But there is one objection that I struggle with overcoming. That is when people say that they don't want to follow Christ because of "Christians" they have experienced in life. Hypocrites. Self-righteous. Holier than thou. The list goes on and on, but the essence is the same. People don't want to follow Jesus because "Christians" don't always follow Jesus.
Now, before you overreact and start quoting bumper stickers (i.e. "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven") let me explain. I understand that all sin and fall short of the glory of God. However, some don't even aim for the glory of God. It is hard to "fall short" when you are not even aiming for the target. There are a lot of Christians who wear the jewelry, sit in the pew, and dress the part. But many of these people fail to pick up their cross and follow Him. They would rather look like a Christian than live like one. This can be a dangerous proposition because it is dishonest. In his second (recorded) letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes that we are representatives of Christ. That His followers are to be His ambassadors in this world. Our duty is to point people to the Christ. We must do that in the way we think, the way we act, and the way we speak. It is more than words; it is action!
Mark Steele writes in his book flashBANG...
Those who say, "I follow Jesus; follow me to Him," while not being responsible to actually live the truth consistently are in essence leading mankind somewhere else that God did not intend.
Where are we leading people? I ask this question to each of us as individuals and as a body. Are we leading people to the Christ? Or are we leading them to our self-selected, self-imposed vision of what "Christianity" looks like? Are we making them followers of Christ or followers of "the church?" The church is not the essence of Christianty. We should not practice Churchianity.
As I finish this rambling I guess I would look at my own life and realize that too often I have been all about the church and not about the Christ. Jesus is taking me on this journey that continues to draw me closer to Him and away from the obstacles that I have placed in my own life. I have allowed non-central items to act as central items and distract me from the real core of Christianty, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Maybe you are in a similar situation. Are you often torn between religion and relationship? Or maybe you're torn between church and Christ? None of these things are inherently bad, it just depends on who or what has preeminance. Our relationship with Jesus should shape our religion, not the other way around. Christ should define the church; the church should not define the Christ.
Are you an obstable to the gospel? I believe we all are at times. But as we are drawn closer to the cross we learn John's motto that, "He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." (John 3:30)
Become less so that Jesus may be everything to the world.