(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article, read by the author: How do you become more than a “skin-deep” Christian?)
The bare minimum
You sit in math class, half trying to pay attention. The teacher drones on about something to do with Pythagoras; you’re not really sure. You never asked to take this class. It doesn’t interest you. But all the adults say you “need” to take it. Why?
For years, you go through this situation on a nearly daily basis. Math, science, history. You go through school, learning the bare minimum to get out and move on. Let’s say you graduate and get a job building houses. Your boss tells you to figure out how long to cut a piece of wood for the sloping roof, “and don’t screw it up!” With half formed thoughts of something about Pythagoras tumbling through your head, you find yourself wishing you had paid more attention back in math class. Suddenly, what you were learning back then doesn’t seem all that useless.
This is the same situation many young people find themselves in with regards to Christianity. It’s easy to be a skin-deep Christian and maintain a good conscience, but without really paying attention to what it means for their own life, personally. Many people may not have more than a basic knowledge of what is written in God’s Word. Even less understand the promises that are given there. The unfortunate part is that many people spend their entire lives in this fake Christianity! It never means anything to them, it never helps them beyond being a “nice person!” It doesn’t do anything about the sin that is so deeply ingrained in human nature, which a Christian is meant to become free from. (Romans 6:6)
A need for help
It’s not until you experience a need for help personally in your own life that your Christianity can truly become personal. When you are faced with the ugliness of yourself, when you see the sins in your nature. Your bitterness, your greed, temper, selfishness, lust, whatever it is. When you see no solution or way out, that is when the words spoken by Jesus take on a meaning and spirit which can free you!
“Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Mark 2:17.
So, how do you take Christianity personally? There are times when it is more “real” than others, depending on your mood and the events of the day, etc. But how does it become your life, the one thing that brings you joy, the thing you live for?
Quite simply, that happens when you acknowledge how “sick” you are. “For I know that in me (that is, in my) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” Romans 7:18. When you continually remind yourself about your need, then God’s Word can continually provide the solution!
The moment you think that you can do it without God’s help is the moment God’s Word loses your interest. The moment you allow pride in is the moment you no longer are taking Christianity personally. In truth, you are not strong enough to overcome thethat live in your nature. You are desperate for God’s help! Humility is the key. But then you have the tremendous hope of becoming free from those “sicknesses!” You discover that a true Christian life is the best life possible!
Being a true Christian
When you continually go around with the acknowledgement that you have sin, the need to be freed from it, the humility to go to God’s Word, and the conviction to do what is written, then you are a true Christian. Then God has pleasure in you, and does His utmost to see it succeed for you! Outwardly, life carries on just as before, but inwardly something is changing. Now you are building that house with a pocket book containing all the instructions for everything you would ever come across! When your boss tells you to cut that piece of wood but you have no idea how to figure out the length, you look into the pocket book and find the formula. Then you have an interest in learning this math, because it has a direct impact on the problem you need to solve!
How is it with yourself? Are there areas that you see in yourself that need a solution? How long have you tried to figure it out on your own, to no avail? Do you have that need over your own life that drives you into God’s Word? God longs to give us the solution to our problems, but He will only give it to those who humble themselves enough to ask for it in true sincerity. Jesus wept with loud crying and tears that He would not do His own will, but the will of His Father. Our Father. “Not My will, but Yours be done!” Luke 22:42. Pray that you can see your own “sickness.” Pray that you can get a need over your own life. Pray that you can hate your sin, and be freed from it! With time, you will see it become a reality before your own eyes. You will be a true Christian. Personally.