Well, over the years I have been blessed by many cross-cultural friendships, as well as having my own… foreign mother. Filipino to be exact 😉 haha
Though I was born and raised here in the U.S., my heart is equally Filipino as it is American. I am greatly torn between two cultures that I love. In a perfect world, surely I would be living in the Philippines for at least several months out of every year.
Anyways, that being said. I feel like I have a good amount of experience (for my age) with different cultures and also how these cultures react to Christianity. What you are about to read is a conversation that I had with one of my twitter followers a while back. (I have changed the user’s name for privacy reasons). It’s a conversation that, to me, seems very typical for a young adult American who claims to be a Christian.
NOTE: I want to say beforehand that this is directed towards those who already consider themselves followers of Christ. I understand that not everyone who may read this is in fact a Christian, and I want you to understand that if you are not claiming the Lord’s name as your Savior.. then I certainly do not hold you to this standard. Either way, Christian or not, I care about you and your relationship with the Lord. I also am in no way trying to say that I am perfect and have it all figured out. The Lord has been SO patient with me throughout my own sins and struggles. My heart behind this conversation is not to condemn, but to make sure that if we are claiming the Lord’s name, that we are representing Him to the best of our abilities. I strongly believe that there is a huge difference between a struggling Christian (as we all are) and a “fake” Christian, one who claims to be a follower but has no interest in actually living a life that reflects Christ’s teachings. God will be the ultimate judge though… he alone will be the one who decides who is a true follower and who is fake, not me. My hope and prayer though is that this conversation will make you think and consider where YOU are in your walk with the Lord.
Me: The Bible’s requirements of inheriting Gods kingdom are repenting & turning from past sin, believing in/living for Christ! 🙂
Hannah: Yes, as long as the word “believe” still means “trusting in, adhering to, and relying upon” Jesus.. then yes. Some people think that simply believing that He existed without changing their lifestyle is enough though.
Adam: You can believe once and get eternity.
Me: Sadly, that is just not Biblical, I wish it were This life would be so much easier wouldn’t it? If we could just simply believe as a child that Jesus died for our sins.. and then live the way we want for the rest of our lives here on earth. Jesus speaks against this a lot though. Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Also he uses an analogy for all those who choose to stop following Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 7:16-20: “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
He is talking about even “lukewarm” Christians. American Christianity doesn’t preach this often, but the Bible is very clear that “only those who do the will of the Father will enter heaven”. And what is the will of the Father? To love Him. Because if we love Him, we will keep His commands and we will share His love with others! 🙂 Jesus says in John 14:1 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
We also see in the Bible that simply “believing” in our head about Christ, but doing nothing about it (not sharing the Gospel with others/not living for Christ) shows that our faith is “dead”.
James 2:18-24: “But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
God also talks about those who will not inherit the Kingdom..
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
BUT Christ leaves us with HOPE and forgiveness to all who choose to repent and follow Him in the next verse! 🙂
1 Corinthians 6: 11- And that is what some of you WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
God is so good and can forgive anyone. He has certainly forgiven me of my past sins and mistakes. I’ve been washed clean and am a new creation 🙂
Adam: Romans 10:9-11 KJV. Saved. Sealed. Sins eternally forgiven. It kind of sounds like you’re saying you are saved by works.
Me: No, you’ve missed the point. We are certainly not saved by works. That is what the Jews still hold on to. Many religions believe that we can some how earn God’s grace and if we’re “good enough” we’ll make it into heaven.
This is not what any of those verses I listed are saying. What they ARE saying though is that faith without works is DEAD. Because let’s face it, God knows our hearts and if we TRULY believe. If a Christian TRULY believed that if their family/friends don’t accept Christ, they will go to Hell… then how much would someone have to HATE someone not to do everything in their power to share Christ with them? To SHOW Christ to them.. ? If we truly believed the Bible.. we would do something about it, not just keep it to ourselves.
No. No amount of works will save us. But we ARE required as Christians to repent of our past sins, turn from those sins and not do them again, and then tell the world about Christ. Yes, Christ can forgive any sin and will continue to love and pursue us for the rest of our lives. But many people abuse his Grace as a license to continue sinning. Christ says though that those who are disobedient will be “cut off”.
