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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Lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron

First preface: ¬†This is meant to encourage and challenge. My goal is not to break anyone down without giving them the hope of being built back up. This post is meant to compel, not to condemn. However, if your conscious convicts you then whose fault is that? ūüôā

Second preface: ¬†This is also a “me too” account, meaning I have been just as guilty as anyone else in this area… I’m not throwing stone¬†per se, because, especially when I was in high school, I was just as hypocritical as anyone else I knew; maybe even more so.

So now that I’ve gotten those two prefaces out of the way….

Where I grew up, everyone claims to be a Christian:
“Yeah, I believe that Jesus died for my sins, is my Savior, and all that, but…”
“Yeah, I said the sinner’s prayer when I was like four years old, so I’m a Christian, but…”
“Yeah, I think Jesus was a good moral teacher, but…”

but few actually live as though they worship Christ as Lord. It’s the “but” that really gets you.

It’s like saying:
“I’m 100% devoted to a cause, but… only 10% of the time.”
“I’ve had a life-changing encounter with God Almighty, but… I’m going to keep living like I haven’t.”
“I’ve decided that God’s Kingdom should be the first priority in my life, but… I’m going to build up¬†my¬†kingdom instead.”
“I’ve confessed Jesus Christ as my Lord, but… I’m not going to submit to His authority in my life.”
“I’m a Christian, but…I’m a lukewarm Christian.”

Here’s the ironic part: ¬†Those who claim to be lukewarm Christians are actually making a reference to the Bible, and by doing such are proving that they have never seriously studied the Bible! The analogy of being lukewarm comes from Revelation 3:16 and it’s not a pretty picture. In Revelation 3, Jesus is speaking to some churches about areas in which they have fallen short. He compares one of the churches to a glass of water that He was expecting to be hot but, when He took a sip, it turned out to be lukewarm. Here’s the thing, the lukewarm water doesn’t get swallowed or kept. It gets spit out!

We fool ourselves if we think we can sit comfortably in our lukewarm Christianity. We are deceived when we tell ourselves that giving our leftovers to God is a suitable offering.

Anything short of 100% commitment is not Christianity. Anything short of passionate devotion to God is a cheap forgery of real Christianity.

The ‘lukewarm Christian’ is spit out. In other words, they are not Christians. (Francis Chan does a great job of explaining this idea in Chapter 4 of Crazy Love.)

A friend of mine recently wrote as her Facebook status: “If you are truly saved you CANNOT live comfortably in sin! “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” – 1 John 2:4 So, if you are sinning without care or conviction, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN, and YOU ARE NOT SAVED! There is no gray area! Please, get right with God now! Don’t put it off, because you may not get tomorrow!”

I agree with this person. A Christian will look different once they’ve become a Christian. Moses encountered God and his face glowed! (Exodus 34:29, 35) Paul went from persecutor of Jesus to martyr for Jesus! My point is simply this: ¬†when you encounter the living God you are forever changed. If you think you can be lukewarm, then you have not been saved but have instead been deceived. Back when I was a “lukewarm Christian” this became abundantly clear to me when I joined a First John Bible study. The Scriptures confronted me with verses that said that I was a big, fat¬†hypocrite¬†and that I was a fraud. Verses like 1 John 1:6, 2:6, 2:17, 2:23, 3:6, 3:10, 3:18, 4:8, 5:3, and 5:19 all served to convict me of my hypocrisy. The Holy Spirit told me to stop pretending! Soon after, by the grace of God, I repented and have trusted in Christ alone for my salvation.

But First John forced me to realize that Jesus didn’t die on a cross for the occasional shout-out; He died to be my Lord. (Although I haven’t finished the book yet, Radical by David Platt is really challenging me in this area and I’ll probably add more thoughts inspired by this book in later entries.)

I challenge you to examine your life in light of what Scripture says a Christian should look like. Read First John and see how you stack up; it can be read in one sitting. Could someone watch you and tell by the way you live your life that you are a Christian? Or would your own actions reveal you to be a hypocrite? It’s a tough question to answer, but it’s one that must be faced. Do I say this judgmentally? No. I say this because I love you too much to keep quiet. My prayer is that you encounter the living God and are forever changed for God’s glory and for your joy!

I’ll be following up this idea in another entry called The Difficulty of Surrender.