Why Are You A Christian?

Why are you a Christian?

I ask that knowing that everyone who reads this article is not a Christian. For those of you who are reading this who do not claim to follow Jesus, I have this to propose. Christians are much better people when they are actually trying to be Christians. So if you could challenge your Christian friends to be better Christians, the world would be a better place. There is nothing worse than a lackadaisical or lukewarm Christian. Unfortunately, many Christians are lackadaisical and lukewarm in living out their faith. We all struggle with falling in that rut at times.

This happens when we forget why we are Christians.

So back to you, my Christian friends. Why are you a Christian?

Some might argue that there is a right answer to that question. We are Christians because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, and established His church to bring about God's will here on earth. All true, but that's not enough. Something opened up that core teaching to you.

What made those truths real to you? Was it someone who showed you love when you felt undeserving? Was it a truth that just clicked? Have you just always grown up in a Christian family and have known no other way? Did you have an amazing roadside experience like the Apostle Paul? Whatever the case, one path doesn't make you better than others. What matters is that you're still heading down that path.

It's easy to cling to some rituals and traditions and think that we are a Christian because we participate in them. I go to church. I take the Lord's Supper. I give my tithe. I do this or I do that. The rituals of baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the like, although important, are not what God is after. He is after the changed life that both practices should instill.

In the Old Testament, the Israelite people used to offer up burnt sacrifices. Burnt sacrifices are crazy to us.  In sacrificing the best of our flock to the Lord, we would also lose all of the opportunities to breed him. That is a costly sacrifice. Why sacrifice something that would be beneficial?

If we don't have an element in our Christian walk where we give things up to God, even when they don't make sense like a burnt sacrifice, then we are not walking with God. If we don't have an element of stepping out of our comfort zone and doing illogical things for God, then we are not walking with Him like we claim to. We're just walking with a God that we have made in our image. A god of efficiency, practicality, and pragmatism. An American god for a powerless American religion.

Do you realize that the word Christian actually means "slave of Christ?" If you knew that you were to be Jesus' slave, would you still choose to be a Christian? The conversion message is typically watered down. Come forward and get baptized. Raise your hand and say a prayer. How about become a slave to Jesus? Would things in your life change if you took seriously the call to be a slave of Jesus?

Many believe that the label Christian, which was first given to followers of Jesus in Antioch, was given out of derision. They mockingly said, "You're slaves of Jesus!" But the Christians responded, "That's great! Yes, we are slaves of Jesus." Ever since, followers of Jesus have been known as slaves of Jesus. Except we've forgotten that slavery to Jesus is what being a Christian really means. We've lost the meaning of the word. We confuse following Jesus with being a good member of the PTA, helping out in the community, or doing some other good act of service. We mistakenly think Christianity is some moral code or a framework to make us good citizens rather than enslavement to Jesus.

We like to ask the question, "What do I need to give up to follow Jesus?" Instead, with the burnt offering concept in mind, we should ask, "What would it take for me to completely follow Him? What would it look like for me to be His slave?"

What would it look like if I changed my retirement plans into what Jesus would have them be? If instead of living for myself, my family, and the dreams I always had, I invested myself into a radical, crazy, commitment to follow God? What would it mean to my business if I decided to use it to completely follow God? What would it mean to my job, my family, my whole life, if I decided that we were going to be who God wants us to be in every circumstance?

The outward form of obedience to God is merely a sacrifice. The inner form is whole devotion from which outward sacrifice comes naturally. We can have sacrifice without whole devotion, but in doing that, we have ritual with Jesus.

Bob Dylan once wrote a song that said, "You’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody."

I think we forget that we have to serve somebody long after the routine of being a Christian sets in. Time begins to fog up the reason we went down this path to begin with. We forget the difference we chose to live for. We become complacent, beaten up, and disillusioned. We forget the dreams that God laid on our hearts. The hopes of restoration and blessings. In the midst of keeping the rituals, we miss out on God's plan in our life.

God has called each of us to something greater than just being routine Christians. He's called us to be His slaves. Slaves who will join in our bringing his kingdom on to this earth as it is in heaven.

When was the last time you did something for God that didn't make sense? When did you last follow Him?