Do you ever feel like you’re constantly caught between the grey lines in your Christian faith? These may have been times when you were not really sure of what was right?
I know I have experienced these moments as a Christian living in today’s world.
Religion tells us one thing but our hearts (and perceived knowledge of God) usually tell us another. Some of the common areas may be on abortion, homosexuality, collaborations between Christians and non-Christians, consumption of alcohol and a few other things.
But then, the grey lines, though real and common are a dangerous place to be.
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”
“So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
This post came about following a recent uproar about a song collaboration between a well-known gospel singer and a popular secular rapper, with many Christians on different sides of the divide. I’m yet to hear this song and may never do but thought that it would be a good opportunity to touch on life and expectations of a Christian living in today’s world.
Before this particular song, there had been many others. Basically, we have had a history of secular artists singing what we term as ‘Christian’ songs. But then, Christianity is not a secret club or a religion open to a few. All are welcome!
However, the question you’re probably asking and want to know is ‘what is the right thing?’ or as I love to say, ‘what will Jesus do or say if presented with this?’
On some level, there are Christians who believe the gospel singer had no business singing with the secular artist, especially as they were “unequally yoked” and may give the wrong idea of what’s acceptable in the Christian fold.
While there are those who believe we shouldn’t judge and that the secular artist’s involvement may actually bring some of her fans to God. This side of the argument quickly reminds us that Jesus hung out with the tax collectors, Romans and ex-prostitutes.
There is probably some merit to these arguments but it’s always necessary to test these. I have highlighted three questions you need to ask and answer as a Christian living in today’s world:
1. Am I a true ambassador of Jesus Christ?
The Bible is clear that to be a part of God’s kingdom, we have to accept Jesus Christ, as our personal lord and saviour. Through salvation, we each become a new creation with a new body, which is dead to sin. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
It also records that as children of God, we are the light of the world and cannot (and should not) be hidden. See Matthew 5:14
This means to preach ( or shine the light), we have to be born again Christians. But the next question would be, what sort of light are we shining?
To this, Jesus says:
“In the same way, let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Which means sharing God’s word goes beyond what we say. It is also about what we do. How we live and interact with others. This is the expectation of the Christian living in today’s world.
In this same sense, the one who preaches or shares the word is an ambassador of Christ. And he or she has been called to reconcile others to God, even as they also live for God.
From the above, we can surmise that the ambassador is:
3. Living according to God’s word (this is not about perfection but understanding God’s grace and mercy).
4. Has a duty to reconcile others to God
Sharing God’s word goes beyond what we say. It is also about what we do, how we live and how we interact with others.
2. Where do I draw the line on judgment?
This question remains a sensitive one. It is often avoided or ignored and this may be as a result of our mortal fear of judging. I have seen many Christians fail to speak up about certain issues so it doesn’t seem like they are judging. This is also something I have personally struggled with as a Christian living in today’s world.
But then again, there has got to be a path through those grey lines, right? A path which could either lead us to the right or left but certainly not leave us in the middle.
The Bible tells us that one of the defining traits of a spirit filled Christian is the ability to discern. Now, this discernment leads to something, right? In most cases, it leads to a decision or in this case, judgement on a matter.
As I’ve grown older(in Christ), I have learnt and am still learning when to speak up and particularly the manner in which I should, which is also important. These are notable points for every Christian living in today’s world.
My constant reference point is Galatians 2:11-13. This was where Paul confronted Peter over Peter’s hypocrisy.
I have studied this scripture many times and one fundamental thing I realised was that Paul did not attack Peter but condemned Peter’s actions (sin). I believe we get it wrong many times because we focus on the person rather than on the act.
Lessons on Judgement for the Christian living in today’s world
I believe Paul spoke out in the midst of the other disciples because he realised that Peter’s act was also affecting those who looked up to him and there was a need to address it quickly and directly.
This also means that there will be situations where we need to be silent or address only the alleged culprits. Knowing what to do and the right action is something comes with walking in God’s wisdom.
Remember that Jesus in Matthew 7:1 – 5. admonished us not to judge. One of the reasons for this was given in John 8:15, it is because ‘we judge according to the flesh‘.
In John 7:24, we are told not to “…judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgment.”
This is hard but not impossible. As a Christian living in today’s world, I believe that our focus should be on the act not the person. When we use Jesus’ interactions as an example, it’s also good to notice that he always accepted and loved the people but will usually call them out on their actions. Case in point, the woman at the well.
True judgement is about speaking the truth in love. It is about walking in wisdom and ensuring that our words are seasoned with grace and not from a place of envy, jealousy or condemnation.
3. What is the truth according to God’s word?
I believe that this is probably the most important question for a Christian living in today’s world. As Christians, there is nothing more convicting than ensuring what we have chosen to believe or act on is the truth according to God’s word.
This means we have to seek the truth as it is the only thing that will set us free from the power of the grey lines and a lukewarm Christian life. John 8:32
But this is by no means an easy task.
It will require calling to the fore some of our long held beliefs about Christianity. These beliefs that have knowingly or unknowingly affected our views on who a true Christian is. That may have allowed us to make excuses for what we and others do. But more particularly, made us more accepting of what God has not accepted.
Going back to the earlier song collaboration issue and many other grey areas, the primary question we should be asking is whether God will approve.
Biblical Truth for the Christian living in Today’s world
A brief look at the Bible shows a pattern. Knowing and accepting God means that our lives also have to change to reflect this. I touched on this in question 1.
Our deeds have to glorify God. So, if we are singing the most spiritual songs and our lives have not changed then we can’t honestly say we are living for God.
Apostle Paul had some strong words for such people:
“They claim to know God but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
But this is not just about gospel artists and secular singers but about every one of us. It’s a reminder to check our hearts and judge our own actions.
Many times, we quantify our sin and believe our righteousness is tied to the magnitude of what we’ve done. Which is definitely not God’s way. Sin remains sin.
It is also a reminder that claiming to be a child of God or living for God goes beyond our words, no matter how nice and powerful they may sound. It is also about living a blameless life. Loving what is good and avoiding what is evil.
It’s about loving everyone, I mean every single person on God’s green earth and treating them well even when they don’t reciprocate.
It’s about delighting in the things of God. Make no mistake, God is love and living a life of doctrines and following the “religious laws” without love will get us nowhere. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Claiming to be a child of God or living for God goes beyond our words, no matter how nice and powerful they may sound.
Lessons in Grace for the Christian living in today’s world
Walking in love is all good but then, things will not always go according to plan. There will be times we will struggle. Times when the hunger in our flesh will win over the love in our hearts.
Times when we are so caught up in everything happening in the world that we lose sight of what is right and what God is telling us. At those times, our acts will be so far from what God wants.
Although, how we react in those times will also be a true test of our Christianity.
I believe this is the crucial dichotomy between the real Christians and those who claim so with their lips. Knowing we are fallible is no more a licence to continue in sin as is acknowledging our weaknesses.
Apostle Paul says it well;
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
I feel like this scripture is about coming to the throne of grace with a broken spirit and contrite heart, asking for mercy. It is in humility and understanding that we are nothing without God and can do nothing in our own strength.
It also requires that we move from the grey back to the white. We have to move from being a lukewarm people to hot blooded Christians ready to do His will.
I do not claim to know much about this particular secular artist or even the gospel singer and I certainly don’t know the circumstances that led to the song but one thing is clear, it is by our fruits that we are known.
And as Christians, we have to be mindful of the fruits we bear and the messages we pass on.
In closing, I want to acknowledge that God can use anyone and any situation to actualise his will on earth and he alone knows the true state of our hearts.
I would love to know your thoughts on living authentic Christian lives.