There is a whole lot of discussion right now about how to tell if Christians are in fact Christians. The alternative is I guess that they would be people who profess Christ, but are deceived. If you’ve read my posts before, then you know I have a pretty simplistic view of things. My first premise is that the basis of real, authentic, blood bought Christianity must be true across the board from Baptists to Methodists to Catholics to Church of Christ to Non-denominationalists to Pentecostals and everywhere in between.
The definition of Christianity isn’t changed by which flavor you prefer. If you, as a human being, accept that you are in absolute 100% need of a savior, a pure and holy sacrifice who CAN and DID pay for your sins so that you can have access to the Father then as scripture states you are a Christian. Being a Christian is not about having the right doctrine, worship style, or bank account. It is simply about the audacious work that Jesus did on the cross to cover my sins giving me access and authority to call myself a co-heir with Christ.
So what then is the problem? Certain groups do baptisms one way, others do communion this way, some worship with instruments, others don’t. Some say women can preach, some say women have to wear head coverings. Some have blue carpet while others believe that red carpet is the only way to go. It’s a bit ridiculous the things we fight over. So instead of fighting, walk with me on a journey for a minute.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Have you ever grown a garden? Do you plant corn only? Do you think it’s an abomination to plant tomatoes and peppers in the same vicinity? There are some people who even plant flowers such as marigolds in the middle of their vegetables because they believe it keeps out bugs. Are they heretics to the garden community? Even if you have a Rose garden, do you limit it only to yellow roses or do you let in as many varieties of roses that space will allow? You see there is beauty in diversity.
I believe that the Creator of the universe really gets and really appreciates diversity. He made people with a variety of hues in skin, hair and eye color. When you mix and match those people, you get some of the most beautiful people in the world. Why, when God personally created so many varieties of flowers, foods, trees, landscapes, humans, animals, etc do we think that He is freaked out about differences in worship styles?
A famous author recently said that all Charismatics are not Christians and are walking a thin line of being demonized. I just don’t understand. In 2000 years collectively Christians have done such a horrible job of distorting the beauty and majesty of Jesus. We have sponsored the Crusades, bombed abortion clinics, carried signs that says ‘God hates fags’ and we are freaking out about whether Johnny twitches or laughs in the middle of worship? At least he’s worshipping Jesus!
By and large Christians did nothing to help Jews during the holocaust and we are more concerned (at least in America) with lining our pockets than with taking care of widows and orphans, which is how Jesus describes pure and undefiled religion. If we hold true to our faith then we must believe that there are millions of people dying each day who really and truly are not Christians. The enemy has done such a great job of getting us bickering with each other that we are ineffective at doing the two things He said to do: Love Me and Love Them.
Where is the Love?
Call me crazy, but the Bible says the world will know we are Christians by our love. I can hear you now saying, “But Jill, love isn’t a free pass to do whatever you want. We can’t abuse grace.” Absolutely, I agree. But I can also say with 100% confidence that if you have ever really encountered the love of God and tasted of His grace then you have a deep understanding of Paul’s admonition, where sin abounds grace abounds all the more. The reality is that most of the church doesn’t really understand the audacious, radical, absurd, and even offensive nature of the cross. His grace is so much bigger than we can comprehend.
So what about the Strange Fire and weird manifestations that happen in some charismatic circles? Is it demonic? Is it fleshly? Is it sinful? Yes. No. Maybe. It’s not necessarily my job to judge that. You see scripture says that men judge outward appearances but God judges the heart. Certainly we can judge the fruit of people’s lives, but that fruit is defined as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control. Ephesians 5:8-9 says “for you were once darkness, but now the light in The Lord. Live as children of light (for fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases The Lord.”
Love First, Judge Later
If any Christ professing person does not exhibit or manifest the above fruit then you can certainly begin to question whether they are actually engaged in a viable relationship with Jesus or whether they have just been participating in the throws of religion. Will every Christian be walking in 100% perfect fruitfulness? No. Much of that has to do with maturity. You have to wait for plants and fruits to bear fruit and sometimes they have to be pruned to bear more fruit. Humans can resist the pruning process and become dormant.
But don’t we have to test the spirits and doesn’t the Bible say that the elect can be deceived? Yes it does. Fear is not of God. What this author and others are selling is fear based religion that does not lead to liberty. “It is for freedom that you have been set free!” I just tested the spirits. As for the elect being deceived, I believe there will be a showdown someday, somehow between the ways of the world, the anti-Christ mentalities, systems or persons and the ways of God.
I believe there will come a very definitive day where I will have to choose who/what/where I will place my allegiance and my trust/faith/hope. I believe in that day many Christ professing people will choose what seems like a road of comfort and peace, but will actually be nothing of the sort. I believe some of the elect will be deceived but I do not think that the enemy is going to deceive them by different styles of worship. If he is going to deceive someone it will be to place their trust in a system that is reliant on something or someone other than God.
I guess what I want you to take away more than anything is that all this nonsense is distracting the Bride from her real destiny to love God and love people. We are so consumed with inner bickering that we are missing the millions that are dying and going to hell daily. Beloved, you should have the fear of God over that reality because this is what each one of us will have to give an account for to Jesus himself. Did you help him receive the reward for his suffering? He’s not going to ask you if you sang hymns or did fire tunnels. He’s a bit more concerned with the billions of his kids whom He dearly loves and will spend eternity without ever knowing His name. What a tragedy. Yes there is a deception running rampant, but it is not at all the way you presume it to be.
Jill Hurley is the Executive Director of Tech 24-7, a campus ministry at Texas Tech University which has invited students from all denominations and backgrounds to join together in the Campus House of Prayer (CHOP) and pray for our Texas Tech University. We also host a weekly gathering called Ekballo, which serves as a training ground to train students in how to practically do evangelism and discipleship as students. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Anthropology, and hopes to graduate in the next two years. Jill is single and taking applications for currently unfilled roles as husband and children. If you would like to apply for either, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is partially joking.