Quitting being a Christian
I guess the title alone inspires shock and disbelief for my readers.
Without going much into the context and further explanation, thoughts of leaving church and leaving God might even come to mind.
Before I go on further, let's just be assured of identity and let's not be caught up by terminology which may not mean anything. In this case, it does not really mean anything. The term 'Christian' appears in the New Testament three times, and from what I know, historically in the times of the Apostles, the term has always been used to degrade the people who believed and followed Jesus Christ. I recently listened to a series of podcasts by Andy Stanley who further expounded that the early so-called Christians did not call themselves Christians and Jesus actually called His followers 'disciples'. Now, everyone who has read their worth of the gospels will know that this is true, because Jesus wasn't the one who coined the term 'Christian' so that his followers can be called 'Christians'.
Andy Stanley made a good point and said that because the bible does not really move on to define the term 'Christian', and as a result, identifying one as a Christian becomes a battle of definition, free for all ground (imagine beginning of Hunger Game when the tributes could start grabbing equipments) and different people can define the term 'Christian' in whatever ways they want because the bible does not set itself up to define this term, except in three instances, out of which only one seems to suggest vaguely on how a Christian should live. Upon deeper reflection, I find that this is very true. Anyone can jolly well call themselves 'Christians' (and by this, I refer to every single being under the sun who claims Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, whether churched or unchurched, denomination or what not). And we can live under the shelter of this term without anything much other than proclaiming Jesus as Lord. This is true, after observing the landscape of Christianity in Singapore (I dare not say the same for other countries although I have read enough to understand a bit on what's happening in the USA), that people can hide under the identity 'Christian' and come out with all sorts of explanations and justifications on their own view of Christianity, using the bible to defend their worldview. The bible, I dare say, is a document where, devoid of context, can be used to say all things and defends all worldviews including those which contradict it. I have seen this before.
Looking closer at home, it is even true in Hope church, where active service is heavily emphasized. People are comfortable with just being a Christian which they take as attending church every week and ended up living a life that does not really fully fulfill their potential in the Kingdom of God or ended up living a life that contradicts the bible altogether. I won't be surprised if one is bewildered by this statement but this is the truth for some people. But Jesus never asked us to live a passive 'Christian' life, and He never said that a Christian only attends church every week. Look at some verses and ask if this is the case:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5:13-16
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35Just a sampling of Jesus' word but I realised that it is never passive and always active. My point is this, Christianity is not about being a Christian, but living out His words to be His disciples. We received Christ and we are saved. But God called us not to be Christians who attend church every week but He calls us to repent (literally meaning turning our back against sin) and to be taught everything He has taught the disciples. The Great Commission or I like to call it the Last Instruction is to call the disciples to make disciples of all nations, not to convert people into Christians.
After my two trips to Japan, I clearly witnessed how this principle comes to play. We are not called to be armchair Christians to whine and struggle about our problems daily but called to be a disciple who makes disciples and let known that we are His disciples, through our actions and deeds, not just our words. The missionary work in Japan (Watanoha to be more specific) is one that I have seen this working out. The love of God exhibited through the lives of disciples who actively live out a life of love is caught on by the observers who are there to observe our lives. This principle, I believe, works the same in our workplace and other places.
Then here comes my clicher - do we have the courage to live out the life of a disciple and quit being a Christian?? If we profess Jesus to be our Lord and Saviour, do we have the courage to allow Jesus be our Lord and obey His words in our lives?
This is a difficult call. But one that we cannot avoid because this is where the rubber meets the road and where the Word tests the depth of our faith and conviction.