Christian Gangsters and Other Such Nonsense #TraditionallySouthside

I just read a disturbing article that immediately sent my thoughts into overdrive. I will not give credit to the news organization that published it or to the writer that put his thoughts on paper. I will tell you that it had to do with “secret Christians” among us. His point was that it was such a surprise for many to discover that Prince was a Christian. Now, folks, I am not the judge of who is a Christian and who is not, but I have a problem with this statement on so many fronts. And by the way, Jesus said that it is by our fruit that we are known. He was referring not only to the good deeds that we do but also to the way that we live our lives. Let me try to run down my thoughts on this article one at a time.

I am convinced that the greatest problem with American Christianity is our belief that we can become a Christian and still live like the world. The Bible is clear. When we become Christians, God begins a work of transformation in our lives that culminates in us one day being the exact image of Jesus. He changes our thoughts, our desires, our vocabularies, our actions, etc. Everything about us is changed, so much so that we despise our old way of life. There are many verses that describe the Christian life as putting off the old ways and putting on the new. We are to stop doing sinful things and start living holy lives. Now let me be clear. Lest you think that I am being legalistic, know this: our hearts are transformed and we want to make these changes. We don’t make these changes in order to be saved. We make these changes, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because we are saved.

The second greatest problem with American Christianity, then, is that we tell the world that they can do the same. I am reminded of the story of the gangster that went to an evangelistic meeting and was so moved by the message that he went forward at the end of the service to make a profession of faith. He was stunned, however, when he found out that his life would have to change. He truly believed that he could continue to live his life the way it was as a Christian gangster. Could it be that he saw others making such a profession of faith without a change in lifestyle? I don’t know what he thought, but I know that by our pronouncement of salvation on those whose lives never change can only lead to more of the “converts of hell” of whom Jesus spoke.

But there was one more thing about this article that hit me hard, and it was the idea of secret Christians. We are called to be change agents in this world by both living and proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. We are never called to be undercover Christians. In fact, our lives are supposed to be so radically different that people will notice. We are not to hide our lights under a basket; we are to shout from the mountaintops that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. And like Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, once said:

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

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