I recently had an opportunity to speak at a Chapel service in a State Penitentiary. It is something I have truly begun to love to do.
The topic was a something that I think American Christianity is really struggling with as a whole right now.
It all started with someone quoting Romans 10:9 “ If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” That made me wonder this… If all these different people have declared Jesus and “believed” then why are things continuing to get worse?
I mean we have plenty of churches, and still well over a majority claim to believe in Jesus. So, what is the problem?
As I was searching the Scriptures to seek what was going on with this verse, the Holy Spirit led me to another verse. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus is talking to Peter about a Church that will not be conquered by the gates of hell.
Peter has just identified Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and Jesus says something kind of strange. Jesus says that it wasn’t man who told Peter who Jesus was, but instead it was God the Father. From there Jesus goes on to tell Peter “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
I believe that this is where American Christianity has gone astray, which has led to the current state of the American Christianity. Basically we have created a false Jesus. At the core I believe that the battle that we are all facing, including me, is that we have been told that, “You can have it your way!” for so long that we believe this is true for Jesus also.
The reason why we are far too often getting our rear ends handed to us, by the powers of darkness, is because we don’t really understand the revelation of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God.
I have way too much of a tendency to treat Jesus as if His last name is Christ, instead of understanding that Christ is His title not last name. He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
As I am beginning to understand more of what that means, I am also beginning to realize what this means for my life… My life can’t be the same after I give it to Jesus.
I have been thinking a lot about my life and how it looks in light of Scripture, and to be honest, it doesn’t look good.
It is way too much about me… This is what continued to get Peter in trouble also. He struggled for quite a while after that moment in Matthew 16. He made a lot of mistakes, and he said a lot of foolish things.
However, once the Holy Spirit showed up and gave Peter a fuller revelation of what Jesus, THE CHRIST, meant, Peter began doing greater and greater works.
However, it took a lot of breaking down in Peter’s life. It took a lot of mistakes, hurts and blunders before Peter finally realized that He couldn’t have Jesus and his old life too.
So, that is where we are. Most of American Christianity does nothing to challenge people to grow. They don’t expect people to really be any different after meeting Christ, than they were before. Unfortunately, that is just not possible.
Jesus cannot be the Christ of my life, and have my life be the same worldly life that I lived before.
So, I have a choice, as do you. I can keep Jesus as Jesus Christ. Just like any other friend that I hang with when I feel like it. Or Jesus, THE CHRIST, who changes every part of my life for the better, and eventually causes me to look more like Him.
This is really is what Christianity is all about.
The word Christian was first used in the Antioch Church. It was a derogatory comment about believers. Because, they believed so strongly in Jesus, THE CHRIST, that they behaved like “little Christs”. They gave up their lives, their dreams and their future to live for Christ.
At the end of religion, that is where relationship begins. When I begin to believe so strongly… That my life looks like a reflection of Christ!
Until then, the gates of hell are going to have a lot of fun in my life.