I mean, you just quoted one of the best passages of teaching in the whole Bible. Did you read the whole chapter?? The verses right before it and right after it are ESSENTIAL to the Christian faith.
Verse 5 “Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”
He’s saying, if you TRULY believed, you would LIVE by them.. that is what it means to “believe”.
Verse 8 “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim”
Again, if we truly believe… we would cherish God’s word, it would be written on our hearts and we would profess it with our mouths ^^ Psalms 119:11 – “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Verse 10: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
So this verse.. it says that the belief is in our heart.. not our mind. Head knowledge about Christ is NOT true belief. True belief is when someone accepts Christ in their heart, repents of their past sins and chooses to live their life for Him thereafter. Living our life for Christ is NOT a works based faith. It is simply true belief. If someone really believes in Christ, they would WANT to obey His commands. That’s what Jesus says over and over again.
Ever heard of a Fan verses a Follower of Christ?
A fan of Jesus may know facts about Christ.. may cheer him on from the sidelines. But then continues to go about their own life, not caring really about what Christ says unless it’s a Sunday.. but a follower of Christ is different. A follower spends time with Christ personally. A follower is intimate with Jesus, listens to His teachings, tries to live their life for Christ, trying to please only Him. He says this is a *requirement* if we want to be his disciples:
Matthew 16:24 -Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Sadly, we have very few Christians trying to deny their flesh these days. “Christians” don’t look any different than the world anymore.
Romans 12:2 – Do NOT be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 Peter 1:14 – As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance..
Christians are called to be different. We are not saved through works. But if one is a TRUE believer, then works will naturally happen.. because a person who loves the Lord will WANT to share with others what He has done for them. A true believer would be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will transform a person to become more like Christ. That is how someone can tell if someone truly “believes”.. not someone who just claims to be a Christian. But someone who is trying to live their life for Christ.
Hebrews 10-26-31: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there NO LONGER remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has INSULTED the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Adam: I’m saved by grace, no matter how I act. I just don’t agree with you, it’s all good.
Me: You know, I know we’re not going to agree on everything. Everyone has their own opinions, yes. But I was really hoping that we would see eye to eye at least when it came to the Bible, because we are both Christians. We simply can’t change what the Word says. This isn’t “my opinion”.. I quoted Scripture… this is GOD’S word? Do you believe the Bible is the word of God? To deny what the Scripture says about turning from sin and living for Him would be to deny Christ. You said that “I’m saved by grace, no matter how I act”, but this simply is NOT Biblical.. I really am not trying to be that “holier than thou Christian”.. I really DO care about you, even though I don’t know you. Like I said, I’ve made many mistakes in my past.. but I have REPENTED from them and turned from my sin. However, if I were still doing the things that I did before I was saved then I would be disobeying Christ. I just don’t want you to go down a path that doesn’t lead to God..
Because he says over and over again that it DOES matter how you act! I mean, if you can provide me a passage in the Bible that says you can continue living in sin, I will look into it. I just know the Bible doesn’t say this.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must ALL appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Please take theses verses seriously, and pray about it. My dear brother in Christ, Adam, please please take this seriously. I mean it when I say I truly care. I’m not just trying to smack you with the Bible… I will also pray for you tonight. And I mean that, I don’t take prayer lightly! 🙂
So there you have it, our full conversation.
Though this does not necessarily represent American Christianity as a whole,
I do think it represents a good majority of people in the U.S. who claim to be Christian.
Around the world, I’ve observed that people who are raised in other cultures take the Lord’s words more seriously.
Many people are willing to DIE for Christ in other countries.. but we in the U.S. are barely willing to LIVE for him.
Complacency is a real struggle. I know, trust me. It’s a daily fight!
But please, fellow believers in Christ… let’s stop making excuses.
It’s time we take our Lord and Savior seriously.
He gave His life for each of us out of love.
If we truly understood the price He paid for our sins on the cross..
our lives as followers of Christ would look radically different.