As a pastor, I hear this question all the time: “Can I be a Christian if…?”
That sentence has been finished with any number of lifestyle choices. I’ve heard this question used to justify drug use, affairs and a host of other decisions. The real question being asked here is, “Can I be a Christian if I don’t want to live God’s way?”
Let’s be real –– all of us have asked this question before, myself included! And it’s actually so revealing about some misconceptions we have about God and our relationship with him.
At its core, this question is about acceptance. If we view salvation as an exclusive club, we’re always going to wonder what disqualifies us. This is a skewed human perspective and not an accurate picture of the heart of God.
The truth is, none of us have been saved by anything we’ve done. If our actions didn’t qualify us for salvation, they can’t disqualify us. If we make mistakes, God’s forgiveness is waiting for us, never beyond our reach. His love for us is endless. It is that very love which led him to the cross where he bled out for us. The purpose of this love was not to establish an exclusive club, but to rescue us from the violent and destructive nature of our sin.
My friends, we’re asking the wrong question. The question above asks how much we can get away with while maintaining our status as a “Christian.” Rather, we should ask ourselves,
“If I am a child of God, bought at such a price,
why would I want anything less than God’s best?”
Christ died to save us from every decision, every pattern and every lifestyle that harms us. If we are trying to continue our destructive lifestyles after being confronted with the love of Christ, we’ve missed the point. Not only that, but we have been sold a lie.
It’s time to flip the script. The bottom line is that, as fallen humans, we want to do what we want to do. We want to continue doing it, so we try to convince ourselves that God’s not upset about it.
But what parent would not be upset at the sight of their child repeatedly choosing to harm themselves?
If we truly understood the passionate nature of Christ’s sacrificial love, a life apart from him wouldn’t attract us. When we give into sin, it devastates the heart of God. Our Heavenly Father wants to see us healed, restored and free. Loving him means choosing him over our selfish desires.
That’s what love does.
When we love someone, we don’t want to break their heart. Choosing repentance (or turning away from our sin) means choosing to lay aside the things which break God’s heart. If we live our lives doing the bare minimum to gain God’s acceptance, we are no longer practicing Christianity. We’re playing a false game with ourselves, trying to win (or just keep from losing) God’s favor.
Christ has called us into a relationship with himself. The love our Savior has for us outweighs any temporary pleasure we long for. He stands, with arms wide open, waiting for us to leave the sin that kills our souls and return to him. We can’t take hold of his goodness if our hands are full of what the world is selling. A life of spiritual richness and satisfaction is being offered to us.
In the face of such love, how could we settle for anything less?