Nearly every Saturday morning I used to drive my two teenage boys up to a collectibles warehouse in Diamond Bar, California for the morning. It’s one of the main things the three of us loved to do together on a regular basis, and I loved spending that time with them as often as possible.
One weekend, as we drove underneath an overpass my oldest son pointed out a hand-drawn sign that someone had fastened to the outside of the rail. It read “Jesus Saves From Hell.”
What followed was a fascinating discussion about Christianity in America today.
One of my sons compared that message to something like “Buddha Leads To Nirvana” because most of the people in his generation today aren’t really sitting around thinking about things like Hell, or Being Saved.
We talked about how the Church today seems to be stuck on a script from the 1970’s that almost no one in our modern society is actually reading from.
That sign brought responses from my boys like, “Why is it always about hell?”, “Is getting saved from hell all we need Jesus for?”, “Even if Jesus does save from hell, what does that sign want me to do about it?”, etc.
From there our conversation went into another interesting direction. We started talking about the difference between promoting Christianity via a series of messages versus the idea of promoting Jesus’ way of life by the way we actually loved people, cared for the poor, served others, and became living examples of the kind of life that Jesus can offer us.
One of my son’s said, “If Christians were known for being people who took care of the poor, or who helped people in need, then even if non-christians disagreed with our faith they at least could respect the fact that we lived what we say we believe.”
This is why it’s so important that those of us who do understand this way of thinking go out of our way to demonstrate the love of Jesus to those around us. Because most Christians around us are not primarily focused on loving others. Most Christians in our society seem to be more concerned with being right and with proving that everyone else is wrong.
Of course, this sort of conversation is an easy thing to have in a moving vehicle on a Saturday morning on your way to shop for vintage video games and action figures and old comic books. But at least having these sorts of conversations means that there’s the possiblity that these very practical ideas about loving and serving and sharing and giving can actually spill out into our every day lives.
I get it. No one really lives this out in any perfect way. But the fact that we cannot live it out perfectly should not prevent us from living it out at all.
The world around us is desperate to see the real evidence of a living Christ. We are ambassadors of His love. We are His hands and His feet. If we, those who are called by His Name, are not willing and able and empowered to love as He loved, and to give as He gave, and to serve as He served, then who is?
I am reminded of a little verse that says, “If anyone claims to be in Him, he must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)Being a Christian is about so much more than slogans. It’s about putting our faith into practice and stepping out daily to allow Jesus to live and breathe in us so that the world around us might experience the transformational love of God.
Keith Giles is a former pastor who left the pulpit 11 years ago to start a church that gives away 100% of the offering to the poor in their community.
His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.
He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.
Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho.
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