So I’ve been pretty worried by some of things I’m starting to hear a lot from Christians that I just cannot imagine coming out of the mouth of Jesus.
I mean, I get what people are trying to say so I’ve kept on the quieter side but I’m at the point now of just wanting to shout “Okay that’s enough! Jokes over now guys. We had a good laugh. Let’s call it a day and speak the truth now.”
There’s some really genuinely worrying ideas lurking in the back of these sayings that I think need addressing.
Like I said, I get why people are saying some things but I still think that ultimately they’re really damaging and lead people away from God and the gospel so at the risk of an outcry of “you don’t understand” or “you’re being judgemental” comments, I’ll start with a blog.
#1 “Put Yourself First”
This tends to sound like “It’s really important to look after yourself so you can look after other people.” “Make sure you don’t burn yourself out serving God or others.” God wants you to achieve your goals and your dreams.”
Well, not entirely…
Okay, okay, put your pitchforks down. You’re not nearly as annoyed as you might be by the end of this post so you might want to select a more malicious weapon…
You’ll struggle find anyone who will actually say “Put yourself first” straight up and it will probably be disguised as something more subtle but behind a lot of “Christian” talk, this is hiding.
So what’s so bad about it? Shouldn’t we look after ourselves? Shouldn’t we care for our bodies and nurture them? Shouldn’t we protect our mental health? Don’t we need to love ourselves first so that we can love others well?
Of course we should look after ourselves. Of course we should take care of our bodies and our minds. I just don’t think the way we do this is by putting ourselves first.
#2 “Get Rid of Toxic People”
You’re most likely to hear this coming from a stage with a very wealthy, probably loud, probably sweating preacher who is telling you how to make it in life.
You’ll probably feel really built up and encouraged to cut yourself off from people who cause you problems. Maybe they’re not nice to you, maybe they’re a drain on the resources of your time, energy and money. Maybe you just don’t like them.
They’re holding you back! They’re smothering your light! They’re stealing your joy! So you should cut them loose right?
For the love of God no!
If you think that being a Christian is all about you then you honestly need to start again. Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners. He said the healthy don’t need a doctor, the sick do. So where exactly are you going?
If we keep running away from broken people to find healthy people, we might find that Jesus isn’t there.
#3 “Live Your Best Life Now”
Some of my friends say this as a joke now. It gets hash-tagged on holiday snaps, clothing purchases and gourmet meals.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these things but it tends to have nothing to do with God. Often times it’s way more about what the world values as worthwhile than what we see in the life and example of Jesus.
We know that chasing the things of the world does not lead us to God but away from Him. Jesus asks us what’s the point in gaining the whole world if you lose your soul and warns us that we can’t serve God and money at the same time.
Didn’t Jesus come to give us life and life to the full? Well yeah…but when we talk about living our best life now, we’re often thinking about worldly success and thinking about ourselves aren’t we? Most of us aren’t thinking “the best life I can live until Jesus returns is in giving myself to the service of God and people.
Said No Saviour Ever
Are you upset? You might be totally justified in being upset. There are many other sides to this conversation. Feel free to let me know about them in the comments section. But let me just say a few more things.
The gospel is not a guarantee of a comfortable life. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that God is going to give you all the things in the world He wants to save you from.
The gospel is a call to follow Jesus and we know for a fact that He was not about His own will, His own comfort or His own hopes and dreams.
Jesus was all about the will of the Father. That doesn’t immediately sound like fun to us because we’re really attached to ourselves and our agenda for for life and we don’t really know much about God.
A life with Christ at the centre can seem illogical to the world but He is the King of the kingdom where you die to live and you give away to gain. He is the King who made Himself a servant and now has the name above every other name.
The issue with a lot of these “Christian” thoughts is that while they do contain some wisdom and truth, they also appeal to our selfishness and self-focus. That’s why I think they’re really unhelpful and we really need to make sure we’re being led by the Holy Spirit in our response to them and not by our flesh.
Jesus calls us to suffer with Him and when we avoid that we miss out on the deep intimacy and joy that comes from what Paul calls “the fellowship of His suffering”.
There is something so powerful about giving ourselves to people and situations that God cares about when it doesn’t directly benefit us and even makes us uncomfortable. There is an invitation to us, to care about what He cares about and to be with Him where He is, in the lives of the hurting.
What if we start asking Jesus to give us the grace that enables us to lay down our lives for others daily as He did?
What if we start asking Jesus to give us the love that He has for the people we find difficult in our lives so that we can serve them and lead them to Him?
What if we start asking Jesus to give us the vision that sees beyond this world with the Father’s eyes to determine what is really important in eternity?
The Jesus that says these sorts of things doesn’t look like the Jesus of the Bible. That’s actually a pretty scary thought considering how many of us talk and think like this…
Thanks for reading.