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There is a stage in a Christian’s life when he or she has discovered enough Biblical truths, has attended quite a number of Christian seminars and Bible schools and joined a bunch of Christian gatherings. At this point in one’s life, it becomes easy to point fingers at everybody else who the Bible describes as sinners and openly declare statements of faith typically out of a prideful motive. The Christian that proclaims Christ is now acting like a Pharisee. It is not easy to recognize when one is under this state – after all, the Christian is sanitized by the cozy and comfortable “fellowship” with like-minded believers every Sunday, praying for each other and often for protection against the world that is said to be persecuting them. The fact that the Christian has received Christ as Savior and Lord has somehow given him or her the license to easily pronounce judgments against everybody else who is different. The Christian who freely received grace and established relationship with God by it has practically refused to carry it out to the world that badly needs it.
These people – including myself every so often have chosen the ethical way instead of the loving way. We can always tell people what we believe. We can spend hours telling them Biblical truths assuming they haven’t heard of them before. We can spend years planning a conference to proclaim Christ’s love through an evangelistic concert. We can spend millions giving away Bibles or Christian books, tracks, etc. We can show them how many Bible verses we have memorized, stick the fish symbol of Christianity on the backs of our cars, wear WWJD bracelets and wear cross pendants. And yet will the world finally know Christ and stop perceiving Him as merely the good person, the wise prophet, a statue or a mere biblical character by these strategies alone? If we continue to minister to the broken world from a safe distance and replace discipleship through a loving, gracious relationship with long hours on the computer preparing for all sorts of church activities, are we still helping fulfill Christ’s Commission?
The world will continue to misunderstand Christ if we focus on looking righteous and eliminate being loving and gracious out of the equation. If we settle with sharing mere truth without love and grace, the Christian Church will remain to look like that – a church, just another religion. We may have forgotten that while Christ shared the truth, he also ate with sinners. While he rebuked, he also showed love. While he spent hours reaching out to a large crowd, he spent more alone with just a few – teaching and training them in the context of a heart to heart relationship. Love, grace, relationship, discipleship as practiced by Jesus turned the world downside up, not mere ethical practices, statements of faith, random criticisms based subtly on pride. Anyone can be ethical, even unbelievers can be excellent at adhering to universal moral standards but love and grace based on truth that come from a Christian’s heart can point people to Christ. According to Dwight L. Moody, “Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian.” (April 6, 2014)