Since starting a walk with Christ I have often encountered 'different kinds of Christians'. For a new believer and for non-believers, in particular, I think this is a very confusing thing. It creates disbelief and questions. Not that questions are bad, asking and listening are how we learn.
I (a representative of ONE believer) have a certain walk with Christ. I have no reason to think my walk isn't exactly right for me. And honestly if it's good for me and works so well for me, it would stand to reason that it would work great for others, Right? Well, that is the dilemma.
"If your walk is so wonderful and your walk has brought you so close to Christ, is it not "the perfect walk", or at the very least great for others too?"
"In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." Ephesians 2: 21-22
"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teaches, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4: 11-13
Try if you can to picture your church. Now picture the people of your church coming together to form Christs body. Each person will enable the body to move and work in different ways. All with the main purpose of glorifying God. You would need many different type of peoples to do different types of works to make the body functional. It stands to reason each person would have to be lead by Christ a little differently.
Now try and see this globally. We as a Body of Believers all over the world will all be a part of the same body doing different tasks. One small example that is close to my heart is with the missionaries that are physically helping the helpless. While another part of the body will be in another area helping to guide non-believers that, little do they know, are going to be missionaries. It is designed to all work together harmoniously. One Body of believers building a larger body of believers.
"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men."
Corinthians 12: 4-6
So we as Believers must always keep in mind that we ALL have a different walk. And each walk can and should be different. The main goal is to listen to what God is leading you to do, not to try and imitate what God is doing in another person's life. On that same note, try to be respectful of others walks, keeping in mind they too are building a relationship with Christ as you are, just maybe in a different way or on a different level. Also, being mindful when speaking to a non-believer not to scare them away from a life with Christ.
Another aspect to all this that was hard for me and still is hard for me at times to remember is we have among us what I will refer to as the "Costume Christians". This to me means a person that puts on this really great costume that displays to all those around them this really wonderful Believer who talks the talk, but has a tendency to really not be walking the walk. What is so sad about this type of Christian is it gives non-believers a false since of what a Christian really is. Also their falsehood can stop the body from functioning at 100%.
You should all know I have a hard time with this word 'Christians' as a description of a believer in the way society today uses it. Shane heard this great sermon somewhere (I'll never remember where) how the word Christian is so over used in our society today. (agreed!) Many "Costume Christians" use this term to loosely describe who they want to be. The word Christian defined means "Disciple of Christ". I'm thinking much more powerful, right? If your a disciple of Christ how could you not walk the walk?!
Many people around me refer to this area of the US as the bible belt......I can not deny that I have definitely used this term in the past myself..... However it is hard for me to respond to those comments. I think this is where the Costume Christian comes in, as well as the different types of Christians.
You are a product of your environment, typically, so if you are raised in a church home that pushes you in one way of sharing the word then chances are you will. Many churches in this area feel the need to push God onto others. Their intentions are good, in that they want you to know God, however the delivery can be a little scary, rude or judgemental at times. My enthusiasm and immaturity has made me guilty of this myself.
I think many churches take a line of scripture and ignore the context before and after it, leaving them an opportunity to utilize it incorrectly. Example below;
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs." Ephesians 5:19
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29
The first verse tells you to use scripture to communicate to others. Great advice you'd think. In reading the context of the book it comes from. It is actually directed towards rules for Christians to follow toward other Christians. If you speak to a non-believer in hymns and psalms they are very likely to think your crazy and write you off as another bible thumper. However if you adopt the second verse listed you are still sharing God's love but in a do as I do way. You are living the word, Gods word, not preaching it in scary, rude and judgemental ways. Lets face it some of the word can and will seem scary, hard and judgemental when you are a non-believer.
God commands us as believers to love others and to build up non-believers with his love. If your not doing this "according to their needs" I have my doubts as to have successful you will be.
It has become very clear to me in the recent months that if I am not careful about how I speak about Christ I can make him look bad. This being the last thing I'd ever want to do! When you are filled with the love of Christ and you begin a relationship with Him it is EXCITING!! When you are excited what do you want to do? Share with everyone, right!? Well, the love of God only makes this need to share a hundred times more powerful! Do take heed and remember how this is most effective; Living it! People learn from watching others, not being "talked to". We learn from observation just like a baby does. After all we are all babies in Gods eyes, learning from our father and the son.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death-
even death on a cross!"
Philippians 2: 3-8
(Read 1 Corinthians 12 for more info on this topic)