I don’t want to write posts like the one I just wrote without telling you what I’m about to tell you. That post discussed true and false Christians—or disciples vs. mere believers—and I don’t want you to misunderstand what I mean by disciple.
I’m not going to explain it to you; I’m going to give you an example, which is a much better explanation anyway.
As we were coming back from helping some friends in California come together as a church, my wife told me, "Most people aren’t willing to say the things you say."
I’ve been told that before.
Let me instantly pull you up to freedom of speech the way I was pulled up to freedom of speech.
Someone once wrote, "I am going to preach God’s Word unchanged and completely, even if the truth of his Word condemns me."
I believe that.
The Truth Because It’s True
I don’t preach the truth because I’m living it. I preach the truth because because it’s true
Does that make me a hypocrite?
I don’t believe so, and I have the testimony of the church—friends who know me intimately—that I’m no hypocrite.
But let’s look at this because like me, you have to say what’s true even if it condemns you. You can’t change or ignore the truth just because you find yourself unable to live it.
The Greek word translated—or, rather, left untranslated—hypocrite is hypokritos. It doesn’t mean hypocrite, or at least it didn’t in the 1st century. It means actor.
I like to translate it pretender.
I am not a pretender. I do not lie about who I am. When I teach about something that I am finding myself unable to live (at the moment), I say so.
If I’m not living it, all the more reason to teach it!
Why? Because then my brothers and sisters can help me live it. As I said in that last post, there some sins that you cannot be delivered from without the help of the church.
Being a Real Christian
There’s a terrific example of a real Christian, and what a real Christian needs, in one of the men I went to visit in California.
Bill (not his real name) has some problems. That’s not a surprise. We all have problems. His are particularly difficult to confess because they would be easy for him to hide.
He’s older, and he’s already had very high and very low experiences as a Christian. Recently, though, he was ready to give up. He had reached a state of hopelessness.
When we came along, the hardest thing for Bill to do was to hope again. Hoping means gathering up strength, devotion, and diligence one more time, and it means confessing his faults and taking a risk that we’ll really come along side to help him.
He did it.
That’s a real Christian.
I don’t look down on such a man for his problems. I look up to such a man for his faith.
We need to be people who can be trusted. I don’t have to be perfect. I have to confess my faults.
We will not succeed, we will not be saved, unless we are willing to encourage one another every day, while it is called today, so that we are not hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). We will not succeed unless we confess our faults to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed (Jam. 5:16).
That’s real Christianity.
Real Christianity is not perfection. Real Christianity is going all the way.
Real Christianity is choosing not to change the commands of Christ, even if they condemn us. Real Christianity is giving ourselves wholeheartedly to the Spirit of God so that God can deal with us and change us even—no, not "even"; especially—when it hurts.
Real Christianity is confessing our faults to one another and praying for one another so that we can be healed.
Don’t think you can have real righteousness otherwise. Sin is too deceitful, and humans, even saved humans, are too easily deceived.