Are There Different Kinds Of Christians? - Guidelines Devotional

Are There Different Kinds Of Christians?

Guidelines for Living Daily Devotional
August 26, 2020

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”  Mark 15:39

Is it possible for you to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but without getting too radical about it?   Putting it another way:  Are there different kinds of Christians?  Can you be a Christian by degrees, believing some things but not really becoming a fanatic?

Long ago a young man struggled with this very issue.  In his youth his sexual escapades were well known.  We might have labeled him a sex addict today.  According to his own admission, he was trapped, as he put it, in "the swirling mists of lust" that thrust him into the "whirlpools of vice."   He went to church and maintained a facade of religious respectability, but as he later reflected on his behavior, he considered his life to be an intolerable moral contradiction.  The man's name?  Today we know him as St. Augustine, but a saint he was not in the early years of his life.  Eventually Augustine was attracted to a famous preacher who was the Bishop of Milan, and listening to him, Augustine began to see himself as he really was.  Eventually he was convicted and his life was changed completely.

Augustine didn't believe that you could be a Christian apart from bowing in submission and recognition of Jesus Christ’s right to rule in your life. We call this willingness discipleship.  Writing of Augustine's concept of discipleship, Richard Foster said, "Augustine did not believe, as is so common today, that one could be a convert to Christ without being a disciple of Christ.  For him, conversion and discipleship were two sides to the same door‑‑both were necessary for one to pass through the doorway.  He knew that “receiving Christ” required a radical re‑ordering of his life.  He had counted the cost and understood that conversion meant a lifestyle without his mistress and a profession other than rhetoric, which he believed taught “the arts of deception.”

"Even more, he knew that turning to Christ meant turning from the arrogance and intellectual pride that had driven him so fiercely...  For Augustine, conversion was not assenting easily to a few propositions; it was restructuring his whole life."

What does it mean to be a Christian today?  Go to church?  Watch your language?  Try not to cheat?   Before you answer, think about a few of these statements from the Bible.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Then reflect on Jesus' uncompromising words to His disciples:  "No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24).

As you grow in your understanding of your new life in Christ and your knowledge of the Bible, your commitment and your love relationship should affect every part of your life.  But, if your attitudes and behavior show no change, your faith is only theory.    Again, Jesus challenged the disciples and He challenges us with a question:  "Why do you call Me Lord and do not the things I command you?" (Luke 6:46). “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today,” wrote Brendon Manning, “is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”[1]

Surrender of your life to Jesus Christ is not a decision to make lightly.  But, in Jesus’ own words, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).

Resource reading: Luke 18:18-30.

[1] Simpson, Ben. “The Ragamuffin Legacy,” June 7, 2017.


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