According to a recent study on teenagers and their faith "more American teenagers are embracing...a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem." If you're like most of the 3,300 teenagers interviewed who call themselves Christians but can't explain their beliefs and aren't living what they say they believe, then you probably need to ask yourself if you're just faking it.
Maybe we should define "faking it" first before we try to figure out if that's what we're doing. Fake Christians have been around since Jesus first kicked this thing off. Think of Judas, the one who betrayed Him in the garden. Here was a guy who walked around with Jesus for years, and who everyone thought was a straight up disciple like the others, but secretly he didn't really believe and in the end he betrayed Jesus and destroyed his own life. That story alone tells me that there have been, and will continue to be, fakers right up to the highest positions in the church. Also, in Matthew 7 Jesus is talking specifically about fakers (false prophets and wolves in sheep's clothing) when He says:
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"
What I learn from that passage is that some people who walk around doing good things and calling themselves Christians aren't really Christians at all because they have no relationship with Jesus. Maybe they do the good things because it makes them look good. Or maybe it's all about their own fame and glory, but the point of this life is not to work hard at being good, but to know, love and follow Jesus. What these two examples tell me is that a faker is someone who looks like a Christian on the outside but their heart is far from Jesus, and in the end what He really wants is your heart, not your empty actions. If Judas had really loved and believed in Jesus, he would never have lied, cheated and betrayed Him. In the same way, if we really love Jesus, we'll spend our lives running after Him instead of just going through the motions and not having time for Him. It doesn't mean anything to Him if you go to church every Sunday, volunteer at a homeless shelter each week and call yourself a Christian, but never get to know Him.
So are you getting to know Him or are you just playing the part? Do you call yourself a Christian and live however you want or are you letting Him change your heart so you can live according to His plan? If you truly believe, you change your views to match His instead of expecting Him to be ok with your personal choices. Like we know that He's against sexual immorality of any kind so do you make it to youth group every week, but still have big make out parties with guys at every opportunity? And can you even explain to someone what it means to follow Jesus or would you be stumped if someone asked?
If you're thinking that following Jesus might be a harder gig that you had been told, keep in mind that you're in a battle, and there is an enemy who's working hard to make sure you don't make it into the Kingdom. If satan can keep you a faker for your whole life then he wins and you lose more than you can even imagine. In Luke 13 Jesus tells us that few find the way into the Kingdom of God and that we should "strive to enter through the narrow door". That word strive comes from the Greek agonizomai which means to fight or struggle for something; it's where we get our English word "agonize". So the question then is, do I agonize over this relationships with Jesus like I do over my relationships with friends and family? Do I fight as hard to hold onto Him as I do to hold onto those things in my life that are most important to me? None of us are saved so we can live however we want - playing with sex and other worldly pursuits and coasting on our imagined salvation. This pursuit of Jesus is a lifelong thing and a daily battle to choose Him and His plans over the world and our own. If you call yourself a Christian but live however you choose, then you probably aren't one. Sounds harsh but biblically it's true. If you call yourself a Christian but you're sinning just as hard as everyone around you, with no intention of stopping, then you need to recognize that you're in trouble and decide whether you want to fight to really believe, or if you're content to just fake it and see what happens. Keep in mind it's your eternity that's on the line here, not just this short life.
If you could use a boost and want to see what it looked like for one young man to truly believe in and follow Jesus, check out the book I Would Die for You. I blogged about it this month so if you're interested in being challenged click here for more about BJ Higgins and his short but convicting life..
And don't shy away from challenging your parents, your churches, and your youth pastors if the Christianity they're modeling is nothing to get excited about. Biblically, that shouldn't be the case and if "Christian" adults are faking it, how can we expect young people to do any better?