to find him being nice. People around Jesus liked him when he was performing miracles for them but shunned him whenever he preached something they didn't like. Very few people actually wanted to be around Jesus for anything other than physical gains, proven by the fact he was crucified by the same people he came to save. This is something we need to understand because, in general, I find almost no one actually acting like Jesus did. If anything, even I am actually too nice when you consider how Jesus spoke to some people. He could be very harsh and very nice. Even when harsh though, he was always kind, because kindness isn't just acting nice, it can also be doing something that someone needs even if they don't like it. That is what Jesus did the entire time he was here. It didn't matter if it meant being stoned or applauded, he was always going to do what was best for the people around him and in his case, every person who has ever existed. Sometimes that means getting mean with people and telling them things they don't want to hear. The Gospel has two parts, the bad news that we aren't good people and we don't deserve Heaven, and the good news that Jesus died for our sins because he is merciful and awesome. Without the first half, the second makes no sense, but if we focus on being positive you only ever get the second and a lot of false converts. It also makes it almost impossible to correct bad theology because everyone is afraid to judge each other, but it is something that needs to be done.
We can always do our best to be nice, it doesn't have to be insanely harsh when you tell someone something they don't want to hear, but it still needs done. As Christians, we are called to do exactly that, bringing more people to Christ and holding each other accountable so that we can grow in our faith!
P.S. We are actually called to judge. People that think you aren't allowed to judge anything are ripping verses out of context and ignoring several verses telling us how to go about it righteously! Remember to read all of Matthew 7, not just the first 2 verses.
There is something that I always enjoy when I meet new people and it has become pretty consistent. It doesn't matter if it's a Christian or otherwise, everyone seems to think that I was raised Christian.
I was not.
Now technically I was, my family is Catholic and I went to Catholic school until 9th grade, but not really. My family more just believes in their own god and have no concept at all of the true Christian God. Plus by 5th or 6th grade I already considered myself an atheist along with both my brothers. I later considered myself to be agnostic as I got older but I still acted like an atheist. I made fun of people that believed in God, acted like it was a joke or a flaw in any person that believed. I was nowhere close to being a Christian, I was actually the opposite. Despite that, I was even foolish enough to consider myself moral until faced with the ten commandments that I barely knew anything about. Fun thing about Catholic school, they never had me read a Bible and neither did my parents, so it was all very new to me. I fought it hard, not wanting to believe that I was wrong my entire life and definitely not wanting to accept all the rules it would entail. But I did, after many arguments and basically constant talking for a month, I became a Christian when I was just turning 20 years old. At the time of writing this I am 25 years old and still growing, but I want to talk about where I started at 20 to where I am now at 25. Hopefully you will all be encouraged by it, knowing that even with how bad I was, people now think I was raised knowing Jesus!
When I first became a Christian I was almost exactly the same as my old self. I sinned in all the same ways, the only thing that had changed at that time was where I was going when I died and my willingness to admit that I believed in God. I can't say I really knew Jesus then, or even a fraction of what I know now. It wasn't a miraculous change where suddenly all my flaws vanished and I was the perfect Christian. Honestly I am nowhere close to that even now but I hadn't even started on the path back then. It took me months just to stop taking God's name in vain and 2 or 3 months to ditch pornography completely. Cursing took a little longer but I got rid of that habit as well. I started reading the Bible 5 chapters a day and made progress faster than people expected of me. But I didn't stop watching shows that were riddled with sexual content. I continued watching things that had that sort of content for several years even after I knew it was bad. I still had anger problems which made me feel about as far from Christian as possible. Considering the Christians around me were perpetually nice. These are just some examples but honestly I have sinned in just about every way possible and it took awhile for me to stop doing all these things. On top of all this my faith was immediately attacked since Satan likes to uproot people while we are just starting to know Jesus and the Gospel. My brothers basically interrogated me on why I had converted, my whole family treated me like I was insane. My oldest brother to this day thinks he is trying to save me when he talks negatively about Christianity because he thinks I got indoctrinated. I knew basically nothing, I couldn't articulate the things that had convinced me to put my trust in Jesus and so I just felt stupid and rushed off to Hannah to find out the answers. It was not a good time for me, and if you had met me then I doubt anyone would have thought I was Christian.
Today I still struggle with anger sometimes, but I have drastically improved and continue to get better at controlling it. I openly condemn anything that has sexual content in it and have written posts about it that would have made me angry to read a couple years ago. I never take God's name in vain and I don't curse. I have read the entire bible and even understand a lot of it despite feeling like a crazy person most of the time. I act very different from modern Christians but when I read about Jesus I see that I actually represent how he was better than the ultra niceness of modern Christianity. I don't generally struggle to give people the answers that matter, I have answered the questions so many times it is almost routine for me. In a few years I became a totally new person, and I don't regret it at all. It seems crazy to me that I used to be mad because I felt like the things I liked were being taken away from me. Now those same things are casually discarded and I don't even miss them.
It can be hard sometimes as a new Christian because you are going to see so many people that seem so much holier than you. Don't let it discourage you and keep walking the path that God has put in front of you. He can take the absolute worst person there is and make them something great just like he did with me. I preach his word to people and share the gospel with anyone I can despite being a very reserved person that usually barely talks. I even call myself a shepherd because I know that is what God has called me to be. I do this despite the fact I came from being the worst, and knowing absolutely nothing to tell people when they asked. Other people are going to tell you fantastical stories about how they changed 100% overnight and act like they never sin anymore. Don't let that deceive you into thinking that your conversion wasn't genuine. The real sign that you are truly saved is your intentions, if you live everyday for Jesus and always strive to be better and walk away from sin, you are almost definitely saved. I hope this aspect of my testimony has encouraged some of you, I know it can be hard sometimes but keep going and it will all get better so long as you put in the effort!
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.