“There is a common, worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and they think they have enough – a cheap Christianity which offends nobody and requires no sacrifice – which costs nothing and is worth nothing.” J.C. Ryle
When the Pope visited the US recently, one of the funniest headlines I read was “People shocked to hear the Pope is still Catholic…” It was tongue-in-cheek and meant to be sarcastic, the point being that people are far more comfortable hearing wishy-washy opinions and feel-good messages than doctrine that requires us to take up our cross. When he took a Biblical stance on some issues, those who were getting comfortable with his perceived ‘progressive-ness’ were suddenly offended.
When Jesus said ‘take up your cross’ He wasn’t kidding. He said the world will persecute you, they will hate you even. There was a strange poll published awhile back that said that one-third of professing Christians claim that while they believe they are saved by Jesus, He really doesn’t play that big of a role in their day-to-day life. They were referred to as ‘nominal’ Christians – proud that they didn’t stand out, happy they don’t have to argue with people abut silly doctrines, content to be in the obscure background.
But ‘nominal’ isn’t a very flattering word. It means to be so small or slight and existing in name only. It isn’t a compliment. If we are living to put the world at ease and be comfortable, we have gone off track.
Jesus said the world will hate us sometimes. Our culture will take the truth, twist it up into something totally unrecognizable, and toss it back at us like a grenade. We can be shell-shocked and quiet, or we can do what we are called to do and continue in the truth with love.
Sometimes there isn’t much of a reward for standing up. Sometimes you will lose a friend. Sometimes it’s your life. I don’t believe for one second that any of our sacrifices go unseen in God’s eyes. This is His game, we play by His rules and let the chips fall where they may. I think in the end, we will find it far better to be a truthful Christian than an accommodating, nominal Christian. Jesus promises us that when we take HIS yoke upon us we will find rest (Matthew 11:29). It is the truth that sets us free, not hiding in the shadows.
“It is better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel and Paul said, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Adrian Rogers
There is a cross to carry. There is a burden to bear. The reward is that there is also unspeakable JOY to be had in standing up for Jesus and demonstrating His true character to a world that has turned unspeakably inside-out and upside-down. Let your Christianity be unmistakeable, not in a way that repels people, but in a way that draws them out and toward the true, living God.
Oh, well said! Long ago someone once called me a benign Christian, and intended it as a compliment, but it was a powerful moment of conviction for me. You know what else is benign? Warts, meaningless growths on the body, parasitic tumors that pose no threat. 😉
I’m laughing here, but those things aren’t all that attractive. Do not be benign, nominal, lukewarm. Be fierce and bold….and kind too.
Thank you for this! Sorry it took so long to respond! Be fierce and bold and kind. I love that.
You definitely nailed it. I’ve known people who said, “I want to come back to church, but they won’t accept my relationship (which happens to be an adulterous one). In other words, they want one foot in the world and their other toe dipped in the church. They don’t want to make any sort of sacrifice to follow Jesus. I must daily examine my own self to ensure I am not making similar choices.
Thanks for writing this as one crying out in the wilderness. Not sure you are familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer – but your article reminds me of what he wrote in 1937. “The Cost of Discipleship” was written just a year before the 1938 “Kristallnacht” pogrom, and before WWII – to a German culture that had come to accept what he called “cheap grace.” He writes:
“The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized Church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost. We gave away the word and sacraments wholesale, we baptized, confirmed, and absolved a whole nation unasked and without condition. Our humanitarian sentiment made us give that which was holy to the scornful and unbelieving. We poured forth unending streams of grace. But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard…” (more at: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/423945-cheap-grace-means-grace-sold-on-the-market-like-cheapjacks).
Keep crying out into the current wilderness.
Great blog. Thanks for your truthfulness and your wisdom.