One of the greatest divides that categorises men and women is found in the question: “Are you a Christian?” If you answer no you are classed as a “non-Christian”. The Christians are in, and the non-Christians are lost outside somewhere.
We are so used to using the phrase that we often forget to really think about what we are saying. By “Christian”, do we mean someone goes to church on Sunday? Someone who has been baptised as a baby (or adult)? Someone who was born in a Christian country? Someone who assents mentally to a set of teachings about the death and resurrection of Christ? Someone brought up in a Christian home or culture? Someone who is “nice”? Someone who is nasty but repentant? Someone who is “born again”? Someone who “speaks in tongues”? Someone who is definitely not a Hindu or a Muslim……or a Jew?
I was recently in Northern India and I asked a local man what he thought a Christian was like. “Britney Spears” was his answer!
Was Jesus a Christian?
Let me share with you a simple insight which has helped me find a more satisfying answer to this delicate issue.
Are you a “heaven bringer”?
Does the atmosphere change when you walk into a room? Does joy break through the inner darkness of your sinful heart? Do your thoughts and words carry life? Are you carrying and encouraging others? Do you meditate heaven’s words, breathe heaven’s air and converse with God?
Jesus was the ultimate “heaven bringer.” Heaven became flesh in his human form. It oozed out of his every pore and contaminated a “hellish” world with love, healing and forgiveness. Heaven stepped willingly into everyman’s hell and rescued all those willing to take hold of his hand and be drawn upwards. His heaven invaded earth as a new regime, overthrowing the evil rule of death and sin. It declared war on evil and destroyed the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
If there is the possibility of being a “heaven bringer” there may also be the opposite potential of being a “hell bringer”. Jean Paul Sartre, in his play “No exit”had one of his characters declare.
“Hell is other people.”
We humans have been born with an amazing potential to make other people’s lives hell! We need rescuing from the natural hell which resides in our very hearts.
Jesus himself warned in Matthew 18:6 about the terrible consequences of “causing little ones to sin”.
“If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.”
Now for a bit of “Star Trek”! One of the most awesome things in the universe is the “Black Hole”; a heavy mass of concentrated gravity that simply draws everything into itself. I’ve known people who are like that! They suck out the life from around them and bring darkness and centripetal heaviness.
On the other hand there is also the phenomenon of the “Super Nova”; an exploding sun, a big bang, giving sacrificial birth to a new universe, creative and life giving. A centrifugal force of living energy!
Are you a black hole or a super nova? Are you a heaven bringer, carrying the “good news of the kingdom” to those trapped in hell?
Jesus’ body on earth, the church, should also share his vocation as a heaven bringer. We are called to push back the gates of hell.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19
God has given “keys” to his church. What do you do with a key? You open a door. God has given us the key to open the door of heaven and see his will and rule breaking forth on earth. These are also keys to open the door of heaven within our own hearts that are all too often “locked up” and bound in sadness. Unlock the joy and peace that is yours in Christ!
“Anyone seen my keys?”
“…… for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age…” Hebrews 6:4-5