There are seven words I have heard over and over in two different ways that really trouble me. They are, ” You can’t be a Christian if you….” and ” You can’t be a Christian and do..” Every time I hear these words said it breaks my heart and honestly frustrates me. By saying something like this aren’t we really saying, “Since you believe differently than me and I am a true Christian then if you believe differently, you can’t possibly be a Christian?” This is not pointed at anyone directly, in fact I haven’t heard or seen it from anyone I know. It’s just comments I have heard from other people or read in other people’s posts, tweets and blogs. It’s sad.
I was praying about this and the Lord reminded me of how he compares his people to trees. Like a tree there are different stages of growth as a Christian. There is the sapling or brand new baby Christian who is just developing. He or she is just learning about the bible and what it says. They are being nourished through one on one mentoring, church, small groups and bible study. They are young and should not be expected to have the maturity as those who are in a different stage of their life.
The second stage of a tree’s life is the juvenile stage. This is where the most rapid times of growth come. they are beginning to establish themselves in their surroundings. A juvenile Christian is forming his thoughts and learning and soaking up everything he or she can. Just like the tree they are strong but they can also be easily broken. When they are free to grow and not injured, they will respond with rapid growth, be solidly established, and found in good health.
The third stage of a tree is the prime of life or mature stage. Trees like a Christian in their prime of life will take care of themselves with little outside help.Growth continues at a slower, steady pace.Just like the branches of the tree that are strong so is the christian strong at this place, and their opinions are pretty formed.
The fourth stage of tree is the middle age or post mature. The tree may prune some of its unproductive branches. They are intolerant of disturbances. The tree’s energy reserves are good and balanced allowing it to fight diseases effectively. Like the tree a Christian at this stage is growing up and has formed his or her opinions and is discovering what belief systems need to be eliminated as they are understanding the word and applying it to their life. They also can become intolerant of anything or anyone disagreeing with what they believe and are not afraid to stand up for that belief.
There are a couple more stages but I think you get my point by now.
What I’m trying to say is: people like tree grow in stages. It has nothing to do with age but with maturity in their walks. Their systems are being formed as they are nurtured and allowed to grow. We can all be at these stages in different things like politics, denominational beliefs, what we allow into our life, what we eat or drink, what we celebrate etc…So to say someone can’t be a christian if they……..is not allowing for stages of growth in that particular area and could be a bit judgmental if it is lacking in discernment and there is a difference……..maybe I’ll write about that at a different time.
It’s so important that we know the heart and maturity of people before we throw out random comments like that. Not that we should even throw out comments like that. I know some great Christian people in my life that think totally different then me but they are strong in their love, walk and belief in the Lord. It could be that I might not be at that stage of life yet…just a thought.