Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Am I a Hyphenated Christian?

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September 12, 2012 
Am I a Hyphenated Christian?

Today's Truth
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it 

Friend to Friend
Over the past fifty years or so, I've noticed a trend among married women. Rather than taking their husband's last name, some simply add their husband's name to their own, adjoining the two with a hyphen and keeping theirs intact. Mary Smith becomes Mary Smith-Jones. Betty James becomes Betty James-Riley.

Now I know there are a plethora of reasons for having a hyphenated last name. And I know there may be a multitude of opinions on the subject. I'm not here to voice an opinion about the trend itself, but I do have an opinion about how it mirrors the way many folks view their relationship with Jesus. Hyphenated Christians abound.
I have to ask myself, am I a hyphenated Christian? Have I simply tacked Jesus onto my already busy life? Have I tacked the title "Christian" onto the long list of words that describe who I am and what I believe? Is Jesus just another add-on? Is He an app I've downloaded for easy access? Have I taken on Jesus' name to some extent, but kept my own identity unchanged? Jesus would have thought that preposterous. He said, "I am in my Father, and You are in me, and I am in You," (John 14:20).
Becoming a Christian is serious business. It is an all or nothing proposition, and I fear we have watered it down to simply something we add on to our already busy lives. Jesus is not someone you add to your life. When you come to Him, He becomes your life.
C. S. Lewis notes the following about the Christian life:
Christ says, "Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours." [C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 169.]

Jesus warned those who were considering becoming one of His disciples. It was an all or nothing proposition. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it," (Matthew 16:24-25). 

Imagine if your husband proposed marriage to you with the following caveat: "Dear one, I love you and adore you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I promise to be faithful to you 360 days a year. But I do have this thing for blondes, and well, you are a brunette. So five days of the year, I'll keep to myself. But the other 360 days, I'm all yours!"

I don't know which cheek I'd slap first, the right or the left. But I do know that man's ring would not go on my finger.
Making Jesus not only Savior, but also Lord of your life, involves a certain exclusivity that is somewhat similar to marriage, but unmistakably unique to any human relationship. The union involves our entire being and not one molecule goes unaffected. This relationship is all-exclusive, meaning that it excludes every other possible "god" that you could place upon the throne of your life, and it is all-inclusive, meaning there is no part of your life in which Jesus does not rule. When true union takes place, a certain sweetness flavors all of life.
Let's Pray
Lord, please forgive me for acting like a hyphenated Christian who has simply tacked You on to my busy life. I want You to have all of me. All of me. All of me. 
In Jesus' Name,

Now It's Your Turn
I'm thinking that you're thinking. So I'm not going to give you any extra questions…just one. Ask yourself…Am I a hyphenated Christian?