Every now and then, circumstances line up that give you an epiphany.
This week, people everywhere have been talking about the Syrian refugee crisis, and more than once I've seen someone say, "I don't you telling me I'm a BAD Christian because...." A bad Christian.
Let's face it, no one wants to be a "bad Christian." We all want to be "good Christians," right?
I've also been reading Victory over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson lately (which I wrote about here) about really KNOWING what your identity is in Christ.
Now, these two things would have coincided without me noticing, BUT THEN...
Yesterday, I was thinking about a situation. It's one where I was trying to FEEL differently because I was trying to FEEL the way I know a "GOOD" Christian should. But I couldn't...
So...I said, "that must mean I'm a bad Christian."
And that's when it hit me...there's no such thing. There's NO SUCH THING as a "good" or "bad" Christian. That's exactly what Mr. Anderson has been expressing in the chapter I was reading, it just took me a while to figure it out.
Christ died to save EVERYONE. If you've claimed Jesus Christ as your Savior, you're a Christian.
For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten son
that whoever should believe in Him
shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
If you've put your faith in Christ, then you're a Christian.
I know what you might be thinking: Um...Alissa...there are bad Christians and good Christians. I've seen them. The man who's a deacon and studies his Bible all the time, that's a good Christian. The girl who's partying it up on Friday and Saturday and sitting her butt down in the church pew on Sunday, that's a bad Christian.
I know you might think that because that girl, the latter example, that was me for a while.
I've even thought to myself, I'm so different now...what if I was never even saved.
But that doesn't seem to make sense either. I've felt Jesus with me for as long as I can remember. I have him my heart long ago. Why, then, did I behave so foolishly at different points?
Because I didn't understand my IDENTITY in Christ. I didn't know WHO I was. I didn't realize my value.
I still don't...not all the way, anyway.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 5:17
There's no middle ground. You're new or you're not.
So what happens?
Think about these 2 scenarios:
- You have a benefactor that sends you money each month and takes care of your needs. You may know his name or a little about him, but that's about it. You just know the check comes every month.
- You have a Dad. You love Him. He loves you. There's a relationship there. He would die for you; you know it, and you'd do anything for him.
In which scenario are you more secure? The money could always stop coming in the first, right? What if you fall out of grace?
See, Satan wants us to THINK that can happen to us. He wants us to think we're just one mistake away from too many.
But that doesn't happen. He's our Heavenly Father, full of love and grace for His children.
Somewhere (and I don't have time to look it up at the moment) it says that the blood of Jesus has washed us clean. If you're a Christian, you now stand in front of God spotless and pure, no matter what you've done (Romans 3 maybe?).
I didn't get that. Every time I made a bad choice (and it was frequently because I wasn't looking to God for guidance). I hid my face in shame. I wasn't worthy.
The tricky part is, the more I hid my face in shame, the dirtier I felt, the worse my decisions got.
I've said before that meeting Josiah and his family changed this for me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on HOW. Now, I know...they started to show me that my identity was in WHO I am, not what I had done.
When I understood that, I was able to look God full in the face, to begin to feel His grace. To understand that, no matter what, He wanted me to open myself up to Him...and He wanted me to get to know Him.
Anderson says it's being able to differentiate relationship from fellowship. You will always be your father's child. You can go to Timbuktu or Kalamazoo, and that won't change. Ever.
However, there can be a break of fellowship between you and your father. If you defy him, resist him, or run away from him, the relationship doesn't change (he's still your father), but things aren't right between you.
God is the perfect father. He's ALWAYS waiting for the prodigal to return, ALWAYS waiting for the stray sheep, ALWAYS seeking a return to fellowship with you.
You just have to be soft-hearted enough to receive Him.
So, if you're ever wondering if you're a good Christian or a bad Christian, wonder no more: there's no such thing.
You're just the same as the deacon with the Bible AND the girl doing the walk of shame on Sunday.
Positionally, we're all the same.
But I URGE you to seek true fellowship with our Father. Walk with Him. Spend time with Him. Learn from Him.
There's nothing like it.