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April 12, 2019

Hyphenated-Christians

Lately I’ve been struck by the number of hyphenated-Christians emerging in the American Church. We hear the various religious views of Baptist or Presbyterian-Christians, Republican or Democrat-Christians, White or African-American Christians, and Male or Female-Christians. The most recent is LBTG-Christians. What? I guess that makes me a white-male-heterosexual-Southern Baptist-Christian. In my opinion, a few other terms describe the current hyphenated-Christians hysteria: Crossless-Christians, Bibleless-Christians, and Christless-Christians. 

First, I think many today are Crossless-Christians. Consider Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”Using a hyphen to identify our “brand” of Christianity works directly against dying to self. As a believer, I too, died at the Cross, surrendering my identity in order to identify with Christ alone. 

The Apostle Paul doubles down on this principle in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Paul’s faith was marked by the absence of cultural identity other than the Cross of Christ. The only time he used his Jewish heritage was to proclaim the Gospel.

The previous point helps state the case for Bibleless-Christians, but I’ll add one more text to the premise. Paul writing to the church in Rome states, “Forthere is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same lord is lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on him”(Romans 10:12). In other words, no one group gets to have their own version of the Gospel! It doesn’t matter where I preach, I use the same Bible and present the same Gospel with the same invitation to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. And I’ve seen people from varied backgrounds and in many countries respond positively. Every believer who calls on the Lord, has the same Lord. 

So no ethnicity, sexual preference, religious or political affiliation allows for any other truth than biblical truth. The Bible is the microscope under which we examine culture and character; determining whether or not they align with truth. When we invert this process and scrutinize the Bible through the lens of culture, it demonstrates ignorance of God. It is humanity seeking to establish righteousness without Jesus Christ. 

Finally, I think the American Church has many Christless-Christians, as evidenced by our behavior towards one another. Generalizations have led to polarization. Instead of dealing directly with sinful behavior, there is a rush to shame the accused and victimize anyone who can be profiled. Although Jesus refused to get drawn into the culture war between the Jews and Romans, He never shied away from the battle for the souls of mankind. He always turned the conversation to eternal matters because He knew that eternal justice was the greatest justice. 

Will you join me in avoiding the hyphenated-Christians hysteria? We do this by daily taking up the Cross, dying to self, and identifying with Christ alone through the Holy Spirit. All while grounding our opinions and affections in the Word of God. That doesn’t mean we deny or overlook wrong-doing. Rather, we recognize that “there is no distinction.” Every Christian shares in the victory of the blood-stained cross, the empty tomb, and the occupied heavenly throne.    

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