There was a Buzzfeed video circulating around last week featuring millennial Christians explaining what makes a Christian. While a lot has been said over the feature, the thing that most struck me was the complete lack of explicit Christian theology. There was no mention of the crucified Christ, the hope in the resurrection, about justification by faith, and our sanctification through the Holy Spirit. No Trinity, grace, repentance, prayer, or historicity of the faith.
What was there? Love.
There was a lot of love talk; however, it was not a costly love. It was cheap grace, to borrow from Bonhoeffer.
What I mean by cheap grace is that it doesn’t cost us anything. It’s an invitation to tolerance, but not to self-sacrificing love as demonstrated by the Messiah. It’s not an invitation for others onto the path of following Jesus, which means we have to put our own self-loving idols in the trash heap. Is it an invitation to perfection? Absolutely not! Christians will screw up time and time again, but we follow the one who did not screw up (to quote from the Greek…) and who restores our broken relationships with God and others.
Jesus calls us to follow him and to carry our cross. He calls us to discipleship, which is incredibly difficult! He calls us to deny our desires at times and to come to terms that some of our desires will be unfulfilled this side of the grave.
But you know what Jesus promises? It will be worth it.
It will be worth it, for he calls us to go into battle—even if the battle will be a long struggle. Paul had a thorn in the flesh that bothered him throughout his ministry and Jesus had an unfulfilled desire to not be crucified. We too might have a thorn in our side that will never go away.
The message of the Buzzfeed video was it is necessary to be loved and accepted, instead of it being necessary to follow Jesus in countercultural ways. Be kind to others, of course! But be rooted in the particular call of the gospel and the call to a discipleship that is shaped by the cross.
I am a Christian who does not have it all together, who is flawed, and does not have all the answers. But I have hope because of the faithfulness of Jesus. Let’s journey together, looking to the founder and perfecter of our faith.