Is it even possible to be a Christian? I guess before asking this question I need to ask; what is a Christian?
Being a Christian has to mean more than just believing in something. It has to be more than just mental ascent to certain doctrines. It means actually following Christ.
If being a Christian mean following Christ; aligning your life with Jesus way of living then it means a lot of things. It means being just like Jesus. It means someone who loves, is patient, who heals and restores, is kind, is truthful, is never self seeking, always does what is right, and seeks for the restoration of the world in all he does. Is that even possible?
Just the self seeking part sounds impossible to me. Christians always do things for themselves. They either do it so they can go to heaven or “store up treasure in heaven.” Selfishness has become a huge aspect of modern Christianity. Why do we become Christians at all except to save our own hides?
What about the restoration part? Aren’t we the ones who are screwing up the world anyway? For every restorative thing I do, I do ten more destructive ones. I can’t keep up with my own messes let alone anyone else’s. This is especially true in America. Every church building we build is another orphanage we could be building in Romania or Haiti. Every potluck we hold is another meal that could be shared with the hungry people sleeping on the street around the corner. The meal you ate last night could probably have fed a child in Sudan for a week. We can’t keep up.
As for the healing part, how many people have you prayed for and then watched die? How many times have you watched someone just come back to life from death? How many sick people have you touched and then seen them become healthy? How many healings have you witnessed? For me it’s none, of course I’ve heard stories but never have I been the cause for such healing. And unless you’re Benny Hinn I’ll bet you’re in the same boat.
According to this definition I’ve met few if any Christians. Nobody I’ve met is just like Jesus.
So maybe there’s something else to being a Christian; something beyond action and belief, beyond what we do and what we say, beyond what we can produce. Maybe true Christianity goes deeper than our failure. Maybe it actually weaves itself so deep within us, so deep beneath our skin that it’s actually in our blood. Maybe what we can produce is not what defines us. If it is in our blood then failure doesn’t take it away. It circulates through our bodies inhabiting the deepest places within us.
Maybe that is why suffering is so important… could it be that it is through the spilling of our blood that Christ is revealed fullest? Our identity flows in our blood and what would identify us more with Christ than with the spilling of blood. If we are the body of Christ then blood is what gives us life. Christ suffered for the world, spilling His blood. His body was pierced and beaten. He defeated death by the spilling of His blood. When we, the body of Christ, are Crucified with Christ then the cross doesn’t have the final word. Death has been defeated.
Following Christ is all about blood.
I think your questions about healing and dying and their relationship to prayer are good ones. I think they show our American/Western level of faith in the Living God. I think they say something also about timing. I have yet to pray for anyone to rise from the dead, but I have prayed for people to be healed and they have been. I know others who have done the same thing. We have also prayed for many who have gotten sicker and died. Now the question comes up, was it my faith that was lacking? the faith of the one who was prayed for was lacking? both? neither? what about God's timing? I believe the people of the church are called to build orphanages,yes. And heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and proclaim the good news of the kingdom. People are to be set free. These things are happening across the world in places where the western mind-set is less prevalent. And no, they are not done only by televangelists. You are correct that it is all about the blood. The life is in the blood, the blood of Christ. He makes it all possible. This is also why he has sent his Holy Spirit so we may all participate in the expansion of his kingdom. It is also highly likely that persecution and perhaps even bloodshed will occur to us because we are not greater than our master. This too is happening to Christians all over the world because of their faith.
I have a few thoughts...
First, the word "Christian" as you know, means "Little Christ." I don't really interpret that as "idential to Christ" in the sense that any human is ever really ABLE to BE Christ... we are not able. We are mortal - He is not. So, when I consider the notion of "being like Christ" I don't think of it in terms of perfection - I think of it in terms of redemption. I am redeemed BECAUSE of the blood shed on my behalf - and now, because I am redeemed through Christ, I can, if I so choose, live the KIND of life He lived - helping, loving, serving, etc. Yes, the meal I had last night could have gone to a needy family. But it didn't - and there is nothing wrong with that. I don't feel the least bit guilty about not having sent my meal to some needy family. Why? Because God has called me to also tend to the needs of my own family. And not giving my food away in no way indicates that I am a "weak follower" of Jesus. In fact, send food in a box to some third world country is EASY, if you think about it... what's harder is actually getting up off my butt and GOING TO that third world country and living them among the people and serving them on THEIR turf, with THEIR water and THEIR resources... or lack thereof.
The Christian life is not ever about guilt. It is about grace.
Beware, faith like this might kill ya! If you believe like this, you might just really be compelled pick up and carry a cross. I am impressed. A conviction that I live in comfort while my neighbor suffers is a start. A willingness to suffer with or for my neighbor or for the will of God is a step further. Taking on that call to suffer is well on your way... Few Americans claiming to be Christian get to the first part.
However, criticism that this line of thinking inhibits joy is something I take seriously. I do not have that all ironed out. But, I will note that so often that criticism comes from quarters that are all too often too happy to claim the name Christian without suffering. -Not always, necessarily, but too often.
Thanks for the challenging thoughts.
Post a Comment