“Becoming a Christian” versus “Becoming a Republican”

This article has nothing to do with politics… so if that’s why you came, you might as well leave.

No.  This has to do with how one goes about becoming a genuine Christian.

Over the past ten years or so I have seen SO MANY people —  whom I LOVE — who have claimed for years to be Christians — seemingly change their minds and go into perpetual lifestyles that are contrary to the Bible.  Some of them have made public proclamations that they no longer believe in God/the Bible/Jesus/ etc.  Some still mentally agree with the principles, but they are just not living them out in their lives.  One still goes to church and yet lives another life outside church.  One in particular has gone completely into atheism, and is very angry at all the false claims she feels Christianity made to her.  Several have just slipped into apathy.  Several have committed adultery on their spouses.  Several have now divorced their spouses.  A very large number are now living in sexual relationship with someone they are not married to.  Some have children out of wedlock.

Now, some of you who are reading this may be familiar with the subject of “false conversion.”  (If not, you can listen to a brilliant message about it here:http://www.livingwaters.com/learn/trueandfalse.htm.)  However, when I have tried to explain this concept to some of my friends, I have been met with everything from blank stares to outright denial that anyone could be a false convert.

Very recently it struck me why this is.  Many people view the process of “becoming a Christian” as very similar to that of “becoming a Republican.”

Here are the steps:

1.  Learn what Republicans believe.
2.  Agree with the tenants of Republicanism (whatever those might be?).
3.  Mark your voting registration card “Republican.”
4.  Start proclaiming yourself to be a Republican.
5.  Live as a Republican.

Ok… Maybe I missed a few steps in there.  Like, you might have to start watching Fox News religiously, or maybe you have to like Rush Limbaugh… or chant “drill, baby, drill”… or whatever.  The point is, that if you do those things, you can consider yourself a Republican.

Here are the steps that many think make you a Christian:

1.  Learn what Christians believe.
2.  Agree with the tenants of Christianity.  (Jesus was God.  He died for sinners on the cross.  Bad is bad.  Good is good.)
3.  Go through a ceremony.  (In some circles you repeat a prayer, in others you couple that with baptism… etc.)
4.  Start proclaiming yourself to be a Christian.
5.  Live as a Christian.

And just like the other, I may have missed a few steps in there.  Like, you might have to put a fish bumper sticker on your car, or maybe you have to listen only to Christian radio stations… or wear a WDJD wrist band… or go out evangelizing every Friday night… or whatever.  The point is, that if you do those things, you can consider yourself a Christian.

Right?  That’s how it’s done… isn’t it?

This is why the subject of “false conversion” absolutely makes NO SENSE to this one girlfriend of mine.  All these people we know did all those steps, and by definition that made them Christians.  Right?  Right?  Right?  …No.  Because that is not AT ALL how one becomes a Christian.

Perhaps I’ve gone too far in saying that.  You do  need to learn what Christians believe, and obviously you need to agree with that.  However mental knowledge and accent cannot save you, me, or anyone else.  One of these friends who committed adultery on his spouse was an ordained minister who had many years of Bible College under his belt.  Believe me, he has plenty of Bible knowledge… Oh yeah… he’s got a big fat head full of Bible knowledge… and ZERO understanding of genuine salvation.  James tells us that even the demons BELIEVE… and shudder.

Becoming a Christian is nothing like becoming a Republican because is is not about mentally agreeing with a set of facts or morality codes.  It is about a miraculous work that is done from start to finish by God alone.

When someone is genuinely saved, God, Himself, takes the bitter, sin-darkened, vile, hard, crusty, lifeless heart (or “soul” if you will) out of a person.  And in it’s place He inserts a brand new, sparkling, living heart.  The dead shell now takes its first gasping breath and comes to life.  New eyes open for the first time to peer out of that face… new ears listen… a new mouth speaks.  New.  New.  New.  New life.  New birth.  The old has gone, the new has come.  This was not done by a human being’s weak, puny brain mentally choosing one lifestyle philosophy over another.  This was done by God, and it is MIRACULOUS.

This is part of the reason I don’t like bringing unbelievers to church.  I’m afraid they might LIKE it.  I’m desperately afraid they might enjoy the teaching, be entertained by the music, learn to love the people, and begin to change their lives to match this new, beautiful, lifestyle philosophy.  …And then die and go to Hell forever.

Imagine this cruel trick.  You invite ten friends over to try a new, knock-your-socks-off, candy.  To nine of them, you give a shiny red jawbreaker that is the absolute best thing they’ve ever put in their mouths.  But to one of them, you give a shiny red marble.  They all put it in their mouths.  Nine people are raving about how wonderful this is.  One person is wondering why he is not having the same experience.  Maybe, as in The Emperor’s New Clothes, the one person will feel peer pressure enough to nod his head in agreement with the exclamations of the nine.  Maybe the one will go along with it, learning to say the same things as the others. Maybe he will think that he just needs to lick it more, or wait a little longer, or bite it … or … or …

One girl I knew in college spit that tasteless marble out and screamed in anger that she was tired of being tricked and she wasn’t going to play this idiotic game anymore!  A few of the others I have known and loved have spit the marble out and kept it in a safe place nearby.  It’s kind of become a treasured relic — a magic they know was supposed to work… but never seemed to work for them.

In the same way there are literally thousands and thousands of people in the churches of the world, who have agreed mentally with the philosophy of Christianity.  They have gone through the required ceremony.  They are now proclaiming themselves to be Christians.  And for many of them they will perhaps go their whole lives with that marble in their mouth, trying to say all the things they think they are supposed to say, but knowing nothing of the miraculous re-birth… never really tasting salvation.

I am desperate for those I love to know that you don’t become a Christian the same way you become a Republican.  Christianity is not a moral lifestyle philosophy that one adopts or agrees with.  It is something else.  It is a transformation not done by human minds or wills, but by God.

Cry out to God to change you!  See your sin for what it is!  Tell him you are dead and need HIS LIFE to be poured into your veins!  Repent in tears!  Beg Jesus to cover your filth with his precious blood, cleansing you forever, making you the adopted child of God!  Beg God to save you… and don’t stop begging till you KNOW He has given you the REBIRTH of your soul.  Don’t stop until you KNOW you have been changed into a new creation with new desires.

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