Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Double Cone with Sprinkles on Top...Please!

Look around you. How many Christians do you know? A few? A dozen? More? How can you tell they are Christians? What is the difference between them and your other friends? Are they kinder? More loving? More generous? Or are they just like everyone else....but mention Jesus every now and then?

What does God expect from us as Christians? What does 'Christianity' mean anyways?

Christian: One who thinks the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. Ambrose Bierce

The church has failed to follow her appointed pathway of separation, holiness, heavenliness and testimony to an absent but coming Christ; she has turned aside from that purpose to the work of civilizing the world, building magnificent temples, and acquiring earthly power and wealth, and, in this way, has ceased to follow in the footsteps of Him who had not where to lay His head. C. I. Scofield

The true call of a Christian is not to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Dean Stanley

A certain sense of cruelty towards oneself and others is Christian; hatred of those who think differently; the will to persecute. Hatred of mind, of pride, courage, freedom, libertinage of mind, is Christian; hatred of the sense, of the joy of the senses, of joy in general is Christian. Friedrich Nietzsche

If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul. Isaac Asimov

Christianity has been buried inside the walls of churches and secured with the shackles of dogmatism. Let it be liberated to come into the midst of us and teach us freedom, equality and love. Minna Canth

Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. Mahatma Gandhi

Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men. Voltaire

The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty, but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes. It does not make life easy; rather it tries to make us great enough for life. James L. Christensen

Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than going to the garage makes you a car. Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Everyone has a personal opinion on what being a Christian entails based on their own experiences. I think some people believe a Christian is someone who, out of reverence for Christ, refrains from activities they see as 'bad'. So they believe a Christian is someone who tries to be 'good' or do good things. For them, a person is behaving as a good Christian if they don't drink, do drugs, gamble, or have sex outside of marriage. If a person claims to be a Christian and stumbles in any of those areas, they are seen as a hypocrite.

Others believe that a Christian is someone who believes that Jesus is the son of God, and that is enough. They live their lives just like everyone else, but they sprinkle Jesus in here and there. I envision their lives as a big ice cream cone. Everyone's life is an ice cream cone. But they cover their ordinary cone with rainbow sprinkles. The sprinkles consist of some witty religious t-shirts, maybe an emblem on their car, maybe a few scriptures posted through their house, or a Bible they carry to church on Sunday. Maybe they sprinkle their cone with some worship songs. But their lives are no different from that of others. The ordinary ice cream is still there. It is merely covered by a dazzling array of Jesus-colored sprinkles.

When I was a little girl, we used to go by Friendly's for an ice cream cone in the summer. I always wanted sprinkles on mine. Sprinkles were special! But I discovered that covering your cone in sprinkles doesn't change the flavor of your ice cream. They don't sweeten your cone. They only change the way it appears. They are only a deception - a camouflage to make it appear as something greater than it is. The ice cream underneath is just the same as everyone else's.

To me, Christianity means Christ follower. It is not something one does. It is who they are. To be a Christ follower doesn't mean you attend a church and know a few passages from the Bible. It means you follow Christ. It means that you not only allow Christ to be your savior, but you allow him to be your Lord. And it doesn't end there. I believe to follow Jesus, you then pick up your cross. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Mark 8:34 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 I believe he wants us to serve him and to serve others. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me. John 12:26 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:17 He wants us to be different from non-Christians. He wants us to live differently, not live the same merely covered with sprinkles. He wants us to stand out in a crowd. And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:17-24

We must change the world's perception about Christianity. We must change the way we act, and the way we live, in order to portray a more biblical way of living. It is not enough to believe in Christ, and to study his words. Me must put them into practice. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

We must learn to pursue Christ instead of pursuing fleeting dreams. A friend recently wrote about the 'American Dream' . I admit I have been hesitant to respond, as I believe the pursuit of the American Dream does not enable us to take up our cross, or to serve others. The pursuit of the American Dream is the pursuit of money, success, and possessions. I don't think any of those things are bad. The problem is that it's pursuit often becomes a set of blinders, causing us to focus our attentions on a single goal. It blinds us to what is going on around us. It blinds us to the sufferings of others. It funnels our vision toward our goal, and toward ourselves. It frequently becomes our master, and we often change our circumstances to serve that master instead of Christ. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:24

I think that in order to be the type of Christian that God desires us to be, we need to sprinkle our Christ-sprinkles throughout our ice cream. They may not be immediately obvious to the average observer, and people may not be immediately dazzled by our outward appearance as they would if we were to coat our ice cream. Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 But they are sprinkled through every fiber of our existence. They touch everything we touch, and they influence everything we are a part of. And if you were to dissect us, a part of Christ would be visible in each individual piece.


Starr said...

That is awesome and I agree 100%! We were discussing that very thing tonight during One Heart's Bible study. There is a great big difference between having Christ as your Savior and having Him as your LORD. A lord is someone whom you serve. Someone you obey and look up to. Someone you have a relationship with. Not just someone you know casually. I sure hope if I am examined carefully by someone else, they will see "sprinkles" of Him in every fiber of my being. That is my goal, anyway. I sure see Him in you, girl!

Ann said...

Thanks for taking the time to write these thoughts....it definately gives both Christians and non-Christians something to think about.