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What Does It Mean?
by Steven Hieronymus, elder on July 8th, 2011

It seems as though I keep coming across people, directly or indirectly, that are espousing views regarding Christianity, either as an external observer or ostensibly as one on the inside i.e. a Christian. The above statement certainly comes as no surprise, but what has got my attention is the unrecognizable nature of some of the views being espoused. I think my non-confrontational side has had the better of me, thus I have simply been letting it go. However; I think God has been working on me, as I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with this “let it go / let it be” position that I have staked out. It has dawned on me that my silence is a bending to the will of Satan and that I might be ignoring the charge to “Fight the good fight”.

The corruption of the Christian faith can be quite subtle and might well be deemed attractive to our human (sinful) nature. Paul directly addresses in his warning in 2 Tim. 4:3-4 – “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” These words of truth resonate with me today.

I recently put aside my “let it go” mentality and responded to an article published in our local paper, but which was written by a writer with the Fort Worth paper. My communication as follows:

Dear Mr. Sanders,

There are elements of your article that I would certainly agree with, yet one comment took me by surprise. In your second paragraph you said the following:

“As a Christian myself, I am offended by those who, in the name of Jesus, go out of their way not only to denounce other religions, but to condemn people of other faiths to hell.”

You then end the column with this sentence:

“My prayer is a simple one that I’ve been reciting for a long time: Dear God, please help Christians to become more Christ-like.

To be a “Christian” is to be a Christ follower, thus the words and call of Christ are of great importance to we who have become His followers. I certainly would not have the “audacity” to define or confine the Lord God, thus choose to let His revealed “Word” provide the definition. So what are the actual words of Jesus to us on the subject of salvation?

• John 3:18 – “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
• John 6:29 – “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
• John 11:35 – “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
• John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
• See also: Luke 13:22-30, Matthew 7: 13-14 & 21-23, Luke 12:49-53, Luke 16: 19-31

I send the above because Christianity is not comparable to other religious faiths and quite honestly is exclusionary in that Christ specifically says there is only one way to be reconciled and at peace with God our father and creator.

As such all must respond to the person of Jesus. We can reject him or we accept him as the Christ and His offer of grace. To accept and then follow means to be a Christ Follower – thus Christian.

I hope that you might explore the verses referenced above and of course there are many more as well. My intention is not to be contentious, but desire accuracy as to how we convey the meaning behind identifying oneself as a Christian.

What does it mean – to be a Christian? Are we ready to contend for the faith, without being contentious? Are we prepared to address the tenants of our “exclusionary” faith; guiding people to critically examine what they believe, what they know and what the Bible might actually say to us? Opportunities to grow in this area abound and I would encourage you to engage, with love and care, those that might be directed your way. Please respond to me and let me know your thoughts in the coming days.

Steven Hieronymus

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Keith Tooley - July 12th, 2011 at 11:40 AM

I agree that we must "speak the truth" and it is even more important to "do it in a loving manner," which is Jesus' teaching. Without love for the person we are sharing the truth with - we sound like a very loud, obnoxious instrument, according to the bible.

Your response to the writer of the article was thoughtful and rational. You planted a seed with this person, and left the door open for future dialogue.

Thanks for speaking the truth and not "letting it go" any more.
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