FUNDIES, FAKES, AND SO-CALLED CHRISTIANS
by Jefferson Bethke
I was watching TV the other day when I came across really angry people on the news talking about God's judgment and wrath. They held up signs that read, "God Hates Fags." Confused and angry, I turned the channel. On the next channel was one of those music award shows. After I watched a few acceptance speeches, I noticed each artist was thanking God for the award. I thought, Hmm, never knew any of them to be the religious type.
To be honest, I didn't know which one made me angrier: that weird person on the street corner who tells everyone they're going to hell—with signs so outdated you'd think they used those same ones when they picketed Jesus' funeral—or the hip-hop artist who thanks Jesus for winning a Grammy for his song about naked women, Grey Goose, and stacks of money. I'm convinced that every time God hears one of those speeches he gets sick.
Sadly, those are two of the most common representations of Jesus that drive many people away. Either people cant possibly bear to be in the same family as the wacko, or they think Jesus is irrelevant and doesn't actually change anyone's life—like the rapper giving the acceptance speech. Both are wrong, though.
All the reasons my peers oppose Jesus are the same reasons Jesus opposed both the hyperfundamentalist and the fake. We discussed in chapter 1 how he opposed the self-righteous Pharisees, but think about how his preaching repels people who want to wear the cross and not live it. In the book of Mark, Jesus is feeding four thousand people with only a few loaves of bread and some fish. You can imagine the crowd's awe and enjoyment. Jesus was becoming a rock star. You better believe he would have had TMZ following him at this point.
From there he goes and heals a man at Bethsaida. Everyone sees Jesus' power and wants more. So what does he do?
Does he revel in the attention? Leverage his fame as an evangelistic tool? Ask people to bow their heads and close their eyes and raise their hands for him?
He actually does the opposite. He says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."
If Jesus wanted to grow a church, didn't he know telling people they need to daily pick up an instrument of torture, death, and shame wasn't the way to do it? Jesus opposed the Pharisaical legalism of. his time, but he also opposed the watered-down, flimsy, cultural religion. He was essentially saying, "I know my miracles are awesome. I know I have immense power. But don't follow me for the wrong reason. The cost is high. The road to follow me is tough, it's painful, it hurts, and you might even face death, but I promise there is joy on the other side. Do you want in?"
To some degree we all tend to misrepresent Jesus. Are you sometimes cold, aloof, and prideful? Are you inclined to see Jesus as your puppet giving you freedom to do whatever you'd like "in his name"? Or maybe for you church is just a hobby or obligation, no different from getting a haircut. Or maybe you love ideas about Jesus rather than Jesus himself.
I only recently realized how much I fell into one of the distortions. In the depths of my heart, if I'm brutally honest, I still wickedly think I am better than other people. You know how I know? When something bad happens to someone I don't like, I think, Yes! He finally got what he deserved. I forget that if I got what I deserve, I'd be in hell. Thank you, Jesus, for grace.
Sometimes I cling to religious rules and prideful self-righteousness rather than a humble living faith. We continually need to ask ourselves, do we really look like Jesus? Do we smell like him? Are we so close to his heart that people sense him when they are around us? My prayer is that I'm always seen as a poor, feeble dude who has found life, rather than as an arrogant, prideful guy who has all the answers.
Technically, the term fundamentalism means "adhering to or living by basic truths." By that definition most of us are fundamentalists. But the term in our modern American culture has taken on a more negative connotation that misrepresents Christians. For the sake of clarity, whenever I say fundamentalist hi this section, I'm talking about that common negative caricature that is so prevalent today.
So who's a fundamentalist by our culture's standards? Everyone knows one when they see one. The typical caricature is the person who wears suits, plays a pipe organ, and reads the Left Behind series in some cabin in the woods. He's the guy on Larry King who makes me cringe when he's the "Christian" voice on the show. He sounds mean, bigoted, hateful, and sometimes stupid.
A fundamentalist tends to add rules to the Bible. Even though there are few to no credible passages…… Caring for the poor and serving the downtrodden? Who cares as long as you don't swear.
Man, if only they could have told Jesus that before he performed his first miracle of turning water into wine.
