I’ve never been in the back of the room at a church meeting, but I can almost see it. “Hey,” they say, “How are we going to get people saved? We’ve got to figure out how to get them to say the prayers.”
I think we’re used to thinking in terms of numbers. It’s only human to play the numbers game. I mean, think about it. In the baseball world, or anywhere in sports, the concept is, “How many fans can we get in the seats?” After all, that’s where the business is. And so we see it in the churches. “How many butts can we get in the pews?” After all, there’s our tithe.
And you see that a lot, man! You see churches saying, “Fifty people got saved today!” Or, “One hundred people got saved today!” But being a Christian is a lifestyle that we live, not a decision that we make. It doesn’t end with being saved. That’s where it starts. We should be asking, “How are we going to get people to live a life of Jesus?” That’s the concept, because that is joy. That is true joy.
Too often someone will say they’re a Christian because at some point in their life they said, “Oh, I believe Jesus is Lord.” They made that decision at some moment in time. But how does it affect their lifestyle throughout the next 30, 50, or 70 years of life? It doesn’t. I think that’s why you see Christian marriages failing at the same rate that you see non-Christian marriages failing. Using this type of salvation theology, Christianity is not a lifestyle that people live. It’s just a decision they made.
Confessing that Jesus is Lord is not what makes you a Christian. No, no. Confessing that Jesus is Lord is what says that you’re saved. Yes, congratulations, you admitted that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins and rose again three days later. The resurrection is what empowers you. It gets you the salvation that you’re looking for. Justification by faith, great, that says you’re in the family of God. That means you’re justified. But justification by faith does not fulfill you.
The life of Jesus is a life of discipleship. A disciple of Jesus is someone that lives this life by living as Jesus lived. Scot McKnight expands on these exact same concepts in his latest book, The King Jesus Gospel. McKnight writes that if you end by confessing that Jesus is Lord, you’re not going to feel fulfilled in this life.
If being saved, justified by faith, was the whole of Christianity, then the world would be a completely different place. In the Psalms it says that the King’s throne is made up of justice and righteousness. If salvation is all that’s needed, then Christians would all live a life of justice and righteousness, by virtue of being saved. And we don’t do that very well. You can see that. Not all of us have that mentality.
If the life of a Christian began and ended with confessing that Jesus is Lord, then love and mercy and grace would be lived out through all Christians everywhere. Salvation alone would make us God’s instruments of love and of mercy and of grace. That decision we made to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior would be enough. We wouldn’t have to do anything else.
But we don’t love very easily. We don’t do that. We don’t show much mercy. In fact, McKnight talked to a number of non-Christians and found that they’ll tell you sometimes Christians are the meanest people they’ve ever met!
So it can’t just be justification and salvation that makes us different. I believe it is a Spirit-led lifestyle. If you feel empty, like you can’t accomplish something in life, it’s because you don’t understand why you’re here. I believe it is the lifestyle of Jesus that helps us understand. See you Friday.