The Chameleon Christian

Chameleons have always fascinated me. Their ability to change colors is just plain cool! Until I did some research for this post, I had always thought they changed their colors to blend in with their environment. I thought it was for camouflage or concealment. It turns out I was wrong! According to recent research:

“…evolutionary changes in the capacity for colour change are consistently associated with the use of social signals that are highly conspicuous to the visual system of chameleons. Moreover, capacity for colour change is unrelated to variation in the environmental backgrounds that chameleons must match in order to be camouflaged. Overall, our results suggest that the evolution of the ability to exhibit striking changes in colour evolved as a strategy to facilitate social signalling and not, as popularly believed, camouflage.”

In other words, the main reason that chameleons change color is not for concealment or camouflage but is actually for social reasons. Realize I said the main reason is in response to social signals; they do still change their colors for concealment, too. The Wikipedia page summarized it like this: “The primary purpose of color change has been found to be due to social signalling, as opposed to camouflage, although both social signalling color change, and color change for purposes of camouflage do occur in most chameleons, to some extent.”

Are you a chameleon Christian?

Do you ever find yourself doing this? Do you change depending on your social signals? Are you a chameleon Christian? A chameleon Christian is someone who specializes in blending in with those around them. At church they’re saying all the right things, quoting the Bible, and acting the part; once they get to work they’re cursing, laughing at crude jokes, or just simply blending in.

It’s easy to point your finger; harder to look in the mirror.

Now here’s the thing about chameleon Christians: it’s easy to detect when someone else is a chameleon Christian; it’s not as easy to take an honest look at yourself and see if you’re one, too! It’s easy for me to be hyper-critical of others, not so much for me to take a long, hard look at myself and see if I’m blending in. It’s easy to point your finger; harder to look in the mirror. And don’t mistake this as me claiming to be perfect. Quite the opposite! This is an area that I need to grow in, too! According to unChristian, one of the biggest problems non-Christians have with Christians is that we’re hypocrites. I think that’s likely the biggest problem we have with ourselves, too!
Ask yourself this simple question: Do you shine as a light (Phil 2:14-16) or do you blend in with the darkness around you (1 Jn 1:6)? This question, despite its difficulty, is worth answering. My prayer is that we may all look at ourselves and see where we can grow!
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He shall come again to judge the living and the dead

(This is part twelve of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

Now we get to a line that many of us choose to ignore:

“He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.”

This line tells us something about Jesus that we seem to forget:  Jesus will return. To some, this line is good news; to others it is bad news. Philippians 2:10-11 says that EVERY knee shall bow and that EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

For some this will be a moment of great joy; for others a moment of great terror.

For some, a moment of welcome; for others a moment of judgement.

Some will bow before Jesus as friend; others will bow before Jesus as foe.

At this moment some will accept grace; others will accept wrath.

The truth is, we all get a chance to either choose to bow down and worship Jesus as Lord now or resist and still wind up bowing down before Christ. In the end, those who resist will still bow down because Jesus will break them. For some, these words are not comforting but they actually shouldn’t be comforting for anyone, not even the believer.

The truth is, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. For the non-believer, this should give you great pause. I beg you to stop and consider who Jesus is. Jesus is God and He gives you the chance right now to bow down and and confess Him as Lord. If you find this idea disturbing or if it troubles you then that is the Holy Spirit doing His job! Worship Jesus now! You will spend eternity with Jesus…will He be your friend or your foe?

For the Christian, this line should not comfort you. This line should trouble you deeply. This line should cause you to lose sleep at night. This line should give your entire life a sense of urgent purpose:  To spread the Gospel as far and as fast as possible. If you truly believe that your neighbor, co-worker, or friend has an eternal destiny, why aren’t you doing everything in your power to make sure they spend eternity knowing Jesus as friend? “Therefore go!” The Great Commission isn’t “Therefore do nothing…” It’s an urgent mission that has eternal ramifications.

Do you believe that? Then live like you do.

"…the greatest is love."

This is part three of a multi-entry blog series titled “Lessons I Learned in the Desert.”