Obviously there are Christians who truly love Jesus and who also hold strong convictions about tattoos and drinking, including some of my friends, my family, and my pastors. In no way am I poking fun at people who hold those convictions. I am referring to those who seem to hold their personal convictions higher than actual life-and-death salvation issues. The essence of a fundamentalist, in the negative sense of the word, is self-centered, basing personal righteousness solely on personal behavior. What they do defines who they are. They are slaves to their self-imposed morality and in turn become joyless and hypocritical.
It's passages such as the one found in the book of Matthew that make me wonder if Jesus was speaking with today's culture in mind. In it Jesus condemns the fundamentalist Jews of his day by saying to them, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have, neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness."
I find it quite humorous to think they actually thought they earned God's favor by giving over little pinches from their spice racks.
But then, don't we do the same? Maybe more of us are like the stereotypical fundamentalist than we realize. What do we as American Christians offer that different cultures would probably laugh at?
We offer God good Christian behavior, but we neglect weightier matters like justice and mercy. We are so focused on legislating how the gay community can live that we don't show them grace, kindness, and respect. We talk a lot about tithing, but the single mom next door can't pay her rent. We make sure to have our quiet times every morning, but we couldn't care less about actually conversing with Jesus. We have never said the word out loud, but we have never prayed for our local homeless community either.
All of that is fundamentalism. And the truth is, it's a terrible version of Christianity. There's no joy for the person practicing it, and it draws no one to Jesus.
It reminds me of a trick I used to do in high school. Don't worry, I wear it now, but in high school I hated to wear my seat belt. I was getting so many seat belt tickets that whenever I saw a cop on the road, I'd quickly pull the seat belt across my chest, without ever actually clicking it in, and hold it by my right hip until the cop passed. Then it hit me one day: I was "buckling" simply not to get caught, when I should have been doing it to protect my life. Not to mention I was exerting just as much energy—if not more, since I had to hold it there—as I would have if I had properly worn my seat belt.
I sacrificed real safety for the appearance of safety—and it was more work! That is the essence of fundamentalism— living by the rules to stay out of trouble rather than seeing the rules as tools to bring us into intimacy and joy. We exchange relationship with God for a bunch of church games. We give an appearance of something that doesn't actually save, and even takes more work. Why would we do that? Apart from Jesus the whole Christian culture is bizarre. Without Jesus it's just a bunch of weird rituals, tiny cups, and stale crackers.
This distortion of Christianity doesn't work because it's neither what God is after, nor what God is like. All through the Gospels, we see a God of celebration, a God who throws parties.4 Sometimes it's even commanded. Now, commanding a party might sound legalistic, but, hey, if we are going to be legalistic about something, why not be legalistic about having some fun? After all, the rest of eternity is going to be a wedding feast where we enjoy one another and celebrate forever. Whenever I walk by the street preachers, I laugh under my breath, picturing just how uncomfortable they are going to be in heaven when everyone else is partying it up.
I once heard Matt Chandler, a prominent pastor in Dallas, compare religion to a bad marriage. He said, imagine you and your significant other are thinking about getting married, and so you seek a married couple for advice on how to do it right. What if when you approach them about how their marriage is doing, the husband says, "Well, it really sucks. Her cooking is terrible. I haven't loved her in years, but divorce isn't an option, so we are still together." Do you think Alyssa and I would think, Aww, that sounds great. I can't wait to have a marriage like that! Of course not.
So it is with God. There is no glory brought to God's name when people are doing something because it's an obligation, with no real enjoyment of their Creator. This is why the people on the street corner aren't speaking for God. Heaven isn't a place for people who are scared of hell; it's for people who love Jesus. The reason heaven is heavenly—full of joy, life, and bliss—is because we'll be with Jesus.
I remember reading the Bible again in college and absolutely loving the apostle Paul. He pulled no punches, spoke sharply, and usually had quite the sense of humor. The one passage that blew all the others out of the water is in the book of Galatians. Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Galatia who had begun to say Jesus' sacrifice wasn't enough to save and that believers had to add to it to make it effective. There was a group during Paul's time called the Judaizers who claimed you had to trust in Jesus for salvation and hold to Jewish laws such as circumcision to have a perfect relationship with God.
Basically you had to become a Jew before you could convert to Christianity. As if the ones who just trusted in Jesus by faith were rookies or something.
Paul says the Galatians had missed the point. They had fallen away from the purity of the gospel. They had forgotten it's not Jesus plus their good behavior, but Jesus alone. Even in Bible times, Christians were quick to abandon the pure gospel. We so deeply want to contribute to our own salvation that we become intoxicated by the rules. Neither Jesus nor Paul allows that though. Jesus knew our tendency to emphasize external behavior when the gospel is a matter of transformation and faith in the heart.
