While I would disagree with the statement in the title, I have heard more than a few people make that accusation. It is true that not everyone who claims Christianity is honest about who they are and the life they are living. In the New Testament, prophecies were made concerning the church, especially concerning hypocrisy that would arrive and worsen as time would continue. Read what Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these."
This grim prophecy points to a time when people would create a hollow shell of godliness, a form that appears holy on the outside but contains no substance. It is a time of faithless people who still claim to walk with God (Hebrews 11:1; 1 John 1:6).
There are people who claim to serve God but who really serve idols of varying types. I doubt that comes as a revelation to anyone. What we must communicate to each other and to the skeptical lost soul is that the value of Christianity is not diminished by those who falsely claim it. The value of Christianity rests in Christ Jesus, the only Savior of the world (Acts 4:12), and in the way of life that is taught by His grace (Titus 2:11-14).
Those who follow His ways, who confess their sins and repent and return to God, are the ones who truly display the power of God and the value of Christianity. Let’s examine our lives and make sure we are walking worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1) and not placing a stumbling block in anyone’s path (Matthew 18:7). Let us display true Christianity, so that when anyone makes a blanket accusation of hypocrisy we can point to each other and prove that true, faith-filled Christianity exists today.
In 2003, Kyle Beebe was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He was fined and sentenced to three years of supervised probation. Although he had served his sentence, the conviction remained on his record permanently, and would cause potential employers to take a second look at him before they hired him for any job. After all, who wants a “former” drug dealer as their employee? How long before he goes back to his drug-dealing ways and damages the reputation of your establishment?
In 2014, Kyle wrote a letter to the Arkansas governor, Mike Beebe, requesting pardon for his offense. Yes, you read the last name right. The governor was Kyle’s father. Within weeks the pardon was to be issued, but as I read the news story, one question nagged my mind: Why did the governor and father wait so long (11 years since the conviction!) to issue a pardon to his own son? According to CNN, the recommendation for pardon came only after Kyle, the son, wrote a lengthy letter to the governor along with his pardon application. An excerpt from the letter reads:
“Mr. Governor, I am asking for a second chance at life. I am asking for a second chance to be the man that I know that I can be.”
“At the time of my arrest I was living in a fantasy world, not reality. I was young and dumb. At that time in my life I felt like I was missing something and I tried to fill that emptiness by selling drugs.”
In response, the governor and father had this to say:
“I would have [pardoned him] a long time ago if he’d have asked, but he took his sweet time about asking.”
The forgiveness, the erasing of the guilt by way of pardon, was readily available, but the child had to return in humility to his father, showing a penitent heart, before forgiveness could be given. How often do we retain our own guilt because we are too proud to confess our mistakes before God and ask for forgiveness? Remember the teachings of John in 1 John 1:8-9:
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Those who have become children of God through obedience to the gospel need only to humbly and penitently confess our sins before our Father, and He is more than willing to forgive us, to offer us the pardon we continually need.
When is the last time you bowed before God in prayer, specifically noting those sins which you had committed, for which you need His forgiveness? When is the last time you spoke to your brother or sister in Christ, requesting their forgiveness for a wrong you committed against them?
Pride is a powerful emotion to overcome. So often it is the reason we refuse to confess our sins and seek forgiveness from God and our spiritual family. Make no mistake, we are all ashamed of choices we have made. The beauty of Christianity, however, is that Jesus loves us enough to bear that shame for us, if we will let Him. God is ready to forgive, are you ready to humble yourself and seek Him out?
In Romans 1:18-23, Paul describes the way God has made Himself known to all of humankind from the foundation of the world. Because of His power, beauty, and knowledge displayed through His creation, all of humankind is to glorify Him. Failing to glorify and show gratitude to God results in a futile and foolish way of life that glorifies animals and man himself rather than the Almighty Creator. How does a person glorify God? The prophet Daniel shows us one way: by humbling yourself.
