I Remember When I Used to be you Before you Became me

2 Timothy 1:9 – He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time

Hi there, Christian.

Do you remember when you were not a Christian?

Do you remember when the world enticed you at every turn? When alcohol smelled sweet. When the drugs just made the problems disappear. When that one night stand made you feel good.

What happened when you became a Christian?

There is a whole school of Christian thought out there that says you logically stopped hanging out with those people and stopped going to all those places that you used to frequent.

But why?

Now I am not saying that once we become saved that we continue to live the same way we did before we came to Christ. But what I am saying is that God saved you from that for a purpose.

He saved you from it so that you can go back and save others.

If the building is burning, we don’t simply get out of it. We try to take as many people with us as we go. And if we see people still trapped inside after we get out, we go back in to try and rescue them.

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

The world hates Christians. It always has and it always will. But we say too flippantly that the world hates us. We say it like we don’t care. And while we are not to worry about how others feel about it, we SHOULD care about them.

Christianity is a people business.

You can’t do Christianity simply from the internet. You can’t do Christianity from the cell phone. You can’t do Christianity simply from the walls of the church on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings. You need to go where the people are that need to be saved.

There is an amazing story of Tony Campolo. He was sitting in a small diner in a seedy neighborhood at 3 AM when a whole bunch of prostitutes came in. One mentioned it was her birthday and all the girls clapped for her and cheered. They left soon after. Tony went up to the manager and asked if they were in there a lot and the manager said they were in there every night. The next day, Tony was sitting in that same booth at 3AM when the women walked in. He immediately went up to the one whose birthday it was and presented her with a cake. They asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a pastor. Then they asked him what church he belonged to at which he answered, “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Unfortunately, when we look in the mirror, too often we see a shell of person that God created. You see, we think that when the Bible says we become a “new creation,” that we actually change who we are completely. But guess what, that if you were to change yourself, then you wouldn’t be the person God intended you to be. You would be someone else.

When we hear about becoming a new creation, it simply means that we now look through the lens of a Christian worldview. We begin learning spiritual wisdom.

Let me share a story.

When I was in middle school, I could not stand the kids in my youth group that my parents made me go to. Every time I opened my mouth with the wrong answer to the Bible questions or shared my opinion that was different from theirs they would glare into me with their eyes of bitter judgment.

I told myself I never wanted to become like any of those kids.

But then at the age of 12 I got saved.

I started learning more and more about God and what He does and does not consider sin.

I started flashing my bitter eyes of judgment at people and burning into them with my self-righteous views of what God would want.

I became the people I could not stand to be around when I was lost in the world.

It was not until many years later when I rededicated my life to Christ at around 40 that I really started to understand what Jesus really came for. Why he came to die. First, let me tell you that it was not simply to show us a caring, Western Jesus that is petting the little lambs while the world rides a shopping cart to hell.

And no, it was not so that conservatives and liberals can cut up the Bible into little pieces without understanding how it all ties together just to shame the other.

And, no, it has nothing to do with letting the world see everything that God is opposed to while seeing nothing of what He advocates.

Luke 5:32 – I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Remember, Christian, you will create disciples of the kind of Christian that you are. Would you like to create a disciple that is filled with hatred toward others or is selfish or prideful? Then focus on making Christianity to fit your mold.

But if you would rather have disciples who will love one another so much that they would rather die before dividing and tearing each other down, then live a life that emulates Christ. Sure, it won’t be perfect. We simply are not perfect. But it will be loving. And it will call out sin where it needs to be called out. It will not water down the gospel to reach more people. It will stay true to the purpose and reason that Christ came to die.

So if you are a Christian, I want to challenge you to go out and talk to your non-Christian friends and ask them what they think of you and how your faith affects that. You might find that conversation very eye opening.

But then again, try to remember what it used to be like to be them.

And then go out and talk to your Christian friends. Ask them what they think you are known for in your Christian walk. Is it all negative? For example, “I love how you tear those liberal Christians up!” Or how about, “I love how you don’t take any lip when someone is wrong about the Bible.” Are you better known for what Christ is against and less known for what He is for?

And if those friends are people you led to Christ, remember what they were like before coming to Christ and how they have changed. Negatively and positively.

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

It can be a scary place to see ourselves as the world sees us. No, we are not to conform to the world, but we are to be used to transform it through living in it. If you are always pushing people away with your political religious stances, how can you handle someone who doesn’t hold your political view? Are they now pariah? Or what about if they hold a different view of church governance? Can they not be in YOUR worldview?

The mirror that we need to see ourselves through is that of us and Christ. No one else. We are not to be like the media’s version of a Christian. Those people are conformed to the world. We are to be like the Biblical Jesus. This is a Jesus that can only be found by reading, studying, and testing the Scriptures.

Then and only then can you say that you understand the Jesus of the Bible.

And then you can see God growing in the lives of people around you, people who are just like the people you knew yesterday.

2 Timothy 2:2 – And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

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