Last week we emphasized the importance of knowing the purpose and limits of cultural Christianity. When Christians fail to gain such knowledge, they set themselves up for great confusion and disappointment… expecting something of their faith it isn’t able to deliver. This week we consider the vast difference between cultural and biblical Christianity.
We must understand that biblical Christianity is not so much about a certain kind of lifestyle as a certain kind of faith—absolute surrender to Christ. A heart truly devoted to Christ will display a godly lifestyle—even if only in progress—but a “godly” lifestyle may not necessarily reveal a heart devoted to Christ.
Biblical Christianity is never convenient or popular; it is not measured by cultural convention, public opinion, or personal preference but by radical faith in the words and ways of Jesus Christ. Such devotion is not a metaphor; it is actually giving our life to Christ by daily choosing to live for God’s benefit not ours.
Why are we talking of Christianity in such difficult terms? Because we are simply describing the Christianity of the Bible. Below are some normative descriptions of biblical Christianity:
Dangerous Love: One who loves his enemies and prays for his persecutors (Matt. 5:44).
Absolute Affection: One who loves God with more affection and passion than anything else in life (Duet. 10:12, Matt. 22:37).
Impossible Forgiveness: One who does not hold grudges or becomes offended, but freely forgives just as God has freely forgiven her (Matt. 6:12, 14-15).
Unreasonable Love: One whose love is always patient, kind, and doesn’t keep track of wrongs (I Cor. 13:4-7).
Unselfish Giving: One who doesn’t give to get anything in return (Luke 6:30-31).
Unrestrained Compassion: One whose heart breaks for the poor because the love of Jesus burns in his heart (Matt. 25:40).
Why in the world would somebody choose such a life? Why would someone ever seek such radical self-denial? Because something truly life changing happens to all who do. In some inexplicable way, when people put Christ in the center of their lives, he unleashes his life in the center of their hearts. Christ said if we try to save our life we’ll lost it but if we abandon it to him, we find it (Mark 8:35).
But isn’t such a life impossible? Yes… but only when we attempt it on our own. When we surrender our hearts to Christ, God miraculously empowers us to become what we never were so we can live, love, and serve in a way we never could (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 4:13). Yet, such a faith requires earnest desire and single-minded focus. Next week, we talk about how constant distraction and busyness can wreak havoc on our life of faith.
What Do You Think?
In view of our surrender theme, missionary martyr, Jim Elliott, said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” What do you think he meant?