what having a cross tattoo has taught me about a cross and the Cross, being lukewarm, and evangelizing.

crossI’ve been pondering something lately, and that is my lack of patience with people who adorn themselves and their homes and their Facebooks/Twitters/Instagrams with Christian propaganda (be that a cross necklace/tattoo/something similar, a scripture poster or status, a Christian meme, or share about Jesus or whatever).
It doesn’t come from hatred, I assure you. It comes from confusion. It confuses me and to be honest, frustrates me. This all came to a head last night and poured out onto my Twitter feed, but that’s neither here nor there.

What I realized is this: I should be more patient with those people, simply because I was one of those people.

I’ve been wearing a cross around my neck since about 2007.
I got my cross tattoo sometime in July/August 2010.
I gave my life to Christ on October 17, 2011.

I look back on my own history, this is what I’ve found:

One:
I was a hypocrite. I was a walking deadly weapon to the cause of Christianity. I talked about prayer and security in God and what-have-you, and I had this cross around my neck and tattooed on my wrist but I lived FOR my sin. I was rude, I had sex, I drank excessively, and I lied a lot. I was one of the biggest reasons people hate Christians, and I’ll totally accept that I was that girl for a while. I wanted to look “Christian” and I wanted to have Christian beliefs, however, I (and I was very honest about this) I didn’t want to give up my sin. These words literally left my mouth: “I love the Lord, but I love sex.” That happened. Please believe me- I’m ashamed.
I was a lukewarm “Christian” and had I died and gone onto judgment before the Lord, Christ would have vomited me out of His mouth. I was half-hearted, and if you feel this description fits you, please seek the Lord in prayer and in His Word. I know that your heart carries the most innocent of intentions, but you may wind up causing damage. When God ministers to you and you’re lined up with Him and His Word, He’ll deliver you to some amazing situations and hurting people, but please- wait for that calling. When Jesus told the Apostles to go out and make disciples of all nations, He told them to WAIT for the Holy Spirit. He also said that the correct teachers and people would be known by their fruit, so if this sounds judgmental, it is. Not in a negative way, but I hope in a way to cause you to turn around and judge your own fruit. I wish someone had told me that, but I didn’t know. But I digress.

Two:
I was that way because I believed a lie. For the record, this is one of the biggest points I believe most Evangelical Christians forget to mention to those they’re evangelizing to: I believed that I had to get my act together and be ready to give up my sin BEFORE I gave my life to Christ. I knew what it took: I understood the sinner’s prayer and that I needed to confess and believe that Christ died for me, but I wasn’t ready to sacrifice what I wanted and I thought I had to give it up first.
A few months ago, my pastor a story about when he was saved; he’d gone up to a Christian man he was working with at the time (and this guy did it right, I think). He asked the man, “So do I have to give up women?” The man said “Nope.” He said do I have to give up drinking?” And the man said “No.” Now- that is not an advocacy for sin even in the slightest. What that man went on to tell my pastor is what we should be telling more people and what I wish I had known sooner: You come to God right as you are.
I heard the gospel about 5 years before I actually came to Christ and it took so long because I didn’t know that. Addicted to sex, drugs, money, and alcohol, your own self, whatever idol you have. HE will break down those walls.
It was until I heard the testimony of someone who’d come to church still addicted to cocaine, alcohol, and sex and was miraculous healed of those addictions before I understood God loved me just the way I was and that I didn’t have to fix myself; that He would work with me and that miracles still happened. Don’t lie and say their lives will never have to change, but don’t tell them what they have to give up because it really makes it sound like He won’t take them when they come. Let God do that work.

Three: I didn’t know what my cross meant. In all reality, a cross is just a cross; its two intersecting pieces of wood. It’s known because it was used as a method of execution by the Romans, and it’s estimated that more than 10,000 people may have been executed by crucifixion on a cross (that’s a Wikipedia answer, so if it’s way off and you know a more accurate answer, please let me know). Without Jesus, that cross means nothing. His death brought us life. Without Jesus on the cross, it’s still just a death sentence. There are as many estimated deaths on a cross as I’m sure there are idols in this world. You can take your problems to any 10,000 of them but only one of them will yield you any positive results. Only the cross of Jesus Christ will mark the way to Heaven and to relationship with God.

Have you learned something like this or do you have any experience with people like this? Do you have advice for how to talk to people in these situations?
Any thoughts or comments? Please share! You guys hear from me all the time, I’d love to hear from you!

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