A sales promotion

A sales promotion

I often hear reports from evangelical churches about people who came to faith, accepted the gospel and even got baptized. But sadly, I hear as often that many people leave faith and no longer identify themselves as Christians. Especially in the US, where more than a half of professing Christians fall away before they reach their 30s, according to the research. Did Christianity become unsustainable or we’ve got something wrong?

It seems to me that we should go back to the roots and review the definition. This word “Christian” got completely diluted, distorted and redefined during the last hundreds of years. It may describe someone who just goes to church, likes sayings from the Bible, got baptized as an infant, prayed a special prayer, or was simply born in a Christian family. Is this a biblical definition of a Christian?

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26), the one who bears His name (1 Peter 4:16). The Greek word “Christianos” means “a follower of Christ”. Jesus Himself gave a command to make disciples (not converts) in Matthew 28:19. And Christ Himself was calling people to follow Him, to become His disciples.

In the days of Jesus, many wanted to follow Him, because He was healing people, feeding them and He had words of wisdom. However, instead of rejoicing in such a vast army of converts, He set harsh requirements for being His disciples, which drove most of them away, leaving only the 12 at one time (John 6:67). Here is what He said:

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37-38

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:33

How often do you hear this preached today? Instead, we have made Christianity accessible for everyone, even for 4-year-old children. It became a magic goSPELL which one has to pronounce in order to become born-again. Not even a mention of carrying your cross, losing your life and loving Christ above anyone else. Is this how it was from the beginning?

Christianity begins with Christ. If we teach anything other than what Christ Himself was teaching about being His followers, then it’s a copyright violation at best. At worst we are fake Christians who make other fake Christians. This is why, in my opinion, many people fall away from faith.

Jesus was not afraid to scare people off by telling them His requirements for becoming His disciples. If we are truly His followers, we should do likewise. It is He who saves, not us. We cannot save more people by making Christianity “easier” and more accessible, deliberately ignoring the requirements, which Christ Himself had set. This is like a sales promotion to attract new customers, luring them with discounts, but hiding the real cost of the life-time commitment.

Let’s go back to the roots and tell people the truth about being a Christian, trusting their salvation completely into the hands of our Lord and Saviour. For He alone can rescue and He alone can save.

Author: Sasha Taran