Why your spiritual journey should begin with Christ—even when you’re uninspired by Christians.
One of the most shameful moments in a Christian’s life is this: a friend confides that they want a more spiritual life, but dismisses the possibility of following Christ. Despite the relationship we share and the knowledge they have of our faith, our friends and neighbors are unmoved by Christianity.
Sometimes, they seem willing to consider almost anything as a foundation for developing their kinship with God—yoga, transcendental meditation or another world religion—anything but Jesus, the man God sent for the express purpose of drawing each of us to him.
As a Christian, these moments of awareness provoke me to inventory my assorted weaknesses, my bad attitudes, my moral failings, my addictions, my lack of love for others, my hypocrisies—all the things that don’t accurately reflect the Christ I follow. Like many Christians, I don’t always live with the joy of Christ. I fret. I stumble. I criticize. I chase worldly things.
Because I came to know Christ through extraordinary examples set by several of his followers, I feel duty-bound to bring at least a few people with me on my journey toward heaven. Sadly, my life is not yet sufficiently transformed to be a compelling influence on some of my dearest friends and family.
I know I can do better, but even if I conquered every shortcoming, there remains a subset of friends who seem beyond my influence. They are people who’ve been profoundly wronged by a professed Christian.
If you’re reading this as someone who has turned away from Christianity because of such a person, then the rest of this post is written to you.
First, I must admit that your reasons are not beyond understanding. In the worst case, someone used the cloak of faith to conceal evil, atrocious deeds that victimized you. Or maybe you were turned off by a Christian’s holier-than-thou attitude or ineptitude in the midst of one of your greatest challenges. It’s possible that you’ve seen Christians judge someone’s choice, then turn around and do something infinitely worse.
In any case, the Christians you’ve known—people who are, presumably, patterning themselves after Christ—are so disappointing that you’re looking for someone better than Christ to develop your spiritual life. I’ll be blunt: there is no one better than Christ to help you develop a full, direct relationship with God and find the peace that passes all understanding.
Before you set off on a spiritual journey that excludes Christ, here are three points to explain why you ought to give him another chance despite your negative experience with Christians.
Not everyone who claims Christ is a Christian.
There are whole sections of the Bible written to warn people who said they would follow Christ, but never made the first step in his direction. Or some did, but lacked the courage to keep moving forward. Some wanted to keep their former life. Some didn’t “get” the commitment they were making. These wanna-be Christians fell by the wayside and missed the chance to be changed in his image.
From the first century onward, people have stained Christ’s holy name because they wanted to be counted as a Christian without living in a way that’s consistent with Christ’s manner. The Bible is very clear about this problem. If anyone uses Christ’s name to exploit others and does not reform, God can handle it. His methods for doing so have nothing to do with my spiritual life or yours. Don’t let someone else’s sin keep you away from God’s saving graces.
We’re all just trying.
You may have heard the saying, “Christians aren’t perfect; we’re just forgiven.” It sounds trite, but like all trite statements, it’s true. Everywhere you go on this side of heaven, you’ll find people doing, saying and thinking things they shouldn’t—at least not by the standards Christ set for us.
The world distances itself from this terminology, but God calls this sin. To humans, some sins look and feel worse than others. In God’s eyes: not so much. All human sin is pretty much the same to God—a serious matter that keeps us isolated from him unless there’s a remedy. (Would you want an afterlife where God allowed evil to keep company with goodness, joy, love and truth for all eternity?)
Christians depend on Christ to be that remedy, to plead our case before God. As God’s son, HE was perfect, but that doesn’t mean we’ll ever be so. Christ’s perfection uniquely qualifies him (with God) to run interference for every human being who has ever lived. Because of Christ, Christians start every day, renewed by the knowledge that the Lord is holding our spot in God’s family by covering our sins.
Our dependence on Christ to fulfill that role should keep us humble, but it doesn’t always. Some of us need to be reminded that God doesn’t need us; we need him. When you see one (or more) of us doing something that disappoints you, just know that he isn’t finished with us yet.
God’s peace and his saving power are shown through Christ.
If, at first, a place of worship, spiritual practice or philosophy looks perfect to you, hang around a while. Eventually, you’ll see evidence of mankind’s darkest traits. Sadly, most faith traditions, including Christianity, have been marred by corruption and scandal, leaving a heartbreaking trail of human destruction.
Every vile and offensive thing that happens in the world can happen within Christ’s church. That doesn’t mean you should follow a spiritual practice that has no favorable effect on where you’ll spend eternity.
The Bible repeatedly explains Christ’s superiority and his exclusive role in achieving spiritual peace and obtaining an eternal home in heaven. (Ephesians 2) God made Christ the foundation of the church and the savior for everyone, for all time. (Ephesians 1: 19-24) He is the reference point for all that is right. (Philippians 1:11) He’s the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Don’t miss the opportunity to be with him for all eternity because of the weakest among us, or because of people who are simply posers—phonies who don’t know Christ. Our sins do not make Christ an unfit savior; they make us unworthy servants.
If you decide to search for Christ, you’ll have the same struggle that all Christians have. You’ll want to follow him, yet occasionally wish you could do the world any ‘ole way you like. If you can negotiate that space with sincerity and commitment, you’ll be someone who naturally draws others to Christ through your positive example—just the opposite of those who’ve harmed you in the past. What a beautiful contradiction that would be!
Crystal Hammon works as a non-fiction writer and corporate storyteller. She is currently working on two books—a biography about a well-known fashion designer and a guide to caring for aging parents.
Crystal spends free time caring for family, reading, playing golf and appreciating music, theatre and the arts. She also writes a personal blog that started in 2010 as a celebration of vintage clothing/iconic women and became a dumping ground for this-that-and-the-other. Her favorite posts are tributes to people she has loved and lost.
Although she has been a Christian since the mid-1980s, Crystal considers herself a late-bloomer and feels the need to travel at the speed of light to compensate for decades of spiritual immaturity.