Several weeks ago I read an editorial piece that asked the question if President Lincoln was a Christian. It noted Lincoln included God in his speeches and even asked the country to repent, fast and pray nine times in his presidency. In fact that makes him sound more like a preacher or prophet than a president … but does being a preacher mean you are a Christ-Follower?
It should, but many will do lots of things in the name of Jesus and still hear, “I never knew you.”
Lincoln prayed a lot and told people the Bible was the inspired written Word of God … he liked the Psalms and sought the wisdom that the Bible offered … that statement alone makes me wonder about this great leader.
That old saying, “There are no atheists in fox holes” kept echoing in my head as I thought about this question. It also made me realize we assess people’s faith or the evidence of by things like church attendance, a prayer life and do they read their Bible’s daily … sometimes we think if people are nice they must be a Christian.
I don’t know about you but I look at some people’s lives and they are in habitual violation of the most basic Christian precepts … grace is free but it’s not cheap … to be a Christian (Christ-Follower) shouldn’t you be following Christ? To be a disciple of someone doesn’t that mean you have adopted their philosophy (forgive me for using that term), their lifestyle, thoughts, etc.?
Is Lincoln a Christian because he used the name of the Lord frequently? Just because you are in the oven does not mean you are a biscuit, right?
First, we must acknowledge that only God knows the heart … we will be surprised when we get to Heaven … surprised about who is there and who is not …
One day my daughter asked if a particular sin will send you to Hell … I had to remind her what enables us to be given the gift of Heaven in the first place … John 3 tells us we must be “born again.” Galatians 2:20 explains it best when it says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
The Christian is not perfect … in fact some of the biggest sinners are the best Christians … the Apostle Paul himself said he was the “chief of sinners.” We might ask if we claim Christ are we engaged in “fighting the good fight.” We might ask are we moving forward in our faith … this growth is a process … by which we move forward by two steps and then maybe back one … we call this transformation … we are being transformed as we live our faith.
Was or is Lincoln a Christian? I don’t know but we will all know someday.
You think about that.
Ken Ansell is the pastor of Community Life Church in Waxahachie.