Can Authentic Christians Deny Jesus? Part 4
For me, trying to understand my relationship with God in Christ has always been difficult. I think it’s because mentally, I’ve consistently overshot it. By that I simply mean that I have tended to think about it in unrealistic terms, which has always left me frustrated.
It’s when I pull back and start to think in terms of a relationship I have with another person that things start coming into focus. Yes, of course, I realize that as a Christian, I am in relationship with God Himself – amen! – however, there are many aspects of that relationship that are similar to other human relationships.
I’ve been using marriage as an example of relationships and what happens when we fail to work at them. This really isn’t far-fetched since the Church makes up the Bride of Christ. Paul takes pains to compare our human relationships in marriage to the fact that Jesus is the Head over the Church – His Bride – in Ephesians 5:15-32. Jesus Himself uses the marriage situation as well in Matthew 25:1-13.
Certainly, there is a deeply spiritual element to our union with Christ. That cannot be denied Scripturally. However, the relationship we enter into with Jesus is also very practical and pragmatic. There are things we must do and ways in which we must live in order to continue to fellowship with Jesus.
Consider a married couple and how they get along. Things can either be good, bad, or indifferent between them and it all has to do with their outlook toward the other person and how seriously they take their commitments to one another. As has been stated, the man who strays mentally (and quite possibly, emotionally and physically) essentially denies the truth that he is married to one person and has committed himself to her until death do they part. It is important to understand that he has done more than “cheat” on his wife (even if it goes no further than mental fantasies). He has actually denied that he is in a monogamous relationship to her.
How could he avoid this? There are only two ways that I’m aware of. First, that man could use his energy and willpower (such as it is) to avoid thinking of other women in compromising situations. I think we would agree that this is probably better than nothing, but it really doesn’t solve the problem. In that case, the husband is still focusing on the temptation to lust and fantasize about other women. It’s like an alcoholic constantly seeing his “need” for a drink and trying to fight it with sheer willpower. Even “giving” it to the Lord might not be successful. There must be a better way.
Second. that husband – instead of trying to fight off the temptation to fantasize about strange women – can replace those mental images with mental images of his own wife. In other words, he can start to return his focus back onto his wife. Why would he do this? Because of his love for her and the commitment he made to her. In this case, he is allowing his love and initial commitment for and to his wife to draw him back to her so that he starts to ignore the strange women and remain true to his wife.
A husband who does this is proving his love for his wife. He understands that temptations will come and there are at least two ways to deal with them, with the latter being a better way to deal with it than the former.
We noted Genesis 20 where Abraham insisted that his wife, Sarah, lie to the Egyptians because he feared for his life. She complied. However, in this case, Abraham was denying his marriage for selfish gain. He didn’t want to be killed and there is really no indication that this would have happened. Nonetheless, this is what Abraham believed so he came to the place where he denied his marriage and asked Sarah to support him in that. Again, regardless of the reason, Abraham became guilty of denying the truth about Sarah. This can and does happen to Christians throughout the world, especially in America. We have gotten too easy on ourselves. We have no real strength within us and we often deny our commitment to Christ because we don’t want to stand out or draw attention to ourselves.
Think about something. If you worked at a place where you’d heard that a group of people regularly engaged in the practice of “wife-swapping,” and you were asked to join in, you would – hopefully – decline. You might even explain that your commitment is to your wife and her only. Would they laugh at you? Maybe. Might they begin to ridicule you? Possibly. Yet, you stick to your guns and decline. You do so because you love your wife. It’s part of the contract you entered into with her.
So what is our commitment with Jesus when we became Christians? It seems like too often, we tend to think of it in terms of what we are allowed to do and what we are not allowed to do. In other words, being a Christian means following a list of do’s and don’ts, right? Have you ever felt that way? It reminds me of the way the Prodigal Son tended to think in Luke 15:11-32. That young man had some pent-up anger toward his father. The son saw himself as being no better than a servant, even though that was certainly not the case. Because of the son’s incorrect thinking, he related to his father in a very unhealthy (because he was wrong) way. That unhealthy attitude created within him anger, which eventually prompted him to walk away from his father…after he insisted that he receive his inheritance first, of course!
Segue to the end of the parable and we see an astounding situation. After he returns home, because of the father’s continued love for his son, the son finally begins to see the truth about his father. I believe he came to the realization that he (the son) was absolutely wrong about his father. His father was not like he thought he was at all. In fact, he now saw that his father had treated him more than fairly in spite of how disrespectful he had been toward his father.
What do you think this did within him? Do you think it caused the son to approach working for his father in a completely different vein? He was essentially doing the same things he had done before but his attitude was now quite different. The father had truly gained his son back because that son now saw his father as he was in reality. No longer would the son simply go through the motions (a way of denying emotionally) as he completed jobs around the ranch. Now, he did them because he understood just how much his father loved him. Again, he would perform the same jobs, but the motivation for completing those jobs was completely different from what he had been prior to the Prodigal Son walking away from the father and breaking off fellowship with him.
I can even see the Prodigal Son eventually breaking down in tears because of his realization of just how much his father loved him and how wrong and rude he had been toward his father. Because of his experience of being away from home, he had come full circle. Now, instead of hating his father and all the work he had to do around the ranch, he gloried in it because it was his way of showing his father how much he loved him! He was eager to please, eager to go out of his way to impress his father, and eager to make sure that the jobs he was assigned were done to the best of his ability. The things that tried to take his mind off those jobs were easily ignored because he understood that they were simply temptations which, if followed through, would return him to the time when he lacked a true understanding regarding his father.
It is extremely important that we Christians understand two things. First, we need to understand just how much God loves us, and second, we must also understand just exactly what Jesus expects from us in this life. He hasn’t left us without that information. Last time, I ended with a three-word summation of John 15; Abide, love, and testify.
We need to look at them closely and determine how, by aligning ourselves with them, we end up fulfilling the commandments of Jesus. We’ll try to wrap this short series up and get back to 1 John. Join me then!
Entry filed under: christianity, Emotional virtue, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: denying christ, denying Jesus, fellowship with jesus, the prodigal son.