I think the more focused Christians are on external behavior, the greater the possibility they are trying to make up for what they lack in their hearts. When we have no real transforming power of Jesus in our hearts, we hold up a list of external behaviors so someone can look at us and identify us as Christians. We humans prefer the tangible to the intangible any day. We prefer the flesh to the Spirit, the law to the heart.
The apostle Paul answers the Galatians by fighting verse after verse to show that we receive the Spirit of Jesus by faith as a gift, so why would we now think we could earn or work to keep it? It gets really good toward the end when Paul no longer holds back and shows his frustration: "But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!"
Did you catch that? Paul wished they would "emasculate" themselves. A quick Google search will tell you exactly what emasculate means. It means to take away one's manhood. Ouch. If the apostle Paul were around today, I wouldn't be surprised if he got kicked out of a few churches for a potty mouth like that.
I know circumcision is a weird spiritual issue for us today, but we aren't that different from the first-century Christians. Today some churches uphold baptism as their thing, some churches uphold how you dress, some churches uphold whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian, but Paul says it's by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone. That's it. Water doesn't save us. Circumcision doesn't save us. Calvin doesn't save us. Jesus saves us.
Fakes are also pretty easy to spot. Most of them raised their hands in a Christian youth camp. If they were really solid, they raised their hands each night of the camp, getting saved all five nights of the week. They probably wear crosses around their necks, own a few Bibles, and check the Christian box under religious views on Facebook. Once they get into their twenties, fakes usually like to refer to themselves as spiritual not religious. While being a Christian involves being spiritual, most of the time the fakes use this description to forfeit any real accountability.
At the university I went to my first year, freshmen were encouraged to attend Bible studies. Because everyone on my hall went, I felt obligated to conform so I wouldn't be looked at as "that guy."
Prayed a prayer? Check. Regularly attended Bible studies? Check. Memorized John 3:16? Check. Had a necklace or bracelet with a cross or fish? Check. Actually loved, pursued, and enjoyed Jesus more than anything? Well, not so much.
One particular night at Bible study stands out in my mind. It probably hadn't even been fifteen minutes after it finished, but I was already down by the beach smoking weed with some friends. My conscience began to accuse me of being a fake and a hypocrite, but I did my best to suppress it. I quickly realized I wasn't the only one. Going to a very conservative Christian college my freshman year, I was highly aware of the fakes. Takes one to know one, right? Most of us on the baseball team would pray after every practice only to be wrapped around a toilet throwing up just a few hours later. There were plenty of times we would sit around smoking weed on a Sunday, discussing whether or not we were going to go to the school's chapel the next the morning. And here's the thing: we legitimately thought we were Christians. When you are a hypocrite, you don't really like to stop and think about it, ya know?
Being in a college environment for the last four years of my life, I know hypocrisy drives people away from the church almost more than anything. The author Brennan Manning famously said, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their mouths and walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle."6 In America anyone can say they're a Christian, and it means nothing. Unlike living in the Middle East as a Christian, no one gets stoned or beheaded here because they say they love Jesus. Sometimes I wonder what real persecution of Christians would reveal in America. Persecution, like fire, burns up the weak elements (wood and hay) but actually purifies the strong ones (silver and gold).
It still shocks me that when you approach fakes and ask pointed questions, they immediately get defensive and tell you about some past decision rather than what's going on in the present. Later in college when I was actually following Jesus, I had a friend on the baseball team who had numerous religious tattoos and wore a cross around his neck. When the team talked about deep spiritual things on the bus rides, he would be the first to give his opinion. But he was also the most explicit about his party life. He was the first to talk about how many girls he had slept with that weekend and how "crazy drunk" he got the night before.
I remember approaching him and simply asking in all gentleness, "Hey, man, just wondering how you see Jesus lining up with your lifestyle? Do you really think they're compatible?"
Instantly he went on about how he had gone to church his whole life and raised his hand to get "saved" when he was a kid.
We don't justify current bad behavior by citing past good behavior in other areas of our lives. No one does that with marriage. When a husband is cheating on his wife and is confronted, I'm guessing he doesn't say, "We got married ten years ago, so I can do whatever I want now. I gave my vows, right? That's proof that I'm a good husband."
