Are you a victim of sound-bite Christianity?

Every Christian feels a special attraction to Jesus Christ. Even atheists have admired the love that Jesus displayed for His contemporaries. There’s something about Jesus that has appealed to billions of people over the last 2000 years.

Yet, for many Christians, their knowledge of the Faith is often limited to a few famous quotes or parables of Jesus that have remained in their memory since childhood. This is particularly true for newcomers to Christianity or individuals who have stopped attending church. This lack of knowledge and understanding creates a genuine risk of oversimplification of Christ’s message by relying on a few quotes taken out of context.

One of the most commonly quoted phrases of Jesus is “do not judge”. I’ve heard even non-Christians using this phrase to avoid feeling inadequate after revealing something they feel guilty about. Nobody likes feeling inadequate, so such a reaction is quite understandable. But authentic Christianity cannot limit itself to sound-bites of the Gospel message or snippets of the Bible that suit our emotions and insecurities.

Every Christian needs to realize that Christ’s message is a coherent whole. All of His teachings are intricately woven together into a self-reinforcing expression of the Truth. Remember that the Truth is not merely a collection of abstract thoughts. The Truth is a somebody. His name is Jesus Christ, who said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. To be a Christian, to love Jesus, is also to seek the Truth in its entirety. Jesus and the Truth are one and the same.

It’s not possible to love Jesus while rejecting certain aspects of Him and His Truth. Can a husband say “I embrace all of my wife except her sense of humour? Except her intelligence?” Anything less than a total acceptance of his wife means a partial rejection of some aspect of her. This prevents union. The same is true of Christ and His Truth. Unless we accept the totality of Him and His message, we are rejecting one or more parts of Him.

As a Christian, do you want to be rejecting Jesus? Why would you do that? Doesn’t that contradict the loving and inclusive image of Jesus that attracted you in the first place?

Let’s take a step back from Christianity for a moment. Every mature adult, whether Christian or otherwise, needs to be honest with himself/herself. This is a basic tenet of modern psychology. We need to be frank with ourself about who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, as well as the deepest desires of our hearts. We must be in touch with our innermost self and compare it to who we want to become. Sometimes our introspection reveals disturbing things about ourself that we’d rather not admit. But it’s very beneficial for us to discover the truth about ourselves.

If you’re struggling with some aspect of Christianity that you refuse to accept, perhaps you need to examine your inner motives and ask yourself some blunt questions. Why do I refuse this teaching? What’s holding me back? Do I have good reasons to reject part of Jesus, or am I being driven by some internal impediment that is inconsistent with Christianity, such as selfishness?  Do my motives reveal an imperfection in me that I need to fix?

Be honest with yourself. Don’t hold back from Christ. Embrace Him completely.

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