Dear critic of Christianity:
First and foremost, let me apologize for the mistreatment and harsh actions that you most likely have been victim of, by the hands of my fellow Christians –and even myself. I realized that much of your reluctance and opposition towards Christianity may be justly caused by what you may consider unloving, hypocritical and judgmental attacks. I can understand how one could be skeptical about a belief system that preaches love and holiness when many of its adherents show less than congruent actions with such beliefs.
If I may, I would like to share a couple of thoughts that you may or may not be aware of.
To start, I would invite you to consider that Jesus -Christianity’s own founder, warned that many who profess to be Christians (use His name, preach, talk about the Bible, go to church and even do miracles), were not actually true followers. He stated that at the end He would say “I never knew you”. Many who say and do the ‘church stuff’ are not really truly Christians nor will they, at the end, go to heaven. He even described them as ‘evildoers’. (Matthew 7:21-23). Not only this is an important filter for outsiders to see and assess Christians, but it is even more a sobering call for Christians to evaluate their own life and faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)
You may now ask, “what does it take to be a true Christian then?”. The sad reality is that, as you may have noticed, there are many concepts that are argued within and amongst Christians and there are several concepts that not everyone in the church agrees on. One of them is the idea that to be saved and become a Christian, all you need to do is to “believe in Jesus in your heart –by faith” and “say a prayer of acceptance” and voila!! You are saved!. Unfortunately, this is –and is not true. I’m afraid it is not that simple. James, half-brother of Jesus, seems to indicate in his letter that “faith1 –defined as the acceptance of the existence of something, is useless. If one ‘says’ to believe in something, but doesn’t act upon it, nor validates such claim with actions, such faith is dead. (James 2:14-26); even the demons have that faith1 ,but at least they ‘tremble’!.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that if you ‘do’ things alone, you can become a true believer. In fact, Paul explicitly warns against this very idea; no one can earn salvation by ‘doing’; it is a free unmerited gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). One can become true believer when one believes2 -defined as acceptance of, and obedience to something, which is evidenced to the world by actions that follow such beliefs.
Now you may be wondering, “How do I know who is a true Christian?”. Like most of us, you may have the tendency to think that a true believer is the one who lives a perfect holy life with no mistakes. Like most of us, you may have discovered that no one among us does. I am not going to give you the line “Christians are humans and make mistakes”. Though true, I think we Christians have abused this excuse to be mediocre in our surrendering to God. I would like however, to draw your attention to what Jesus said about who were the true saved ones: “…but he who does the will of My Father in heaven…”. You can have a pretty good idea of who is a true believer by looking at how they obey the Bible. The book of James offers a very practical series tests on what true faith looks like in the middle of: problems, temptations, interpersonal relationships, purity, practical help to the less fortunate, conversations, money, etc. But obedience is not limited to the famous “do’s”, it is also referring to obey and accept what the Bible says about Christians identity, nature and promises in Christ including forgiveness and daily “cleansing”.
Please don’t expect Christians to be ‘sin-less’, as the Bible indicates that they would also sin. However ideally, true believers who have a living faith2, have in the past and are everyday repenting (turning away) from sin, and this should be evidenced by a consistently progressive life that doesn’t ‘continue sinning’ -and getting better at it, but instead, somehow shows more and more Christ’s perfect life and character through their lives.
It is my hope that as you see more and more of this true living faith in action, you consider that Christianity, is somehow similar to prescription medicine which, although many abuse and misuse, are legit, and have truly great and unthinkable benefits for you, should you consider and try them in the proper way.
Sincerely, A Christian.