Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Card Christianity

Years ago the movie "Green Card" came out.  The plot revolved around two strangers getting married – not out of love, but out of convenience.  The one would get an American green card, the other a fancy apartment.  After the wedding the two would separate, get on with their lives, and live life as they wanted (at least, that was the plan)...

Unfortunately, it seems, some people go through a similar process in becoming a “Christian".
They hear that the heavenly country is a little better than the other option and that if they say a prayer and sign a card, then presto, they get citizenship and all the rights that go with it!  So they say “I do” to Jesus and then keep right on living as they had before…

But is that what coming to Christ is all about?  Saying “yes,” then living as you please?  Does going to church or saying a prayer mean you are “in”? 
Well, it may - if it’s the start of a life-long passionate relationship with the Son of God. 

But, on the other hand, it may not. 

Jesus and the disciples seemed to suggest that there was much more involved than a good beginning.  When our Master walked this earth he didn’t tell people to just say a prayer.  He told them to follow (Mt 4:19; Lk 5:27).  He called them to repent (Mt 4:17[1]) and leave their old ways behind, walk with him and make him central to everything they would do from that point onwards (Lk 9:23-25).  Saying a prayer is a good way to start…but it needs to be followed up with a life that’s radically centered on Christ.  It means intentionally switching allegiance from self to Him.  It transforms the way we think and talk and spend our money and use our time and talents.  Everything becomes surrendered to Jesus and his kingdom.  Jesus talked about a narrow door and a narrow way (Mt 7:13,14)…not a narrow door with a broad way, where we squeeze in then live as we’d like.

In the movie, things unraveled when an immigration officer checked in on them and discovered the truth.  And I sometimes wonder what would happen if someone checked in on us and our devotion to Jesus?  Would they see much in common with him?  Would our love for each other be visible?  Would we know his ways, spend time together and be growing daily in our relationship with him? 

Just as in a marriage you need to continue to love each other, serve each other, live with each other, listen and talk to each other – the same is needed in our relationship with Jesus!  There’s no such thing as “Green Card” Christianity, if by that we mean saying “I do” then living as we want.[2]  You might be able to fool the American government, but you can’t fool Christ!  

> If you liked this article you may also want to check out:
Spiritual Narcolepsy.

[1] The exact same message of repentance was preached by John the Baptist (Mt 3:2), Peter (Acts 2:38) and Paul (Acts 26:20) and recorded by the apostle John (Rev 2:4,5).
[2] Just so there’s no confusion, let me say that I have nothing against people getting Green Cards.  In fact, my wife is in the process of getting one.  (Actually, being Canadian, it’s commonly referred to as a “Maple Leaf Card”).

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