So why do we do that with Jesus?
What would it look like if we treated our spouses or friends the way we treat God? What if we gave them 10 percent of all our money, talked to them a lot on Sundays, told everyone we were dating or married to them, but in exchange, asked if we could do whatever we wanted on all the other days? How would that work for us? If we did a few good things for them during the week, would we be free to then sleep with whomever we want, not talk to them, and lie to others about it all? Of course not. Yet that's what we do with God, and somehow we think he's down with that.
Some people think, I got saved when I was ten, so Jesus is my homeboy right? Well, yes, but probably not in the way they mean it. He isn't okay with your sin. In fact, he hates it when you sin. From the moment we take a breath, we are cosmic rebels who commit holy treason against the Creator of the universe every second of every day. We give our allegiance to sex, alcohol, sports teams, and religion—but not Jesus. Shouldn't it make us tremble that every second of every day our lives are spitting in God's face, telling him we'd rather have his stuff than him? But he still keeps loving and pursuing us.
THE REVERSE LEGALISTS
Self-righteousness is exactly that—thinking that your righteousness (your standing before God and others) relies only on yourself. You think you can earn it. You think it's about what you do or don't do. Because of this you are driven to act only in ways that continue to prop up how awesome you think you are. It produces a very prideful I-have-all-the-answers-and-you-are-all-idiots type of arrogance.
According to this definition, there might be some "religious" people in your midst who don't dress the part. Some of the most self-righteous people I have ever met have been twenty-year-old hipsters. Some of the most self-righteous people today are in the young generation. Arrogance seeps out of college campuses more than anywhere else.
I was sitting in an undergrad philosophy classroom when the discussion seemed to turn on me in a second. We were all giving our points of view and dialoguing about the issue at hand. As a Christian I offered my thoughts from a Christian worldview. Immediately I felt the distaste in the room as if I had just said something horribly wrong. Someone said, "You can't possibly think your way is the only way? How arrogant of you."
But I always wonder why we Christians are the ones who get slapped with the too-narrow-and-exclusive card when everyone's point of view is the same. Think about it: Every worldview is exclusive to itself. Even by that classmate saying I was arrogant for thinking my way was right, she was doing the same thing—saying I was wrong, and she was right. How arrogant of her—not really, but according to her own logic, yes.
I remember shooting back with a question, "How am I prideful for placing myself under an outside authority that has a track record of two thousand years with millions, if not billions, of people doing the same, when you seem to do whatever you want in life as an authority unto yourself simply because you are your own god? How does that make me more prideful? How am I the arrogant one?"
Another time someone asked me, "Why would I become a Christian? They're all just hypocrites!" To which I responded, "Yes, we are. Everyone is. Unless—surely you are not saying— that everyone is a hypocrite except you, right?"
In the Christian world, this self-righteous attitude is just as prevalent. It's in me, too, and I pray to God daily that he would eradicate the spirit within me that thinks I'm an authority unto myself. Because again, of course, we can think fundamentalists only wear suits and play boring Christian music, or we can address fundamentalism for what it is— an issue of the heart. Remember, fundamentalism is adding rules to the Bible, or elevating things beyond how Scripture elevates them.
There is a weird subsection of young Christians today who are almost reverse fundamentalists, but they are still fundamentalists. They look at the older generation who say in good conscience Christians shouldn't drink beer, and they respond, "We are definitely drinking beer." Or they see those Christians who say you have to dress up for church service, and they say, "We are only going to wear skinny jeans and V-neck T-shirts in church."
They are better defined by what they are against than by what they are for. They are doing the exact same thing as what they are defining themselves against. They are elevating behavior, clothing, and other secondary issues as requirements to gain access into the kingdom. It's a sickness in all of us to put our righteousness in absolutely anything except Jesus, and if we think we aren't doing that, it usually means it's even worse.
The fundamentalists of our parents' generation are still around, but they are not nearly as prevalent today. Fundamentalists don't always wear suits. Sometimes they wear skinny jeans. Sometimes they say you have to be able to drink beer to be a real Christian. Sometimes they only allow dirty grunge rock in their church service and make flannels mandatory to play in the worship band. Here's, a quick note though: if you care more about flaunting your Christian freedom than promoting Christian unity, you're probably not free. You are actually a slave to your so-called freedom.
