Monday, October 10, 2011

Christianity: An American Right?

"There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews." (John 3:1, 21st Century KJV). When most of you hear or read that verse, you know that there is a discussion of salvation coming. For those of you unfamiliar with the third chapter of John, let me summarize. Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the cover of night to ask him who He was. Jesus turns the conversation to how a man enters into the Kingdom of God, telling him that a man must be "born again". Nicodemus could not understand what this meant, so Jesus went on to tell him that what He was referring to was a spiritual birth. Jesus was astounded by the lack of understanding by a very learned man. Education, it seems, was not the answer, instead understanding was the key. When a child reaches for a hot stove or heater, parents tend to try to stop them from touching it, rightfully so, by telling them it is hot and will hurt the child. However, as most parents will tell you, the child will, inevitably, touch the very thing that they have been taught not to touch because it is hot. Those same parents will then tell you that since the child touched that hot item, they understood what hot means and won't touch anything that they say is hot again. The lesson here is that knowing that something was hot didn't stop the child from touching the stove or heater, but once they did they understood what "hot" meant. Which brings me to the subject of my blog today.

I was listening to a radio talk show recently and heard a woman that declared that Americans have the right of self-determination, so therefore an American can declare themself a Christian, presumably without actually being born again. In fact, statistics support that the idea of calling oneself a Christian, without being born again, is not unique to this woman. The most recent statistics that I could find say that 77-85% of Americans identify themselves as Christian, while only 38-50% identify themselves as a born again Christian. I got these numbers from The Barna Group, a research group that covered several years from 1990-2009 and the results varied widely, depending on the individual study. The point here is that many who claim to be Christians do so because they have been taught a certain morality based in Christianity, without having an understanding of Christianity as a relationship between a person and Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus taught that the leaders of the Jewish religion, at the time of His earthly visit, had a knowledge of the Law, but not an understanding of the intention of the Law. Knowing the morality that the Bible teaches does not create a state of salvation or redemption. Salvation is more than just a knowledge of Jesus Christ, it is an understanding that Jesus Christ died on the Cross as a willing sacrifice for our sins, an understanding that He received the death we deserved because of our sins. Only by salvation through Jesus Christ, meaning acceptance of the work that the Son of God accomplished at Calvary's Cross and repentance of your sin, can you begin your relationship with Him. The relationship between a Christian and Jesus Christ defines Christianity. We are not born Christians, as we are born American or Asian or Italian, etc., but we have the opportunity to be born again into Christianity. Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus provides us some beginning of understanding and wisdom. Let us shake off the false assumption that by going to church, or chance of birth, we are given salvation. Being American does not mean that we are Christians, only that we have the freedom to become Christians.

No comments:

Post a Comment