Keith L. Anderson, Ph.D.
Here’s what being a Christian believer means to me. First, a Christian believer believes there is a God. Second, a Christian believer believes Jesus is the Son of God and He came to earth to live, teach and die for our sins. Thirdly, the sins Jesus died for are a Christian believer’s ticket to the promised heaven.
Some Christians believe that to be a believer in Christ a person must believe in the flavor of the day. The flavor of the day is a man made thought or way of doing something, to prove ones religiosity. A group of people begin to believe something and that belief spreads and then all of a sudden you’re not a Christian if you aren’t believing or doing this latest and the greatest religious thing. Several years back there was a movement called the Promise Keepers. It was a call to get men to be solid followers of Christ. There was absolutely nothing wrong with such a movement. However, in some religious circles if a man didn’t want to attend a Promise Keepers’ event, wear a Promise Keepers’ tee shirt or read materials written by speakers at their events, he was not considered a real Christian man. That wasn’t a belief the people within Promise Keepers came up with, but because Promise Keepers became the flavor of the day, the belief became a measuring tool of a man’s Christianity, in those religious circles. Another more mainline example is churches and denominations that have split over baptism by sprinkle or emersion. Somehow, how water is applied in baptism can affect ones relationship with God? Are you kidding me? That doesn’t make any sense. Well, that’s the nature of the flavor of the day. It will not make any sense if a person were to think it through. In fact most flavors of the day cannot be found anywhere in the Bible.
God is love, therefore to be a believer of God and a follower of Jesus, one must love. What I haven’t seen or heard within organized religion is the absolute importance of learning to love. I mean love everyone. It must be made clear the belief, that if a person is sitting in church and worshipping God, yet, hates people because of the color of their skin, or how wealthy they are or aren’t, that person is a liar. That’s in 1 John 4:20-21. If there is a hierarchy of sin, a lack of love has to be the number one sin a person could commit. Every other sin stems from a misunderstanding of what love is or isn’t. The wars of countries and couples, have their roots in a misunderstanding of what love is or isn’t.
The one thing the flavor of the day does is create within the fold a vehicle of guilt. It’s a way to inflict guilt on everyone who isn’t grounded the way we think they should be grounded. Throughout history the vehicle of guilt has driven many people away from the love of Christ. Those who stay and live under the laws of guilt end up becoming the Publicans, Pharisees and Sadducees of modern times. Like the Publicans, Pharisees and Sadducees of old they too have killed the real love of Christ. Some of the meanest, most uncaring people I’ve ever met have been people who see themselves as religious and righteous. They’re mean because they live under the laws of guilt, not the laws of love and forgiveness.
I’ve decided that the only guilt I will allow to affect me is the conviction of the Lord. No more man made guilt. I’m a sinner, who believes in God and is working on obeying His commandments. I’ve not reached the Promised Land, but I have gotten off my can and started the journey. While I’m traveling I will stumble and I will fall and by the grace of God, I will get back up and try again. I will avoid previous sins and not allow them to knock me down again. As I pass through and conquer sin after sin there will be fewer and fewer sins in my path. This will cause me to travel faster and faster towards God. It is within ones very own sins, that the grace, excellence and forgiveness of God is discovered. Those who claim to be perfect have never and will never experience the grace, excellence and forgiveness of God. The path to God should be like a well traveled road. Those who take the journey will become tired, dirty, and sinful and enlighten, but most of all we will be forgiven. This way I no longer have the pressure of being better than everyone I meet.