True freedom is being able to give up all your rights for another out of love. Just ask Jesus. He willingly came to earth. Willingly lived life for thirty-three years. Willingly let himself be beaten, scourged, and crucified. All for others. All for us.
WE'RE ALL INVITED TO THE PARTY
Jesus illustrates the Father's love for all of us in the story of the prodigal son.7 One son works hard to serve his father while another son asks for his inheritance and says, "Peace out," spending the money on parties and traveling till he's poor and literally eating with the pigs.
You may have heard the church version of this story, which focuses on the younger son living his Jersey Shore lifestyle, fist-pumping his way to debauchery, when he realizes it isn't working. Ashamed and broke, he reasons that his father would never love him as a son but that he could at least get a job as a servant, since even servants live better than he was. So he comes home ready to beg for a job, but instead of shunning him, the father runs to him, embraces him, and kisses him. He completely disregards the son's prepared apology speech and instead throws a party that would rival any on MTV's Sweet 16 to celebrate his return home. He wanted to be an employee, but the father says, "No, you're a son." It's a beautiful picture of grace, redemption, and our heavenly Father's pursuit of us.
But that's only half of the story. Here's where it gets interesting: The parable of the prodigal son was told to the religious people, not the rebellious. So why do we put all the focus on the rebellious son? What about the other son?
Before telling this story, the writer Luke records that the Pharisees were grumbling and complaining because Jesus "receives sinners and eats with them."8 Religious folks haven't changed a lot since then, huh? One of the best barometers of a true Christian's heart is to see what kind of people he attracts and what kind of people he repels. If Jesus is in you, you should attract the marginalized and beaten-down members in society, just as he did. And there will be some people who aren't happy with it.
Jesus told the parable to the Pharisees as a response to their grumbling and complaining. This is important because the point of the parable isn't just the redemption of the younger son. It's also about the older son's reaction to the redemption of the younger son. We think Jesus told the story for the younger brother, but that first verse is an indicator that the story was told specifically for the more religious older brother.
The Bible says, "Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing."9 The older brother heard a celebration. I wonder what he thought was going on. Up to this point, I'm sure he didn't even know his brother had returned. Maybe he thought his old man was having a midlife crisis, called a DJ, and hung up some streamers.
When he finds out the party is for his wayward brother now returned home, the Bible says, "He was angry and refused to go in." That's not fair, he thinks. I've worked hard for Dad. I've been good for Dad. My brother? A loser who wasted our family fortune. Why does he get a party and I get nothing?
In anger he confronts his father: "Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!"11
Some of us are like the older brother. We've been good, so we think the Father owes us good gifts. And we think that others are so bad that they deserve nothing from the Father.
Others of us are like the younger brother. We're ashamed of our pasts and think we don't deserve any good gifts from our Father. But the reality is that the Father gives his good gifts freely to whomever he chooses as a radical act of love and grace.
To the wayward children he says, "Bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."
To those of us who think we're Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, God looks past our pride and graciously invites us to the party, saying, "You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found."
What I love about the story is that not once does the father look at the older son and say, "Fine; be that way. Your younger brother and I are going to party!"
No, it says he goes out and talks with the older brother. He entreats him. No one is more religious than the Christian who gives grace to everyone except the religious older-brother types. God gives grace to the younger and the older. No one is past redemption. No one is past grace. All God wants is for both the religious and the rebellious to come into the party. We can wallow in self-righteousness, or we can enjoy all that is our Fathers.
The reality is that the father owed neither son anything, and both sons showed ungratefulness in different ways.
The younger son was foolish. The older son was prideful. The younger son was physically lost. The older son was spiritually lost. The younger son didn't want the father's love. The older son thought he could earn the father's love.
We children of God have been acting the same since the beginning of time toward our Father God. Yet he invites us to enjoy him and all that is his. Like both the older and younger brothers, we must learn that the joy of our lives is not in what we get from the Father but how we get to be with him as his children. He's throwing a party and we are all invited.
The reality is that it's harder for religious people to come to Christ than anyone else because they think they are already good to go. In the parable of the prodigal son, we know that the younger brother is happy to receive the grace of the father. But Jesus never tells us if the older brother does. There's no conclusion. The father entreats him, but there is no indication as to how the older brother responds to his dad's invitation.
Jesus leaves the story open-ended as an invitation to us "older brothers." He's essentially asking, will you join the party?
