By now many of you have no doubt seen the viral video “I’m a Christian, but…” (click the image above to view it). Not only has the video been making the rounds, but the hashtag #IAmAChristianBut is ubiquitous on social media right now.
After you watch the video, it’s obvious that this is a propaganda piece for a version of Christianity that is Christian in name only–a progressivist vision of the faith that has more to do with maintaining street-cred with Christianity’s cultured despisers than with the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It is what the apostle Paul called a “form of godliness” while “denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). It is gutless–literally, a hollowing out of everything essential to the faith.
Far from being Christocentric, this display is Christo-absent. Not one of these “Christians” even mentions Jesus. Their definition of the faith displays no connection even implicitly to the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Even disinterested observers can tell that this is more than a glaring oversight. It is an attempt to label love for worldliness as love for Christ. It undermines any credible claim that these testimonials can be in any sense authentically Christian.
And indeed, the substance of their testimony is this. “We are Christian, but are not like those other Christians who actually follow Christ’s teachings.” Nevermind the fact that Jesus taught that sex outside marriage is sin (Mark 7:21). Nevermind that Jesus defined marriage as fundamentally heterosexual in nature—the permanent union of one man and one woman until death parts them (Matthew 19:4-6). Nevermind that Jesus defines discipleship as being willing to follow Jesus even if it costs you your life (Matthew 16:24). These “Christians” have a version of Christianity that dispenses with all of that rubbish that Jesus taught.
The apostle John once warned against those who call themselves Christian but who don’t actually follow Jesus:
“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” -1 John 2:4-6
In other words, the mark of authentic Christianity in a person’s life is the willingness to follow everything that Jesus calls us to. This obedience isn’t the cause of our salvation; it is the fruit of our salvation. It is the proof that our hearts truly have been renewed by the Holy Spirit when we love what Jesus loves—including his commands which are countercultural. Jesus himself said it this way:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” -John 14:21-24
The testimonials in this video are not demonstrating this kind of love. They demonstrate a love for the world and its values not a love for Christ and his Kingdom (1 John 2:15-17). And that is the problem.
Contrary to what this video indicates, Christianity is not a choose-your-own-adventure story in which you get to define the terms of your relationship to God. God has defined the terms of our redemption, and they are irreducibly Christocentric. God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf in order that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus taught us that we receive this salvation by repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ to save us (Mark 1:15). That conversion issues forth in a life devoted to God and His purposes. To miss these truths is to miss Christianity altogether. And that omission is what is on display in this video.
I would say to every person in this video and to all who are sympathetic to what they are teaching. You really can be a Christian. You can know Christ and the power of his resurrection life. You can be saved and be made a part of his family. But you will have to come on his terms—by repentance and faith. And you will have to take up your cross and follow him. If you try to save your life—including your sexual freedom—you will lose your life for eternity. But if you are willing to lose your life—and all that entails—you will save it for eternity (Matthew 16:25-26).
That is real Christianity, and I hope you will join us.