Thursday, June 7, 2012

Considering Brand ‘Ex’

Yesterday I read an article about a woman who claimed to be an “ex-Christian.” To me that sounded like someone deciding to become an “ex-human being” or a longtime pet becoming an “ex-dog.”

The woman, now an avowed atheist, said she had turned from beliefs and practices she had followed as a child and young person raised in a so-called “Christian home.” She no longer believed what she had been taught to believe. I get that.

But in reality, being a “Christian” isn’t about what you do, or even what you might think at a particular time. At its core, it’s about who you are.

Without question, foundational truths, beliefs and principles are central to being what I prefer to call a follower of Jesus. But what we think about such things can be influenced by feelings, moods, and doubts. Just as I might, in a crazy moment, question the constancy of gravity – that won’t stop me from falling if I decide to jump from a cliff.

Jesus Christ told inquisitive Nicodemus, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus wasn’t talking about changed philosophy, attitudes, or values, even those may be byproducts. He was talking about spiritual rebirth, new life through faith in Him.

In Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul referred to this, stating, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

The thought behind being “born again,” a term misused and abused ever since President Jimmy Carter brought it into public discourse back in the ‘70s, does not pertain to ideology. It involves a real, literal spiritual birth that dramatically – and permanently – affects anyone genuinely trusting in Jesus.

Therefore, being an “ex-Christian” would require becoming “un-born again,” and the Bible says this isn’t a matter of choice. Jesus declared, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleased. You hear its sounds but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8).

If the woman interviewed is an “ex-Christian,” the Scriptures say she never was one.

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