No matter how we come to Jesus—whether we are coming to him for the first time or finding our way back to him after faking it, or even if we have tried to be righteous by adding our own rules to the Bible—we are all in need of his grace and truth. We won't find Jesus in the rapper on TV or in the person yelling at us from the street corner or in the baseball player attending a Bible study one minute and smoking weed the next. Sometimes we misinterpret truth, while other times we misinterpret grace.
But the God of the Bible is a loving Father who is full of both grace and truth.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO WHAT JESUS SAID, THE FATHER WANTS CHILDREN WHO WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH. THE FATHER AND JESUS WANT TO COME AND LIVE INSIDE OF US CHRISTIANS; IT IS PUTTING SELF TO ONE SIDE; IT IS BEING HUMBLE; IT IS BEING TRULY CONVERTED - CHANGED - IT IS AS PAUL SAID, "LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU THAT WAS IN CHRIST JESUS" - IT IS LETTING THE FATHER AND HIS SON GUIDE AND LEAD OUR THOUGHTS, WHICH WILL THEN PRODUCE THE RIGHT LIVING ACTIONS, IN LOVE AND HUMILITY, TOWARDS THEM AND TOWARDS OUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS. IT IS WALKING IN THE LORD NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE, WHO WE ARE WITH; IT IS BEING A LIGHT OF GODLINESS IN A DARK WORLD; IT IS BEING A CITY SET UPON A HILL THAT CANNOT BE HIDDEN. IT IS BEING AS WISE AS A SERPENT AND AS HARMLESS AS A DOVE. IT IS HAVING THAT PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND CHRIST, THAT THEN BECOMES WHO YOU ARE, IN BODY, SOUL, AND MIND. YOUR CHRISTIANITY IS THEN REALLY REAL; IT IS SO PERSONAL, YOU CANNOT BE A FAKE; IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO JUST BE A "CHRISTIAN" FOR A FEW HOURS A WEEK AT A CHURCH SERVICE. FROM THE DEEPEST INNNER MOST BEING OF YOUR MIND AND HEART, YOU SPEAK, YOU ACT, YOU THINK, WITH…… WELL PAUL PUT IT VERY WELL, "I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST: NEVERTHELESS I LIVE; YET NOT I, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME: AND THE LIFE I NOW LIVE IN THE FLESH, I LIVE BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, WHO LOVED ME, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME" (GAL. 2:2O).
ALL OF YOUR WAKING MINUTES ARE WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF BEING MINDFUL OF THE LORD; SO WHAT YOU SAY, WHAT YOU DO, IS THAT WHICH THE LORD DOES APPROVE. YOUR CHRISTIAN RELIGION AND MIND-SET IS THAT THE LORD WILL SAY TO YOU ONE DAY, "WELL DONE YOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT; I AM PLEASED WITH WHAT YOU HAVE DONE WITH WHAT I GAVE YOU TO DO; ENTER INTO THE JOY OF YOUR LORD."
YOU CANNOT JUST HAVE AN OUTWARD FORM OF "CHRISTIAN RELIGION" FOR GOD KNOWS THE HEART; HE KNOWS IF YOU ARE FAKING IT. YOU MAY FOOL OTHERS. BUT YOU CANNOT FOOL GOD.
BEING A TRUE CHRISTIAN IS EVER LOVING TRUTH; IS EVER WANTING TRUTH; IS EVER BEING WILLING TO BE CORRECTED; IT IS AS PETER SAID, GROWING IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. IT IS EVER BEING HUMBLE, KNOWING THAT OF OURSELVES WE ARE AS FILTHY RAGS BEFORE THE HOLY AND PERFECT AND RIGHTEOUS GOD. IT IS ALSO AS PAUL SAID, NOT THINKING OF OURSELVES MORE HIGHLY THAN WE SHOULD.
AND INDEED PART OF NOT BEING A FAKE CHRISTIAN IS TO MEDITATE UPON AND SO APPLY THE EXPOUNDING BY THE APOSTLE PAUL OF TRUE LOVE AS HE GAVE IN 1 CORINTHIANS 13.
READ THAT SECTION IN THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE AND OTHER TRANSLATIONS, TO HELP YOU DEEPLY UNDERSTAND WHAT TRUE LOVE REALLY IS, AND SO WHAT IT IS THAT IS NOT A FAKE CHRISTIAN.