Saint Paul, a trailbrazer for Christianity in many parts of Asia and Europe once dictated these words to Tertius, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world.” (Romans 12:2). Almost prophetically, Paul warns against the lust of the flesh, the apathy of the mind, and the corruption of the soul. The same Paul blows a trumpet of warning later on in his final epistle. There he wrote, ”In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

This calls to mind the reality in the Christian world today. Many Christians today are Christians because they want the Savior Jesus, not the Lord Jesus. Many Christians are Christians out of convenience. They want the crown of eternal life but are not willing to partake of the labor that makes them worthy of it. Ask any Christian from any church today and they can easily point out the lack of conviction prevalent in their midst.

Here’s a worthy question to ask

“How much of your time do you habitually spend for the sake of others?”

Remember when Jesus was asked of the greatest commandment, he responded that apart from loving God with everything you’ve got, you also have to love your neighbor as yourself? (Matthew 22: 34-40) There is no doubt that Christians love God. But how much of that love flows out that they are motivated to be intentional? Many Christians are often selfish. They often seek their own gain. They barely toil. They focus too much on themselves, less on others. Most of the time they spend each day is for their benefit. The same reason why Allah of Islam is inferior to Yahweh, because a monistic deity prior to creation can only love himself. A selfish love is no love at all. Which begs the question.

“How many Christians in your midst are sacrificially intentional in ministering to you?”

Not many? None? See why? Because intentionality is the overflow of one’s love for God. A Christian will not be intentional unless his zeal for God compels him to do so. Which shows an evident contrast of Paul’s intentionality to just about every professing Christian you meet out there. This raises an obvious question,

“How do YOU measure up in your intentionality against Paul?”

It is worthy to note that Christians in the first century are a persecuted minority. To be a Christian in the first century is to sign your death sentence. The bar is set so high that almost all Christians today will NOT want to be Christians in the first century. For instance, Polycarp, a disciple of John, when threatened with death for being a Christian, is recorded to say this, ”Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?” [1] He was eventually sentenced to death by burning. Upon which he prayed, “I bless you Father for judging me worthy of this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ.” [2]

It is to no surprise that Jesus said in Luke 14:27 that “whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Which brings out a question every Christian must answer:

How heavy is your cross?

Very few Christians will be proud of their answer. Why? Because many self professing Christians today are Christians out of convenience. They want the prize without running the race. They are willing to be with the Holy One without working on their own holiness (1 Timothy 4:7). God commanded men to be both holy (1 Peter 1:16) and perfect (Matthew 5:48) just as He is. There is an obvious lack of personal discipline towards holiness in the Christian world today, and so the crosses they bear are light. A maxim goes like this: the weight of the mortal cross is inversely proportional to the weight of the eternal cross. Get it? Bear the heavy cross now, so that the same will be light in the life to come. Bear a light cross now, you can be sure of a heavier cross up ahead.

I just recently went out with a few Christian friends for a drink. I ordered coffee, they ordered alcohol. When I told one of them privately why I do not drink, I was glad with his response. He said, “Yeah, I know drinking affects my testimony. I’m still struggling with this. I hope I can completely let go one day.” I didn’t have to quote any verse. I didn’t have to argue against anything. Because a Christian who sincerely wants to be holy and perfect knows that he is neither one or the other and is therefore striving to work on his weaknesses that he may present himself to God holy (Romans 12:1). Many professing Christians will justify, argue, and point an accusing finger at those who preach holiness by branding them with legalism without even knowing the difference between that word and responsible stewardship. They fail to recognize that they can be branded back as being licentious by the same group of people they point their fingers to. Much has already been said about this on the previous blog that requires no further repetition. Suffice to say, he who refuses to pursue holiness by interpreting the Bible to suit their present lifestyle is not only warned of danger (2 Peter 3:16), they are also cautioned of both conceit and deceit (1 Timothy 1:5-7).

Which goes to the final point. Christians without convictions will ultimately be rejected by Christ (Revelation 3:16). Christians are not called to an easy life (John 16:33), they are called to a meaningful life ( John 15:5). Why do faithful Christians toil? Why to they labor? Because they know that Christ is worth it all. Again I say this:

CHRIST IS WORTH IT ALL

And so as Christians, unless God thinks you’re a Christian, chances are, you aren’t. Here’s a litmus test:

“Can you say to all men with God as your witness, to follow you as you follow Christ?”

That’s scripture by the way, quoted from 1 Corinthians 11:1. The Christian adage today that says “Don’t look at me, look at Christ” is woefully misleading. This is not how Christians think in the first century. They embody Christianity in the same way Paul did: presenting themselves worthy of emulation for they themselves emulate Christ. Were they perfect? No. But they make every conscious effort to be.

 

[1] Martyrdom of Polycarp chapter 9.

[2] Martyrdom of Polycarp chapter 14.

 

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