Imagine this scenario: You just meet someone for the first time. You proceed to introduce yourself and in passing, mention that you are a Christian. The person replies, "Oh, I'm a Christian, too." You say, "So, you believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the giver of salvation?" The person responds, "Well, that's what my pastor believes and that's what my parents believe, so, yeah, I guess so." Now, let me ask you: What would your impression of that person's faith be? Would you think that their faith was shallow? Would you question that the existence of their faith at all?
Let me give you another scenario: You are in a conversation with a person you've known for quite some time. You know that they attend church and that they wear clothing and jewelry that is religious in demeanor. You begin talking to them one day because they are wearing a t-shirt that says, "Jesus Saves" on it. You ask them: "What does the statement on your shirt mean?" They reply, "It means that Jesus will save you from your sins." You offer a response, "Do you really think that's true, that Jesus will save people from their sins?" They retort, "Of course I believe it is true." You ask, "Why?" The person replies, "Well, because that's what my parents taught me and that's what I've learned in church." What about this person, what would you think of their faith? Is it legitimate? Is it more grounded than the first person's? Did you notice that the person said nothing about the Bible or the fact that they've studied Jesus' life or that they've experienced Jesus' saving grace in their daily faith as they try to emulate him?
Now, let me give you one more scenario: You are checking your Facebook on Nov 11th (2011) and you see a bunch of friends, who claim to be Christians, saying this (an actual quote from one of my Facebook friends): "A sincere thank you to all the troops who served during war...without you I could not worship the God I love, thank you so much!" You pause and think for a second: "Is this person staking their whole faith on something other than what it should be staked on?" Then you think: "Okay, so, this person is suggesting that if they lived in a country where there was no U.S. military, they would not have faith and they would not worship? They will only worship when they are protected by bombs and guns and soldiers?" Furthermore, if they were in a foreign context where there wasn't a U.S. war machine, they would not be a Christian? Just as well, is this person suggesting that some mere human gave them the Gospel and gave them the right to believe and worship or that God gave them the Gospel and the right to worship and believe?
In all three of these scenarios, we see examples of someone whose faith and motives for worship are simply misplaced and misguided. Especially in the last scenario, which is relevant on this government sanctioned Veteran's Day, which pushes the wider public, including Christians, to back the government war machine known as the military, this is especially and particularly true. I would suggest that you might not be a Christian if you stake the claims of your faith on a soldier, military, government, bombs, etc. If you would not worship God in another place, a place perhaps where Christianity is illegal and you might be persecuted, you might well not be a Christian. You might be like those people in Mark's Gospel who once heard the Gospel but soon after the roots withered and the plant died.
So, the moral of the story: If you are one who calls yourself a Christian, examine what you really believe. If it is predicated on anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ, you are not a Christian; you are accepting another message, which is no Gospel at all. If you base your faith on a human being or a military machine, you are buying into something that is antithetical to the life, message and work of Jesus Christ. I know that looking deep at one's faith is hard, that's why I started with three scenarios about other people. But hopefully, in the end, you are examining your own faith and why it is what it is. Hopefully, it is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness and hopefully, it is not built on a military machine that promotes war and violence. If you're okay with the results of the picture in the upper left-hand corner of this post, well, you might ask yourself whether you're a Christian or not.