There seems to be a misconception about being a Christian. People seem to think that Christians are either especially “spiritual” people, or else they’re holier-than-thou idiots who blindly believe some unintelligent fairy tales about God, etc. There are other attitudes that are somewhere between those two opinions, but the general belief is that Christians are guilty of turning off their brains and “going on faith”. But the faith involved in being a Christian is not blind, not mindless, not willing to accept whatever one is told.
Jesus said that the greatest command of all involves loving the Lord your God with all your mind. That means thinking through things, examining, asking questions and not being satisfied with ignorance. It also means coming to know who you are in relation to God, and that is far from being a cosy and comfortable process. Christians are not, in that sense, holier than thou. They are people who know that they have been given a gift: forgiveness, love, salvation, that they do not deserve and have not earned.
Their only claim to any of this, is that Jesus died and rose for their sake, individually and personally. They have come to the Lord, not because they have any right to do so, but because he called them to come and made it possible by his death on their behalf. It really is amazing grace, as John Newton put it.
Perhaps in this age when so many Christians sing choruses, instead of solid and meaty hymns, we are missing out on the truth of this. So, let me invite you to read something that puts the entire gospel into a song of joy. Charlotte Elliott wrote it in 1835 to express her certainty about her position before God. It was not dependant on her feelings, her worthiness, or her activities. It was all because of Jesus, and her only claim to be confident in her salvation was because Jesus had assured her and called her, and given her his righteousness and salvation.
Every Christian can say or sing these words “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”, as Peter put it. If these seem foreign to you, think about what they are saying and realise that “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” [Acts 2.39]
Faith is not blind: it is simply trusting Jesus that what he says is true, what he did, he did for you, personally. Every time I start to feel like the undeserving moron I know I can be in my deepest self, I think of these words, and remember that God loves me as I am, knowing exactly who and what I am. He is not asking us to change and better people before we can be acceptable to him, because he knows we can never be that good. But if we have the humility to agree with his verdict on us, then we know that we stand by grace alone.
Too good to be true? I must say, for myself, that after forty-three years as a Christian, it is more true now than ever before. Just as it was the day I first trusted him, so it is today:
“Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Just as I am, Thy love unknown has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”