I am the worst at confrontation. Don’t let the volume of my voice and weight of my words fool you. It’s probably why I enjoy giving speeches rather than engaging in debates.
Join the fight? Pick a side? Umm, why can’t we just be friends?
It’s so difficult to be a Christian these days, for people like me. Living in a generation where unbridled inclusivity is seen as holiness and #LoveWins is taken as gospel truth, choosing to stand by a faith that seems to confront just that feels like an increasingly poor PR decision.
For the person who likes being everybody’s best friend, the implications of being a church-going, Bible-believing and therefore “highly religious” individual in this day and age sometimes cuts too close to social suicide for my liking.
THE CHRISTIAN CLOSET
But it’s not what my faith is; it’s just what it looks like to the watching world. I’m not so sure they’re getting the right idea of what I even believe in. Why is it getting harder to say I’m Christian? Why does it feel like I’m in some sort of Christian closet?
The conversation surrounding the faith and every agenda it gets caught up in has become such a high voltage zone for controversy that it makes even the best of us think twice before speaking up – coming out Christian.
Contrary to popular belief, my faith isn’t a bunch of do’s and don’ts, can’s and cannot’s.
If I say I’m Christian today, others read in that statement a billboard of messages I wasn’t personally intending to broadcast, but which have become so frustratingly and intricately tied to the one I do believe in: The message of the Gospel centred around Jesus Christ.
Because, contrary to popular belief, my faith isn’t a bunch of do’s and don’ts, can’s and cannot’s.
Our faith is a Person.
It is this Person, Jesus Christ, who compels me to come out of hiding, as He did, arms outstretched on that wretched Cross for the salvation of the whole world – from the left to the right and all those in the middle. He died for all (2 Corinthians 5:15).
It is His message of truth and grace that I wear and so desperately hope the rest of the world can see. And this is how I understand it:
JESUS’ MESSAGE OF TRUTH AND GRACE
1. The Gospel of Christ is offensive, but the people of Christ shouldn’t be
I didn’t come to abolish the Law, Jesus famously said (Matthew 5:17). I have not come to abolish it but to fulfil it. It’s not party time, people. The rules still stand. The still-standing truth is that, sin – or anything that falls short of the standards of the Law – is offensive to God (Habakkuk 1:13).
Not the most PC thing to hear, I know.
But what this means is no one has the right to demand or claim holiness except for the only sinless one, Jesus Christ (John 8:7). Through Him we are saved from eternal separation from God because of our sin. Through us others have a chance of meeting the Jesus who saved the woman caught in adultery from being stoned – but also told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
2. There is no us-vs-you, Jesus came for one and all
Being committed to the Truth of God’s Word is not a badge of honour that says I’m holier than thou. Rather, it is a symbol of humility in the face of a Gospel that points out the failure of every man to reach the absolute purity – sinlessness – needed to stand before a Holy God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I have not come to call the righteous, Jesus told those who disapproved of his mingling with the non-religious, the “sinners” of His day (Luke 5:30). I have come to call sinners to repentance. What He was really saying: That means all of you. No one can be right before God on their own know-how, without Jesus. That’s why everyone is invited: Because everyone has failed. But everyone is loved.
3. Come as you are, but don’t expect to leave as you are
It is this divine love that both comforts and confronts each one who walks into the arms of Jesus. The same love that does not discriminate is the love that cannot leave the one it holds unchanged for the better, to be more like Christ rather than our old selves (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Jesus’ love is a transformative love, refining every single one of us to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Max Lucado gives a brilliant analogy of this in his book, Just Like Jesus:
When my daughter was a toddler, I used to take her to a park not far from our apartment. One day as she was playing in a sandbox, an ice-cream salesman approached us. I purchased her a treat, and when I turned to give it to her, I saw her mouth was full of sand. Where I had intended to put a delicacy, she had put dirt.
Did I love her with dirt in her mouth? Absolutely. Was she any less of my daughter with dirt in her mouth? Of course not. Was I going to allow her to keep the dirt in her mouth? No way.
I loved her right where she was, but I refused to leave her there. I carried her over to the water fountain and washed out her mouth. Why? Because I love her.
God does the same for us. He holds us over the fountain. “Spit out the dirt, honey,” our Father urges. “I’ve got something better for you.”
And so he cleanses us of filth; immorality, dishonesty, prejudice, bitterness, greed. We don’t enjoy the cleansing; sometimes we even opt for the dirt over the ice cream. “I can eat dirt if I want to!” we pout and proclaim.
Which is true – we can. But if we do, the loss is ours. God has a better offer.
JESUS IS THE BETTER OFFER
For this Person, Jesus Christ, I make the daily decision to live out my Christian faith.
Every day, I choose to come out of the Christian closet, clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, patience and forgiveness (Colossians 3:12-13) – ready to tell anyone who asks why I’m living the way I do with the utmost courtesy (1 Peter 3:15).
Every day, I choose to wear the love of Jesus Christ – my basic, all-purpose garment of salvation (Colossians 3:14). Because without it, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).
I choose to come out Christian – because I am all in.