Didn’t want to be too harsh, but maybe I should have been
I was going to title this piece, “Where are all the REAL Christians?”, but I didn’t want to take it that far. Using the term, “Real Christian”, seemed a bit too judgmental. Still, I think it too would have been an appropriate title under the circumstances and maybe I should have used it.
What do I mean by “Serious” Christian?
When I say “serious” Christian, I’m not talking about a person who goes around with a frown on their face all the time, looking like they’re sucking a lemon, and exuding no joy whatsoever. I’m talking about someone who takes their Christian calling seriously. Someone who revolves their life around God, Jesus and the Christian way of life as defined in the Bible, rather than putting their Christianity away after church on Sunday and then proceed to blend in with the world the other six days of the week. Someone who actually applies what they have been taught through the scriptures rather than hearing the instructions and then forgetting them. After all, the Bible tells us we are to apply (to do) what we are taught.
James 1:22-25: 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
A serious Christian is hard to find
How often do you see this though? Really? How many people do you come across that are obviously Christians? Most people I have known in my life who considered themselves Christian would never have been easily classified as Christian by anyone because they blended right in with the worldly people…or, in some cases, were even worse! The only way I knew that some people considered themselves to be Christian is because they mentioned something about going to church at some point or talked about Jesus in relation to Christmas or Easter. If they hadn’t mentioned those things, I would never have guessed they were Christian.
Sadly, this is very common today. There still seems to be some Christians in name, but very few Christians in actual practice. If that is the case, are they really Christians at all? That is not a judgment I am willing to make because only God is fit to do determine that, but I do think that it behooves a person to ask themselves this question about themselves. If you aren’t practicing Christianity, are you actually a Christian?
Granted, no one is perfect and every Christian still makes mistakes and falls short of the mark (the definition of sin is “missing the mark”). However, if you consider yourself to be Christian but you look more like the world than you do Jesus, perhaps there needs to be some changes.
Lack of good Christian books
One area I notice a big difference in the level of Christianity is in books. I have found very few newer “Christian” books that are worth reading. I’m not speaking of text book type of books on certain subjects like Biblical history, Universal reconciliation, Preterism, etc. I’m talking about books on things like suffering, sin, trust, faith and overall Christian behavior. The modern books on those subjects are often too worldly. The authors seem to be worrying too much about not offending the world rather than speaking God’s truth. They try too hard to be politically correct rather than Biblically correct. The result is a boring, dried up, useless rag of a book that does nothing except make the author some money. It certainly doesn’t educate or strengthen anyone trying to live a Christ-like life, that’s for sure.
On the other hand, I have found that older books tended not to pull any punches. The authors of these books spoke the truth, no matter how hard it might be for the reader to hear. The result of reading these old books for a reader that is traveling the road of Christ-likeness?: inspiration, correction and growth. And yes, joy!
My personal experience
I am someone that uses a highlighter marker when I read. I highlight anything that moves, educates or inspires me in some way. When I am done with the book, I then transfer these highlighted sentences to my journals so I can review them when I want without having to reread the books again. I have found that when I read a newer “Christian” book, I am often lucky to have more than a few highlighted sentences to copy. On the other hand, I have had older books with almost whole pages highlighted throughout the book. That shows how much actual spiritual “meat” is in the older books in contrast to the watered down milk that’s often in the newer ones. If a person can’t get past the milk stage of spiritual growth, how are they ever going to become a mature, Christ-like Christian?
Life changing old books
Recently I read some old books that changed my life. Literally. They made me realize that, unknowingly to me, I too had slipped into the “worldly Christian” category in some ways.
For years I had been having problems with, among other things, a lack of joy and extreme anger. I was also reluctant to really talk about my faith with anyone. In my case, it was due to lack of trust in God and fear of what people would think. I knew I had those problems for some time and had read several books on the various subjects over the years, but I never got enough from the books to make any large, permanent changes in these particular areas of my life. However, I recently read some old Christian books that happened to be loaded with exactly what I needed to hear in order to snap out of my spiritual rut.
One of the most beneficial of the books was, “Growing Spiritually” by E. Stanley Jones. It was a real wake up call for me. One of the biggest things I got from this book was the realization that modern “Christians”, including myself at the time, are not living like actual Christians. They are kidding themselves by calling themselves Christian while not actually living like one and, as a result, are suffering the consequences: a dead, joyless, sin-filled version of a “Christian” life.
Long story short, after getting this message and applying what I learned, I am now a noticeably different person. I now feel actual joy and have lost the majority of my anger. I literally thank our Heavenly Father for these older books because, without them, I don’t think I would have been able to make the progress I have made in my Christian life due to the fact that I don’t know many people or any modern books that will speak Biblical truth like these older books do. Modern people are mostly too politically correct, too worried about hurting someone’s feelings, and too concerned about fitting in with the world to speak the hard truth that we sometimes need to hear in order to grow. They are little, to no help for serious Christians.
The answer to my title question
That said, I will answer the title question by saying that serious Christians are out there. There aren’t a lot of us, but we are there. Serious Christians have also written a lot of books in times past. If you want to see what real Christians actually believe and do, I encourage you to seek out some of these older books. Maybe you too will have a much needed wake-up call and start living out your Christian calling and become more Christian…more Christ-like. If enough of us did this, what a different world this would be!