Watch out for "selfish Christianity." Yes, that really is a contradiction of terms, but it's something we see in growing numbers these days.
Often you'll see or hear of a celebrity that mentions God. They talk about being blessed. They talk about being thankful for what God has done in their lives. They may even refer to having a spiritual experience. The fruit of their lives, however, is often a glaring contradiction to the Christian lifestyle we read about in the Bible. It is easy for us to look at people like that and say that they are fake — for example, we soon assume that they wear their cross as a fashion statement, without any apparent commitment to Christ. But, have we ever thought that we may be living that same kind of double standard, too!
Are we Christians for the right reason — to honor God, because Jesus is Lord, because God sent His Son to reclaim us? Or, do we simply follow Jesus because we "don't" want to go to hell and "do" want to be blessed, especially blessed with heaven?
Don't get me wrong on this. I am all for receiving God's blessings and for appreciating God's favor. However, some people seem to present God as the best good luck charm there is. Some quote Bible verses that talk about God causing everything they touch to prosper, but do they also read the verses that mention us walking in "His will"? Part of God's favor, part of God's blessing to us is living in "His will" and showing our faithfulness — recognizing that God is at work in our lives to do something special and bring Himself glory (Philippians 2:13). James, the brother of Jesus, says it this way:
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16 NKJV)
We should read the whole Bible, not just the parts we like, realizing that Jesus is working to shape us to be like Himself — sometimes through giving us obvious blessings and sometimes less obvious ones (Luke 6:40). Let's not disguise greed as some sort of spiritual demand on Jesus:
And He [Jesus] said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15).
As Christians we are supposed to die to self and crucify the flesh. We should be seeking God's Kingdom above all other things (Matthew 6:33). The leading of the Holy Spirit is not about pleasing ourselves, but it is to conform us to be like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:28-29).
Not too long ago, I heard Tony Evans say, "With all these churches and all these Christians and all this preaching, we are still in a mess." Doesn't it seem to you that we often are selfish in our approach to Christianity and forget about the call of Jesus to take up our cross and follow Him? I truly believe that God longs to bless us. I fear, however, that some of the blessings we often forget are those that are challenging, hard, and do not seem to immediately pay off. It's precisely in letting go of our selfishness and accepting these challenging blessings that God does His best work in us and ultimately brings us to glory (Philippians 2:5-11).
Lord, help me to die to self, and live for You, instead of being that ultimate oxymoron, a "selfish Christian."