I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
A quote worth contemplating
Reflecting on our walk in Christ from time to time is a great habit. Do I still resemble Jesus Christ? Am I still following in Jesus’ footsteps? Or am I, consciously or unconsciously, following a personal or collective form of religion I devised or inherited? Can I name the feelings and explain the thoughts that come up when I read Gandhi’s quote for the second time? Do I feel hurt, humiliated or criticized? Does it strike a chord in me? Do I recognize myself in this quote? Have you ever asked someone (outside your Christian circle of friends) what they think of you? If you did, what was the answer? These are some questions we (can) ask ourselves when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ.
The main question we should ask ourselves as often as we can is: “Am I Christ like?”
Growing in Christ
We didn’t write this post to make you feel guilty. On the contrary! Sometimes we need to pause, reflect and evaluate our growth in Christ. Are we still on track? Is the narrow road still the path we’re traveling on? Are we depending on how others behave when it comes to following Christ? Are we still trying to change others? What is our motivation? Are we driven by love?
Christianity in general
Let’s take a look at some thought patterns that may have become fixed in our minds. We know now that behavior emerges out of our thinking. That’s why we’ll first take a look at some of the thought patterns that may have been generated a long the years. As you read through them, prayerfully ask yourself the question if this applies to you or not.
1. To gain a certain level of respect, I need to do something important in Church.
Things we might say (mostly to ourselves): “I need to be seen! I need to be respected! I am important and people need to acknowledge my importance!”
2. I have to bind and fight against the devil when I have problems in my life;
It’s mainly about the attention we pay him. He’s like a dog. The more attention he gets, the more he will show up. We blame the devil for everything bad that happens in our lives. The car broke down: it’s the devil’s fault. You’re husband left you: it’s the devil’s fault (or worse, ‘he is the devil’). People don’t love you: it’s the devil’s fault.
3. A good and strong Christian is someone who receives everything from God that he or she doesn’t want or need.
We’ve all heard one or two of these testimonies before. A missionary shares his testimony and tells us that a calling for missions was something he’d felt since childhood. His first reaction to this knowing was: “Everywhere but China!” Guess what happened? This missionary was sent to China! If you hear such testimonies often enough, you tend to mistrust God and you dare not even talk about your future spouse. He might give you someone you don’t like!
4. My circumstances need to change.
When I retire, I’ll have more free time to do Gods work. When I have a man or a woman in my life, I’ll be happy. If I have 100,000 dollars, I will finally be able to enjoy life. When I have my own church/ministry things will start to look up for me.
5. People around me need to change
I’m not the one who has the problem. I’m a blood bought, Holy Ghost filled and water baptized child of the Most high. There’s nothing wrong with me! God is with me!
6. I depend on my pastor or an elder to pray for me when times get rough.
God listens to them. He rarely listens to me. They are anointed and I am not.
These are some of the mind-sets that we may have as Christians, believers or followers of Jesus. It doesn’t matter how we are called. Our mind-set is much more important than the label or name we give ourselves when it comes to Christianity. It’s in our understanding of what Jesus came to do here. Learning how to walk like He did here on earth should flow out of this understanding. Love should be our source and motivation. Jesus equals love. When we walk in love, things will change.
If you would like to know how to break through these fixed thought patterns, we recommend you read our upcoming post: “You can change your life!”
Be like Jesus
What’s Jesus’ teaching telling us? What does it mean to be like Christ? Our focus is mainly fixed on the things He did. He walked on water, calmed a storm, put the Pharisees in their place by revealing their hypocrisy, healed the sick and fed thousands of people. We try to be like Him when it comes to these great deeds. But Jesus was teaching something of much more importance and significance: our hearts condition! With the theme of His first sermon, Jesus is teaching us the importance of: ‘character’.
Out of everything Jesus taught, we can conclude that a believer or follower of Jesus is someone who:
- loves people unconditionally,
- serves others,
- learned to develop character (Galatians 5:22-23) and is still learning,
- walks in love, wisdom and forgiveness,
- has learned to be dependent on God and not on men,
- embraces the victory Jesus gained at Calvary,
- learned how to make a distinction between negative and positive emotions and
- takes responsibility for his/her circumstances.
Success or victory is not an immediate result of having everything you want and need. It’s not a guarantee that every situation will be positive and that everyone around you will agree with everything you say and do. In Gods eyes success lies in being the least of all. It’s not just an action. We can try to make ourselves humble or the least, but ultimately our hearts motives will come to light. It’s all about the heart! A successful Christian is someone who focuses on developing character. Talents and callings will be enhanced by a person of character! The moral of this story: Everything we do should be motivated by unconditional love! ‘Success’ is determined by the degree in which we love unconditionally.