Having been raised in the Southern Baptist Church I absorbed teachings that placed God's elite, those who have been "found," as being more godly and Christ-like than those who don't necessarily claim to be Christian.
The older I get, the more I realize that those who claim to follow Christ sometimes are less like him in how they act or think than other people I encounter who do not make any outward profession of following Christ.
Though this isn't always the case, I'll talk about secular people being the opposite of Christ and beiing counter to the light in my next post. It does happen, which makes me reconsider my past beliefs.
C. S. Lewis in his book The Last Battle, one of the tales of Narnia, touches on this. It has been a long time since reading the book so I cannot reference the characters or exact example, but his writing indicates we might be surprised as to who enters the kingdom of heaven when all is said and done. They may not outwardly make a loud profession of following Christ but may be more Christ-like in their behavior and principles than others who are sure they have a ticket into the kingdom.
Gandhi, who studied Christ and the Bible and modeled Christ-like attributes as he took on the cause of the poor and devalued in his navtive India, was of the Hindu faith, yet he admired Christ. He said, "The message of Jesus as I understand it," said Gandhi, "is contained in the Sermon on the Mount unadulterated and taken as a whole.. If then I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, 'Oh, yes, I am a Christian.' But negatively I can tell you that in my humble opinion, what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount... I am speaking of the Christian belief, of Christianity as it is understood in the west." (1 http://robtshepherd.tripod.com/gandhi.html)
Gandhi hesitated in calling himself a Christian because of all the bad examples exhibited by people who claimed to follow Christ.
The following examples may be minor to you but they are indicators of people's "heart" conditions to me. Here's what I have seen:
- Secular people going the extra mile to care for poor and hungry people. On the other hand church people getting riled because they don't want to suspened their weekly Bible study for a night to participate in a group charitable act outside church walls.
- At a craft show a young girl with her mother gave me her lovely filigree locket which she had in her pocket. She lost the chain and thought I could sell the locket for myself and make a little income. (At the same show I enjoyed putting it out on my table with a new cord. When she passed by the next time, I gave it to her, much to her delight.)
- At this same craft show, without my asking, people pitched in and helped raise my canopy. One man was from a group that promoted the memory of the Confederacy which I struggle with as being counter to Christ's teaching due to the history of slavery.
Jeus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt 7:21)
My point in all this is that no matter what label we put on ourselves as being Christian or not claiming to follow Christ, it is our heart and actions that reveal where we truly stand.
Have you experienced moments of seeing Christ in other people outside the church walls? Share your examples below.