Putting Christ Back In

Learning about His faithfulness inspires faith within me.

Dwelling on His goodness can produce righteousness through me.

Knowing His unconditional forgiveness empowers me to forgive.

His unfailing love, the lovingkindness that is everlasting, can cause my heart to love others when it seems unnatural for me to love them based on my own past experiences.

How do I experience these realities? What makes the difference between me struggling to look and feel like a Christian and actually experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life and transforming me into the image of God?

It is putting Christ back into Christianity. I have heard a lot of people talk about putting Christ back into Christmas, but upon reflection I realize that trying to put Christ back into Christmas is a dangerous illusion. You cannot put something back that was not originally there to start with. And Christmas was not originated by Christ but was a fabrication of an anti-Christ power attempting to induce pagans to “convert” to a distorted version of “Christianity” a few hundred years after Jesus returned to heaven. Before Jesus was born on this earth pagans were celebrating the holiday we now call Christmas. So to claim the idea that Christmas was somehow started by Christ and has since been hijacked by secular society is to endorse some of the deceptions initiated by the great deceiver himself.

Even more disturbing is the implications inherent in the word Christmas itself. It literally means “the mass of Christ” as invented by Catholicism. The mass is one of the most blasphemous claims that humans have ever invented. It teaches that sinful human beings can literally create the literal body of Jesus, the Creator Himself, each time they serve communion. This idea echoes the aspirations of Lucifer who wanted to be like the Most High but was unwilling to reflect the true character of the Most High. He wanted the power but did not want the humility and selflessness that is the essence of love.

Likewise, the distortions of Christianity that became world dominant a few hundred years after Pentecost brought into the church this same spirit of selfishness, pride and arrogance that brought about the fall of Lucifer. These perverted the true principles that Jesus came to reveal and marred people's perceptions of God so terribly that religion came to teach that human beings could assert the very prerogatives of God Himself and even control God with their demands and declarations on earth. The center of this pseudo-authority was concentrated largely in the ceremony of the mass which is literally the last part of the word Christmas. So to say that we should put Christ back into Christmas is to endorse the false and blasphemous claims that humans beings have the authority of the Creator and the ability to literally create God Himself during this ceremony.

On the other hand, the word Christian was originally thought up by pagans in Antioch much earlier than Christmas and was a slang term used in derision of true believers in Jesus Christ. The term began to be used to refer to people who were so obsessively talking about Christ all of the time that the people around them tried to ridicule them by calling them “little Christ's” or Christian. But instead of being viewed as a term of shame and ridicule, those early believers embraced the term as an honor and a compliment, so the name ended up sticking as a new label for those who had come to believe in Christ and were filled with His presence and passion. Thus pagan unbelievers actually had spoken the truth about them inadvertently while trying to poke fun at them.

But it was not too long before the Christians themselves began to lose the reality of Christ living within them that had caused their enemies to invent the term Christian. And saddest of all, they didn't even know it was happening. I came across a statement not long ago that describes this very thing quite eloquently.

After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the disciples went forth to proclaim a living Saviour, their one desire was the salvation of souls. They rejoiced in the sweetness of communion with saints. They were tender, thoughtful, self-denying, willing to make any sacrifice for the truth's sake. In their daily association with one another, they revealed the love that Christ had enjoined upon them. By unselfish words and deeds they strove to kindle this love in other hearts.

Such a love the believers were ever to cherish. They were to go forward in willing obedience to the new commandment. So closely were they to be united with Christ that they would be enabled to fulfill all His requirements. Their lives were to magnify the power of a Saviour who could justify them by His righteousness.

But gradually a change came. The believers began to look for defects in others. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and His love. They became more strict in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory than the practice of the faith. In their zeal to condemn others, they overlooked their own errors. They lost the brotherly love that Christ had enjoined, and, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives and that, having shut the love of God out of their hearts, they would soon walk in darkness. {AA 547-548}

Where do we find ourselves today in this description? I am afraid that most of us have spent our entire lives assuming that the latter part of this statement is the norm and the first part is some unattainable exception that maybe a very few people might enjoy sometime. But that assumption about what is normal is not God's desire for His children. He wants us to really understand the truth about the gospel, to experience its power and love in our lives and to be filled with the living presence of Jesus Christ so that His love so fills our hearts that we will experience what is so beautifully described in the first part of this statement.

I have been dwelling on this a lot lately and seeking to experience for myself what it truly means to have Jesus dwelling within me on a real time basis. Something that came across my consciousness this morning was a thought that went something like this.

There is infinite power barely within our reach.

It is up to us as to whether we will choose to act on the provision God has for us

or are we content to just talk about it.

I have caught myself thinking sometimes that I want to understand things fully before I take action or trust myself completely with God. Other times I catch myself feeling like I am waiting until I feel more connected with God emotionally before I am ready to make a full commitment, to surrender every part of my heart and life to His control. Sometimes I am suddenly overwhelmed with fearful circumstances that may cause me to forget God's power or doubt His ability to handle my problems. But what is beginning to dawn on me is how incredibly small the intersection is between the realm of life and death, the overlap between God's unlimited abilities and my ability to simply choose each moment to keep surrendered to God's will while releasing my own.

It is so easy to slip into old habits of “Christian” thinking, of subconsciously believing that if I just try a little harder and pray a little more for help from God, then I can do the things that God requires of those who are to be saved. But actually that kind of thinking precludes God from being able to grant me the very righteousness that I am working so hard to achieve. Instead of trying harder to be good or to have faith or to do whatever I am being urged to do by religious people around me, I am learning that as I focus on the truths about God as revealed in the life of Jesus Christ, those characteristics actually begin to appear from within me almost mysteriously.

I am beginning to realize that the greatest danger we face as Christians is not strong temptations for open sin, enticing lusts or even enemies out to do us in. Our greatest danger is to remain blind to the fact that we just may not have Christ Himself at the center of our Christianity; that while we claim the name of Christian we are trying to act like Christians without having a personal, vital connection with His heart which is the only thing that can produce a true reflection of His perfect righteousness in human lives. What we need most – what I need most – is to put Christ Himself back into the experience of being a Christian.

...the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, ... has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)

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