Daniel 2:26-30 tells of the young man Daniel, to whom God has given the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s mysterious and confounding dream. No wise man, no conjurer, no seer that the king had summoned was able to interpret the dream (Dan. 2:27). In that moment, when Daniel had been given impossible information, the revelation of a dream which even the king himself had forgotten, it would be tempting to take credit and be elevated in the eyes of other people. Instead, Daniel chooses the path of humility, giving all the credit for the great wisdom to God (Dan. 2:28-30). After revealing the dream and its interpretation, the king offers this response: “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries…” (Dan. 2:47a).
As Daniel humbled himself by giving God the proper credit for His unfathomable wisdom he caused God to be glorified by one who had previously known next to nothing about the True God.
In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus teaches that His followers are lights in a dark world who ought to let their lights shine, which results in the people of this world glorifying God in heaven. Humble lights who elevate God to His proper place in their lives cause those around them to glorify God.
Talk to a stranger about what God has done to change you! Talk about His transforming power and how it has changed your life! Give your time and energy to someone in need! Be a humble light and bring glory to God!
Second Only to the King
42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
-Mark 10:42–45 (NASB95)
The teachings of God concerning how to attain greatness are clear, and may at first seem impractical or unreasonable. In short, God says a person will only find greatness and honor if they do not seek it at all. Instead, they must seek the opposite. Seek to be a servant, lowly, selfless, totally unconcerned about status or recognition. Only then will greatness
s and honor be granted (James 4:10). To keep human eyes clear of fog concerning the issue of greatness and how it is sought and achieved, God has provided examples like the one in Esther.
The book of Esther provides a uniquely earthbound perspective. God’s behind-the-scenes workings are seen only in their effect. The reader is not allowed to pull back the curtain to see God’s plan until it is revealed in due time. In this account, Haman sought honor and glory without rest while Mordecai sought only to do what was good for his people. Ultimately, Haman’s ambition assembled the gallows from which he swung (Esther 7:9). Mordecai, on the other hand, through his humility and selfless seeking of good, became “second only to King Ahasuerus” (Esther 10:3).
Those who seek greatness and recognition will not find it from God. Those who selflessly seek good for all will be exalted by Him. Servitude is the path to true greatness. Walk it with humility and avoid the prideful gallows.
There are many challenges facing the Christian but none is greater than the challenge to remain faithful to Christ. In reality, this is what Christianity is all about. Jesus summed it up this way: “Be faithful until death, and 1 will give you the crown of life “(Rev. 2:10). Of course, we understand that Jesus addressed this to Christians who were being tortured and killed for their faith. He challenged them to be faithful and not deny Him even if it meant death. The reward of heaven would far outweigh the pain of torture.
Most Christians today do not face death for their faith, yet the challenge to be faithful is still very real. The Christian's faith is being challenged daily by distractions that take the focus from the priorities of life.
How can one remain faithful? The Word is full of admonition and encouragement to be faithful. Here are some things that will help to this end:
1. Daily Bible Study. "Your word 1 have hidden in my heart, That 1 might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11). Jesus used the Scripture to overcome the temptation of Satan and so must we (Matt. 4:1-11).
2. Daily Prayer. Jesus both taught and demonstrated the necessity of daily prayer in remaining faithful (Matt. 6:9-15).
3. Encourage One Another. The Hebrew writer warned against the sin of unbelief and admonished "exhort one another daily" (Heb. 3:13). Christians need to help one another to bear the burdens of daily living (Gal. 6: 1-2).
4. Add the Christian Graces. Peter admonishes Christians to grow spiritually by adding to their faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness brotherly kindness and love. By growing in these things, Peter says: "you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ"
(2 Peter 1:5- 7). Accordingly, Peter says "for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1: 11).
In other words, to remain faithful we must do our best each day to do God's will. We must never lose sight of the heavenly goal. Paul put it this way: "Brethren, 1 do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14). May we never let the distractions of the world cause us to take our eyes from the cross.
The Hebrew writer admonished: “... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”(Heb. 12:1-2). Let us ever strive to remain faithful to the Lord.