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Straying from Christ within Christianity

The question sounds strange initially, but we must ask ourselves: Are we in danger of losing Christ in Christianity?


Among those who truly know Jesus, love Him, and believe in Him for eternal life, have we lost our first love? Does the more excellent have the brilliance of His presence diminished within our hearts, relegated to a secondary role while we pursue other interests? While books on Christian living are popular, those focusing solely on Christ often gather dust on the shelves.

Do we experience a sense of longing in His absence? Is there a void where His presence used to be felt?

Do we feel the pain of His absence? Do we miss Him?

Are we losing sight of Him in some of our most precious places: the truth, the Scriptures, the objective of holiness, and the church?


Have we lost Him in the truth?


When truth becomes impersonal, merely a component in a formula where the gospel added anything equals salvation, we inadvertently misplace Jesus. When we preach, we must be preaching "Christ" rather than "the truth" or anything else because we quickly reduce "the truth" to an impersonal system. Without vigilance, the truth, embodied in Christ as the way, the truth, and the life, risks being reduced to a sterile, lifeless philosophy.


"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:" - Romans 1:1-4


Paul did not commit his life to a fixed formula; God set him apart for the gospel. The gospel, God's power for salvation, is the good news of the person Jesus Christ.


Have we lost Him in the Scriptures?


"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" - John 5:39-40


In this passage, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees. Do we unwittingly adopt habits of Bible reading reminiscent of the blind Pharisees? What insights have I gained from Scripture recently? Perhaps you've gleaned lessons on contentment, endurance through suffering, or deepening love within your marriage. You may have explored the disciples' boldness in the book of Acts—all suitable lessons.

Now, reflect: What glimpses of Christ have I encountered recently? What aspects of His character have stirred my heart and nourished my spirit? Which of His teachings have resonated deeply with me? Which of His virtues have captured my affection?

Many of us may find it simpler to respond to the first question than the second. We've thought about numerous topics, yet how deeply have we delved into understanding Christ Himself? We discuss faith abundantly, but do we equally ponder the object of our faith? The Pharisees, despite their extensive study of the Scriptures, failed to recognize the Messiah in their midst.


Have we lost Him while striving for holiness?


When Jesus fades from view in our journey of sanctification, striving for Christlikeness can become a pursuit of mere virtue, and sin may be reduced to impersonal transgressions.


"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." - John 15:12


Instead of seeing our love as imitating Christ's love, we seek to possess generic love, general patience, basic joy, gentleness, and self-control to the best possible. Holiness can devolve into a form of moral math, where we assess how much more of a positive attribute we need to acquire. We can "look the part" in every aspect of our life on the outside, but we have missed the point if we are not looking toward Christ.

Similarly, sin can be perceived solely as the violation of an impersonal law. It's akin to exceeding the speed limit: the sign indicates 70 miles per hour, the speed camera registers us at 80, and a ticket arrives in the mail.

Instead, true holiness involves gazing upon Jesus and emulating His example. As we behold His glory, we are transformed into His likeness. The Father has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. 


"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." - Romans 8:29


We don't strive for virtues merely for our own sake; instead, we "put on the Lord Jesus Christ." Instead of merely acknowledging sin as if we've broken a speed limit, we confess our sins as offenses against our God.


Have we lost Him in the church body?


In our increasingly post-Christian culture, the Golden Rule is preferred over the Golden Ruler. Humanitarianism often serves as a pat on the back for the conscience. The thought of love for our neighbors endures, even though we look at God as if He is dead.

While it's accurate that our love for one another should define us, it shouldn't be the sole defining factor. We cannot prioritize horizontal love for fellow believers at the expense of vertical love for Christ. Thus, we can not take the second great commandment seriously, to love one another as ourselves, while ignoring the first, to love God with everything.

The temptation is like the mission trip temptation—you can dig a well and ignore the Living Water. We can make a meal for a connection class, lead the prayer meeting, set up the chairs for service, practice for the worship service, provide meals for those in need, send a card, and lose focus on Jesus. For it to remain such, the Christian community must be founded upon the work of Christ, full of His Spirit, and existing for His glory.

Our life in the body is life in His body. 


"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." - Colossians 1:18


We're not the model of social clubs or a humanitarian community with occasional references to Jesus. We are His, belonging to Him—His sheep, His cherished bride.

While angels never grow weary of beholding the King in His splendor, have we?


"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." - 1 Peter 1:8-9


To know him is heaven on earth. The believer's eternal happiness is seeing God in Christ's face and becoming like we see. Will we accept a Christianity deprived of Christ, like a diet lacking essential nourishment?

Let's spend our lives beholding His glories. Let's make his love our all-engrossing subject. Travel onward in the knowledge of Him. Please do not settle for His ethics or His worldview without Him.

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