A few weeks ago, I saw a video in Buzzfeed about Christians confessing what they are and what they are not. At its most basic message, it is really uplifting. LOVE indeed is the most important thing!

Times are indeed changing.

But if I were to talk about my faith, I would highlight the fact that I believe in Jesus who has come for sinners like me (Luke 5:32). It is that act of love from the Father (John 3:16) that gave this gift— that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory required for righteousness and holiness (Romans 3:23) and that Christ’s work on the cross has given me a way back to God and has given me my righteousness rooted in His (1 Peter 3:18).

Yes, when [in the past] I was a porn-addict, immoral, selfish, proud, dirty, egocentric, sly, scheming, disrespectful, disobedient, suicidal, needy person — I was still welcomed into God’s presence through Christ.

This is what Christ’s ministry is: to save sinners from the clutches of sin, removing its sting, and giving them eternal life through Christ Jesus’ atonement. This whole “I love Jesus” thing doesn’t end with a sinner entering His gates of mercy — it leads to change.

THE PROBLEM
Like the video above, Christians today shy away from the other half of Christ’s ministry. Most Christians tend to focus too much on the LOVING part that they forget a beautiful detail in John 8:11, a direct quote from JESUS who was at that time talking to the adulterous woman:

Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.

This was probably the hardest command of Jesus, but it is also the most liberating and comforting command. Go and sin no more. Yes, the guy famous for “dining with sinners” and being “accepting” and “loving” still hated sin. You see, His kindness, grace, and love really allowed Him to bring sinners so close to Him… But that has something else in it. The same kindness, grace, and love is also able to transform lives and set people free.

Was He then advocating perfection? Be a Christian on a pedestal? Be holier than thou?

John 8:31-38, a few verses after His encounter with the woman, showcases Jesus talking about FREEDOM. Basically He was saying we are slaves to SIN, but because of HIM, we are set free, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed. The ministry of Jesus extends into the depths of our hearts, changing us, consuming us from the inside out, setting us free so that we will not be slaves to our own selfish, sinful desires.

I AM A CHRISTIAN,

BUT I AM NOT PERFECT.

I agree with this. I struggle. I fall. I have a record of when I failed in my commitment to purity in thoughts and actions, when I struggled and failed terribly in anger or disappointment — I still fail. But by the grace of God, I am being changed from glory to glory, making me want more and more of Him and less and less of sin. Like Paul, I have not attained it, but I press on towards that goal, that upward call for holiness (Philippians 3:12-14). I cling on to Christ who gives me strength to overcome and power to endure.

The New Testament acknowledges how great is the possibility of falling again — we will commit mistakes, we will struggle, we will fight temptations. We will have troubles, we will be persecuted, and living like Jesus is not necessarily easy. It requires our constant yearning for GOD’s presence in our lives, having been guided DAILY and moment by moment by the Holy Spirit our parakletos, to convict us of our sins, bring us to repentance, and enable us to change.

Christianity then is ACCEPTING,

but it is and should never be TOLERANT of sin.

COMPROMISING this is Christianity’s gravest, darkest problem.

CULTURAL CHRISTIANITY
If you buy the concept of cultural Christianity and allow it to be “accepting, tolerant, and understanding”, it is better call it a different thing. We get it — we need to share Jesus but we are bugged down by the fact that if we “force” our ways to people, it would turn them off.

I believe the Gospel never meant to follow culture. Back then in the early days of Christianity, Paul wrote about “becoming all things to all men” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Paul took the Gospel the farthest, converting Gentile nations into becoming believers of Christ. In all those places, he had to be able to connect to people, but none of his methods changed the content of his message. At that time, morality was a very big issue: people have sex with each other, exchanging sexual relations with both of the opposite and of the same sex, people were believing multiple “gospels”, people were dealing with the traditions of gods and idolatry.

It was a hard culture to penetrate,

BUT THE GOSPEL NEVER CHANGED.

We need the same conviction today. As the end draws near, Timothy 3:1-5 says:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power…

At such a time as this, we need to be firm on what CHRIST-LIKE LIVING is all about. Yes it is about love, but is also about pressing on; striving hard to reach that goal of knowing Christ, not just by the head, BUT by the heart; enabling us to live lives SET APART (holy) for GOD. Let grace change our hearts. Let Christ reign supreme that daily in our struggles we will be able to say NO to sin, turn down temptations, and live victorious lives for Jesus.

People who are free and joyful and peaceful and loving and kind and faithful and controlled — people like these will attract others, and they will still be able to evangelize. It would make so much sense to share Jesus in this context, than to continue being a SLAVE to SIN and tell others JESUS is okay with your sinfulness. I think that brings you in a different way of living.

Where do you stand today?

 

Writer’s Bio:
Paul de Vera works full-time in church as a Communications Coordinator. Before this, he worked in advertising agencies as a strategic planner. Aside from devoting time in ministry as a speaker, discipler, and church-event host, he randomly writes and shares his devotionals through his blog: themanwhowrites.com