Being a Christian is more than making a decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. Being a Christian is a decision to be conformed to the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself explained how seeds of faith that are planted sometimes show signs of growth that don’t last. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower, stating that it is only the seed that is planted on the good soil that bears fruit.
In many Christian circles today, we have developed a one-dimensional Jesus. Jesus is presented to an unbeliever as a good deal. It may sound too good to be true, but all you need to do is make a decision for Christ and you will be saved. We focus on a one-time decision and ignore the long and tedious process of opening your heart, mind and spirit every day in deeper ways so that you move toward actually becoming indistinguishable from Jesus as the result of that decision. Jesus is much more than a ticket to heaven. We actually dumb Jesus down when we don’t live out the wonder of what it means to be a Christian. Literally being a Christian means being a little Christ. Being a Christian is making a decision for Christ every day several times a day. It is being converted in the deepest recesses of our souls by the absolute love of Christ and the desire to become exactly like Him. It is a rare Christian who sets his sights so high as to consider becoming like Christ, yet that is the very essence of what it means to be a Christian.
During a recent seminar Dr. James Packer stated, “You have to help people into real repentance as much as you help them into real faith.” He commented that when it looks as if people have fallen from faith it’s probably that they weren’t truly converted at a deep level of reality. He believes some people are forced to make a decision before they are clearheaded, and a deep enough decision for Christ has not been made.
There is nothing in the Gospels or in the Epistles that would make one believe that Jesus could be dumbed down into a one-dimensional Jesus who merely grants access to heaven in exchange for a “decision for Christ.” I believe this kind of teaching is the worst kind of humanism. It becomes all about the presenter selling to another a kind of eternal life insurance gimmick and less about the miraculous work of God that takes place on so many levels when a soul is snatched from hell and reset on course to have eternal life with God through Jesus Christ.
Paul fought hard against false Christianity in writing to the Galatians. He described it this way in Galatians 4:19: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Being a Christian is about Christ being formed in us. Encouraging others to become a Christian felt like labor of childbirth according to Paul. This is a far cry from the kind of one-dimensional, gimmicky Christianity that is offered. Jean-Pierre de Caussade said, “Jesus confused his disciples by his resurrection appearances.” Sometimes he seemed disguised, and they thought he was someone else. Then he would reveal himself clearly and they would know exactly who he was. This same Jesus, still living and active, continues to catch us by surprise if we do not have the eyes of faith. Make sure you are not being deceived by accepting a humanized, one-dimensional Jesus and that you have the eyes of faith required to know that He is more magnificent that you could ever imagine—and what is most incredible of all is that He can actually be formed in you.