Theology and head knowledge are super-duper, but love is supreme. Intellectual debates don’t change lives; love does. Love is supreme; it disarms, it opens hearts, it saves souls. Love is why Christ died for us on the cross. People will only receive the Gospel from Christians who love them as they are with no strings attached.

One of the biggest perceptions non-Christians have towards Christians is that they do not care about them. The Christians simply want them to “get saved” so they can move on to their next “project.” This idea is explored further in unChristian from the Barna Institute. I would highly recommend that book for any Christian serious about reaching out to the modern world around them.

We live in a culture that has largely migrated away from Christianity. This has happened for numerous reasons, many of which are explain in Deliver Us From Evil by Ravi Zacharias. A good question though, is how the Church allowed this to happen. I think one of the biggest problems is the general lack of love in the modern Church. Many Christians seem more focused on being right that doing right. Read “Grace and Truth” for more on this idea.
 
There were several ways that I learned this, but the way that impacted me the deepest was in the relationships that I formed while I was deployed. I grew to love many of my non-Christian friends and genuinely cared for them. I wasn’t interested in beating them in philosophical or theological arguments, but in simply loving them as they were.
 
The Gospel is best shared in the context of a loving relationship, not with a complete stranger but with a friend who you know well. It may take years before the door opens between you and a friend, but until them you simply love them. In 1 Thes 2:8 Paul says that they shared their lives with the Thessalonians. That is how we are to love our neighbors.

Romans 1:20 and the tribes in Africa

“What about the tribe in Africa that’s never heard of Jesus?” I’ve had a handful of people ask me questions like this and I know a lot of people who have been asked similar questions. “Does a tribe in an isolated part of the world that’s never heard of Jesus go to hell for not accepting Him as their savior? That hardly sounds like a loving God!”

In short, people are only held accountable for what they know. The Bible says in Romans 1:19-20 that creation alone proclaims that it has a Maker. This is called God’s “general revelation.” Indeed, it is hard to look at the stars or a mountain landscape and not feel a sense of grandeur and realize that you are a very, very small speck. Psalm 19:1-6 says that the stars declare and proclaim God’s work; there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. In other words, to some degree all creation reveals that there is a God and it has done so in all places, languages, and times in history.

Paul goes on in Romans 2:14-15 to say that when people who do not have God’s Law meet the requirements of that Law, they are showing that in their heart they know that things are supposed to be a certain way and they are trying to meet those requirements. C.S. Lewis calls this “oughtness” in Mere Christianity. This act alone demonstrates a conviction to do “the right thing” even though people fall short.

Although these African tribes may not know the specific requirements of God through head knowledge and even though they may have never heard the name Jesus, the “Law,” or a feeling of how they ought to behave, is written on their hearts. They know the difference between right and wrong. Thus when these hypothetical tribesmen violate their own understanding of what is right, they condemn themselves. Conversely, when they do what they know to be right, their own conscienes defend them. Their clean conscienses save them or their guilty consciences condemn them.

Some people ask this question out of genuine concern, and some ask this question as an excuse to reject God. Again, from Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thig you can do is to remain outside yourself.” His statement makes a lot of sense to me. If I were worried about people getting exposed to acid rain, would it make any sense for me to stay outside in the acid rain because others were unable to go inside? Of course not!

To the non-Christian I would just ask one thing. If, as we stated to start this discussion, you’re only held accountable for what you know, then the only question that remains is this: What will you do with the knowledge you have; will you accept or squander the gift that’s been freely offered to you?

To the Christian I say: What’s keeping you from making sure that everyone knows about the freedom that’s been offered to them?

1 Timothy 4:12

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
This verse, to me, is all about allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you despite being young. Just because you’re not the oldest, most experienced Christian, doesn’t mean you can’t do great things for God. This verse breaks the Christian walk down into five components: speech, life, love, faith, and purity.I think all of those topics could be analyzed in depth, but no matter what they provide some excellent categories in which you can analyze yourself.

“What comes out of my mouth?”

“What kind of life am I living and what does that say to the world around me?”

“Am I loving my God and my neighbors?”

“Do I really, really trust God?”

“Am I trying to live a life of purity?”

Just mastering those 5 aspects of you life could take years and years! Which is why Christ’s work in us is a life-long process!

God bless,
daniel